John Pinkham is a Florida man charged with sending threats to the family of Tyler Trent, a 20-year-old Purdue University student who died of cancer last week, WOFL reports.
Pinkham, a 39-year-old resident of Deltona, was arrested Monday after police said he posted threats to Trent’s Facebook page after his death. Police said Pinkham threatened violence at Trent’s memorial.
Among other things, Pinkham wrote, “Can’t wait till I can choke the life out of you,” “funerals coming and I will appear like the reaper,” and “I will kill his mother..just watch I will be talked about forever..this is no idol threat,” police say.
Pinkham has denied sending the threats but police have rejected his denials.
Pinkham, who has spent much of his adult life in prison, faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Purdue Student Tyler Trent Passed Away From Cancer Last Week
Tyler Trent, 20, passed away on January 1 after a battle with a rare bone cancer that he was diagnosed with at age 15, IndyStar reported.
Trent, a superfan of the Purdue Boilermakers football team, enrolled at Purdue in 2017 while he was undergoing chemotherapy. He was honored by his beloved team, becoming the adopted captain of the football team. He was later given the Disney Wide World of Sports Spirit Award and got to co-host ESPN’s SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt.
Trent earned an associate degree in computer information technology at the school before his death.
“He wanted people to see more than Tyler Trent, more than a cancer fighter,” his longtime friend Annie Osborne said at his memorial Tuesday. “He wanted people to see God.”
2. Police Say John Pinkham Threatened Violence at Trent’s Memorial
Police say Pinkham posted violent threats on Trent’s Facebook page after Trent passed away last week.
According to police, Pinkham threatened to kill Trent’s mother at his memorial service.
“Can’t wait till I can choke the life out of you,” Pinkham wrote, in part, according to police. “Funerals coming and I will appear like the reaper,” he wrote, as well as, “I will kill his mother..just watch I will be talked about forever..this is no idol threat.”
Pinkham was arrested at his Deltona home Monday and is being held on $10,000 bond. He was charged with making written threats to kill or do bodily injury, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence, IndyStar reported.
3. Pinkham Denies Sending Threats
Pinkham denied making the threats in an interview with WOFL and said his own mother died of cancer.
“From me to them, God bless them. I’m sorry that this whole situation happened,” Pinkham said. “But I assure them this didn’t come from me. This is a case of trolling. I know you know what trolling is, when people get on the internet and say and do stupid stuff.”
Pinkham’s fiancee, Alma Wilson, claimed to WOFL that someone used her lost phone to post the threats using his Facebook account.
“I lost my Motorola phone, which had both our accounts on it. Anyone could have picked up the phone and connect with it,” Wilson said.
4. Police Say Pinkham is Lying
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood completely rejected Pinkham and his fiancee’s claims.
“We were able to track the device to his home, and when detectives encountered him, the device that sent those threats and put this family in panic mode was in his pocket,” Chitwood told WOFL. “So this guy deserves to rot in jail, and he is my scumbag of a life time. I hope this poor family can rest and do what they need to do to honor their son.”
Chitwood added that Wilson was clearly lying as well.
“Sadly, she’s just as big of a liar and just a culpable as he is. One big thing about technology, you trace where it came from,” he said.
Chitwood told the station he felt for the Trent family and made a donation in Tyler’s memory.
5. Pinkham Has an Extensive Criminal History
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Pinkham has a criminal history dating back to 1998, when he was arrested for robbery. He was later convicted in 2000 and served two years in prison, IndyStar reported.
In 2003, he was sentenced again to 10 years in prison for burglary.
In 2012, he was sentenced to five years in prison for battery.