Charges against a Colleyville mother accused of helping middle school students vandalize a neighbor’s home in 2012 were dismissed Thursday.
The criminal mischief charge against 43-year-old Tara Mauney was dismissed at the request of the neighbor, according to officials with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.
Under an agreement, Mauney paid $1,900 for damages and wrote the neighbor an apology letter.
“It was never her goal to make her neighbor a convicted felon for this immature incident,” said Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Mark Thielman in a news release. “The victim has made clear to us her desire to spare all of the children from the rigors of testifying.”
Colleyville police said that Mauney led eight middle school students through a series of juvenile pranks at Colleyville homes, including writing graffiti on outside walls and placing raw chicken in a mailbox. Damages to one home were estimated at almost $6,000, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram.
If she had been convicted, she would have faced a maximum of two years in a state jail and a $10,000 fine.
Mauney, who has been free on $7,500 bail since her arrest in July 2012, and her attorney could not be reached Thursday.
Brian Willett of Bedford, one of Mauney’s attorneys, told the Star-Telegram in 2012 that Mauney wasn’t even with the students.
“She was never at that place,” he said. “They are saying that she did the writing, but she wasn’t there.”
Pointing the blame elsewhere
On her Facebook page Thursday, Mauney posted a copy of the apology letter to her neighbor.
In the letter, Mauney expresses regret over the defacement to her neighbor’s entry column but puts the blame on a girl who had been among visitors to her house that night.
No juveniles were charged in the case, Colleyville police said Thursday.
“Know that we exercised in this House the same discipline and rules on this evening as we have over the last half-dozen years with dozens of the children - including your own - on as many events,” Mauney wrote. “I am sorry that in spite of every action taken, we were not able to interdict this fragile child’s acts.”
Mauney pointed out that she and two other adults “ruled” the children that night on never causing damage to private property and sent them to bed for the remainder of the evening.
“It is my understanding that the (girl’s) family will not be reimbursing you for damages. Let us pay that for you with the check enclosed,” Mauney wrote. “We trust, hope, and fully expect that these children will grow stronger, not weaker from their decisions and that our future as neighbors and friends will once again hold pleasant memories.”
Mauney also posted on her Facebook page a “statement” regarding the charge’s dismissal, thanking the “hundreds of parents” who supported “justice in this case.”
“Giants do fall: You have demonstrated that simple truth supersedes even the most adroit deceit,” the statement reads.
She also wrote that the apology and restitution offered Thursday were “identical to those offered by us — at the front door of the victim within hours and on two subsequent occasions — but refused.”
“They do not express a mantle of blame or shame,” she wrote. “To the contrary: We stepped in and made the Victim’s damages whole when the child-perpetrator’s family refused.”
She urged other adults who welcome minor children into their home to use her experience as a warning.
“The secret agenda and shrewd, exploitative capabilities of certain littered personalities can draw you also into the center of an unrestrained malevolent storm beyond your imagining or control,” she wrote.
Graffiiti and toilet paper
The affidavit gave this account of the episode:
Homeowner Jodie Rishel called Colleyville police on July 25, 2012, and said her daughter and classmates from Colleyville Middle School who were staying overnight were swimming about 2 a.m. in a backyard pool when they saw a male looking over a fence.
The girls got out of the pool, went to the front of the house on Alexandra Drive in Colleyville and were chasing the male when they saw a group of people running from the front yard.
The girls chased the group to a nearby home and watched as all of them except one, Mauney, went into a nearby house.
Mauney stopped in front of the house and asked, “Could I help you?”
One of the girls responded, “You can clean up the mess you just made.”
Colleyville police were called. On arrival, an officer observed a large amount of toilet paper wrapped in the trees and shrubs at a house on Alexandra Drive.
According to the affidavit, the officer saw the two chicken halves in the mailbox and a toilet with the words “suck it” written on it placed in a driveway.
Someone used a black marker to write graffiti, including “whore house,” “suck it,” and “sluts” on outside walls. Peanut butter was smeared on the pillars of the driveway, which was covered.
Video from Walmart
Tampons and sanitary napkins covered in what appeared to be ketchup were left in the driveway and front yard, and some of the red-smeared tampons were also stuck to the windows at the front of the house.
A witness told authorities that she saw Mauney and a group of juveniles shopping at the Bedford Walmart on the night of July 24, 2012. Security video from the store showed that Mauney and juveniles purchased three 36-roll packages of toilet paper from the Walmart.
Colleyville police said they also believe Mauney and the juveniles toilet-papered a second home the night of July 24, 2012, and early morning of July 25, 2012.
Two male juveniles confessed to their involvement in the acts of criminal mischief, according to the affidavit.