Orange County News

Nails intentionally set on school playground

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nails were found buried in the sand at a playground next to Glen Yermo Elementary School in Mission Viejo.

This is another episode of playground sabotage in an area that has a history of it. Orange County Sheriff's detectives recovered more than a dozen roofing nails that they say were deliberately placed right under the end of a slide on a school playground.

Some of the children at Glen Yermo Elementary School were playing on the playground slide Wednesday morning just after 10 when one noticed something sharp sticking up out of the sand.

"A very alert student did observe a number of these roofing nails in the sand just below the landing area of the slide," said Orange County Sheriff's Spokesman Jim Amormino. "So there is no question that these nails were intentionally placed."

Investigators recovered 15 nails and are looking for more. They're using metal detectors, rakes and strainers, going over the entire play area, which has been cordoned off.

Parents are furious, wondering who would do this..

"The last time was razor blades," said John Smentkowski, grandfather of one student. "And by the way, I put a cabinet together yesterday in my house and one of the old nails vibrated out, that was two days ago, yesterday I stepped on it. I'm glad I stepped on it because I have these heavy pile rugs, but nails will injure you. I mean, they're not going to kill you, but why harm these children? They're innocent."

Suspicion immediately turned to Lori Fischer, the Mission Viejo woman convicted in 2003 of planting nails and razor blades at nine separate Orange County parks and playgrounds.

"A number of years ago, a woman, Lori Fischer, was convicted of a very similar crime," said Amormino. "She was sentenced to five years in prison. She is currently out of prison, but again, we are very early in our investigation, so I would hate to be accusatory toward anyone or to see where the investigation takes us."

Amormino said detectives have no doubt that the nails found Wednesday were meant to harm children. There were serrated shafts with large washer bases to keep them upright in the sand.

"If some of the kids go down head first, I mean, it could go in their eyes, it could go anywhere," said Amormino.

Wednesday afternoon, sheriff's investigators widened their search to other playgrounds in the area, but they didn't find anything.

If you have information related to this case, you're asked to call the Orange County Sheriff's Dept. tip line at (866) TIP-OCSD.

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