Threats are a part of life but Thursday’s email was different

Thursday, businesses, schools and news media across 21 states received an email threat concerning a bomb being placed in or near their location. The text of the threat is included in a segment in this week’s On Second Thought, in a story by the Lexington Herald-Leader and the threat text courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The Pikeville Appalachian News Express is one of the media outlets receiving the threat, so far the only Kentucky newspaper we’re aware that got the email. 

Publisher Jeff Vanderbeck’s column talks about the types of threats his tri-weekly receives, perhaps not uncommon to other newspapers throughout the state, and then talks about the bomb threat email.



By Jeff Vanderbeck, Publisher, Appalachian News Express

We get threats all the time, mostly idle and from local people who are hacked off about something that we put in the paper about them or a family member. A local disgraced lawyer and his band of idiots made threatening calls at one time, he’s in jail now so I guess he got what he deserved.

Most of the local threats are because we listed someone in the blotter and another family member wants to come here and kick my ass. I had a guy call one time who was ready to kill me because his kid was in the paper and that was “gonna put that child’s mamaw in her grave.”

I asked if in fact that junior got caught dealing meth, to which he replied, “Yes.” I asked if junior was on meth and tried to evade the police, to which he replied, “Yes.” I asked if junior was intoxicated while operating his vehicle, again, “Yes.” He didn’t see why we had to put him in the paper — junior’s “mamaw doesn’t know about the drugs.”

I told this guy he can come here and try to beat me to a pulp all he wants, but if he beat the snot out of his kid years ago maybe he wouldn’t have to worry about mamaw going to an early grave. After about 30 minutes he agreed that the posting of junior may get the boy a wakeup call and I offered to help any way I could. He called me about six months later to tell me junior was doing better. That was an idle threat.

Some other idle threats include public or appointed officials who get hacked off and want to take their aggression out on us. I was accosted in the Food City by one over a story that was very factual, but people don’t like the facts so he wanted to fight. I was also threatened at El Azul years ago while I was having lunch with one of my then-young children. Bothe threats were idle and done by local people who were hacked off.

Dec. 13, I received an email of a bomb in our building. Apparently, there were business and media outlets in 21 states that received the same email. But we were the only media outlet in Kentucky, that I know of that received that email.

The email said that there was an explosive device in the building and that I needed to send “$20’000” in Bitcoin to a specific address or the bomb would go off and that people would get hurt. I needed to have that transaction completed by the end of the day and that the crook would be checking his account every 35 minutes. Who does that? Every hour or half hour I understand, but every 35 minutes?

What was interesting about the email was the horrible wording and type of language used, as well as the actual ransom amount printed above. I know that criminals are usually not the sharpest tool in the shed, but this was really bad. And since it wasn’t from one of the locals, I had to run it up the flag pole — “See something, say something.”

I alerted the Pikeville Police, they alerted the authorities and jumped into standard protocol. Officers swept the building and looked diligently for anything suspicious to assure that there was no device on the premises. And by virtue of the fact that I was in my office Friday morning writing this column, the police were correct.

I just hope someone was not foolish to give into the demands of the would-be bomber.

Thanks for reading the News-Express

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