September 18, 2009
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a Naperville woman who wrote a series of anonymous letters that threatened and frightened Naperville School District 203 officials has been sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Rita Mueller, 50, was found guilty in February of disorderly conduct. In 2005, Mueller sent an anonymous letter to the principal of B.J. Ward Elementary School in Bolingbrook falsely alleging that a student at the school was being sexually abused by her father. The student was the daughter of a Naperville School District employee.
The one-count bill of indictment, handed up in August 2007, alleged that Mueller knew the principal was mandated by law to report the accusations to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which launched an investigation that eventually cleared the father of the false allegations.
Associate Judge Edward Burmila sentenced Mueller Friday morning and ordered her taken into custody immediately by Will County Sheriff’s Police.
Throughout 2005 and 2006, Mueller embarked on a bizarre and abusive anonymous letter-writing campaign that targeted a variety of Naperville School District officials. She admitted to police that she sent a package containing feces to one school official and what appeared to be a used condom to another.
She admitted to sending another anonymous letter to a local newspaper falsely alleging that a school administrator’s daughter was involved in a hit-and-run collision. The letter sparked a police investigation that eventually cleared the administrator’s daughter.
One Naperville school received anonymous letters falsely alleging that an athletic coach had promised to swim naked in a pool if the team performed well at a meet.
Another letter to a school social worker stated that the anonymous writer had a premonition that the social worker’s children were going to die in a fire and that the writer’s premonitions always come true. And she sent a sympathy card to another school official regarding the deaths of her two children when, in fact, the children were alive.
“Rita Mueller is going to prison because of her reckless disregard for the reputations of both adults and children,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “Her false allegations were sinister and depraved. These are the kinds of accusations that can ruin careers and lives.”
Before handing down the prison sentence, which was only six months less than the maximum penalty of three years, Judge Burmila said Mueller literally “terrorized” the targeted school officials.
Mueller’s campaign was sparked by her belief that school officials had been unfair in their treatment of her own daughter, who was a student in the district.
Assistant State’s Attorneys Mary Fillipitch and Colleen Griffin secured the guilty verdict in February. They also presented testimony regarding the letters and Mueller’s admissions during a sentencing hearing that began in August and concluded Friday.
Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
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