Heather Carpenter, a former substitute teacher in Sarasota, Florida, is accused of wrecking a child’s birthday party by smearing fecal matter on a picnic table. Authorities allege that Carpenter was motivated by a grudge against a principal who was hosting the party for her child.
Both the principal, Allison Foster, and the 42-year-old Ohio-born, minivan-driving Carpenter worked at Phillippi Shores Elementary School. You can read court documents from the bizarre case later in this article. She’s accused of wearing a mask and gloves while committing the vandalism.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Witness Says He Saw a Woman With Gloves & Mask on in the Park
Witness Michael Hutchinson told WFLA-TV that, on December 1, 2018, he “noticed a woman with a mask and gloves on. He thought she was with park maintenance.”
“Once I got over here, I could smell it instantly and I knew she was vandalizing it,” said Hutchinson to the television station.
“You could see fecal matter on the ground, and just the smell of urine, it was really, you could really smell it,” said Hutchinson.
The Sheriff’s Department confirms it received a report from an eyewitness. The Sarasota County probable cause affidavit alleges that, on December 1, 2018, at 6:30 a.m., a then unknown suspect now believed to be Carpenter went to Urfer Park, a Sarasota County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources property, at 4000 Honore Ave., in Sarasota.
“The suspect was observed by a witness in the park placing human waste and fecal matter on the proud wooden tables and grills under the pavilion at Urfer Park. The witness reported this to representatives of the Sarasota County government who in turn reported this to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office,” the affidavit reads.
2. Carpenter Was in a Dispute With the Principal the Week Before the Incident
Carpenter by on Scribd
Authorities determined that a girl’s birthday party was scheduled to take place that morning but it and another “were disrupted by the placement of human waste and fecal matter on the tables,” the affidavit says.
The witness described the suspect as a white female with light brown hair, she was taller than average, and was seen driving a gray minivan. The witness stated the suspect was wearing blue gloves and a blue mask during the incident.
Allison Foster, the principal of Phillippi Shores Elementary and the organizer of the birthday party, said she invited all the children in her child’s class, including the child of a woman she was having a dispute with during the week preceding the incident, according to the affidavit.
She identified the woman she was in a dispute with as Heather Carpenter, a substitute teacher at Phillippi Shores Elementary. “Foster was assisting Carpenter with a professional complainant and Carpenter was not pleased with how the situation was handled,” said the affidavit. “Carpenter fit the description provided by the witness and drives a gray 2012 Mazda Minivan.”
According to The Herald Tribune, Carpenter had only worked as a substitute teacher at the school since October 17 and “she will not be able to work as a substitute or volunteer while there is an active law enforcement investigation.”
3. Sarasota County Had to Pay More Than $2,000 to Clean Up the Mess
Carpenter 3 by on Scribd
A representative with Sarasota County told authorities the “human waste and fecal matter had to be cleaned from the pavilion and the seven tables, due to being porous, had to be replaced at a cost of $1400.”
That wasn’t all. There were grills affected too. “The two grills cost a total of $650 and had to be replaced so food would not be cooked over fecal matter,” the affidavit says.
“The cleaning costs Sarasota County $150 in labor and overtime pay to the staff. The pavilion was rented for an event and Sarasota County had to reimburse and offer a free event slot for a cost of $110. This incident cost Sarasota County $2310 up to this point.”
Cash bond for Carpenter was set at $2,500, court records show. She is pleading not guilty, court records show.
4. Carpenter Listed Her Assets as Zero & Allison Foster Previously Sought an Injunction Against Carpenter
Carpenter applied for appointment of a public defender and “criminal indigent status.” She indicated that she has two dependents and a take-home pay of nothing. She listed no assets and debt totaling $250,000. However, the address given for her in court records is a single-family home valued at $345,000.
There is an earlier case in the system in which Allison Foster, the principal, had filed a petition against Carpenter on December 10, 2018, but the court records say it was denied. The court documents have been sealed by the court. It was listed as a “petition for an injunction” and a domestic violence relationship form was filled out. There was also a notice of courtroom etiquette given. There is a similar case in the system by a man named Paul Foster.
The notation in the court system for charge or case type alleges “repeat violence.”
5. An Affidavit Accuses Carpenter of Admitting to the Crime
When an officer went to Carpenter’s residence, she invited the officer in and “admitted she intentionally placed human waste and fecal matter on the tables at Urfer Park with theintent of disrupting the birthday party planned by Foster,” the affidavit alleges.
“Carpenter stated she did this because she was displeased with how Foster handled the professional complaint,” it alleges.
She was accused of criminal mischief over $1,000.