Waseca teen who threatened to bomb school gets probation, treatment

John LaDue
In September, John LaDue pleaded guilty to one felony count of possessing explosives. Here, Waseca County Sheriff's deputies led LaDue back to the county jail after his plea hearing.
Pat Christman | The Free Press via AP file

Updated 3:56 p.m. | Posted 12:43 p.m.

The teenager accused of planning a school massacre in Waseca was sentenced Monday to up to 10 years probation and a stay at a secure autism spectrum treatment facility in Georgia.

John LaDue was arrested in April last year at a storage locker after neighbors reported suspicious activity to police. A search of the storage locker and the then-17-year-old's house turned up explosives, a gun, bomb-making supplies and a journal that outlined his alleged plans to kill his family and classmates.

In September, LaDue pleaded guilty to one felony count of possessing explosives.

The plea agreement required John LaDue, now 18, to live in a secured facility and receive treatment for autism spectrum disorder. The deal also dismissed five remaining felony counts of possessing incendiary devices.

After treatment in Georgia, LaDue will transfer to a halfway home and eventually back to the Waseca community with intensive supervision for the remainder of his probation, defense attorney Dawn Johnson said, adding that she hopes the community will embrace him when he returns "so he doesn't have the feeling of isolation."

Prosecutors declined to comment.

LaDue will remain in the Waseca County Jail until a bed becomes available at Deveruex, the Georgia facility, an estimated three to four weeks from now. The facility will determine when to release him.

Deveruex specializes in treating not only young adults with autism but also those who have a fixation on violence. A psychologist who examined LaDue in June testified that he has mild to moderate autism spectrum disorder and because of that, his risk of future violence continues to be elevated.

Judge Joseph Chase also ordered LaDue not to drink alcohol or take any recreational drugs and not to enter Waseca County School grounds or buildings.

Judge Chase took a few minutes to reflect on the case, and described it as a tragedy that was "miraculously averted" in Waseca. The judge said social contact with the community will reduce LaDue's risk of trying to commit harmful acts in the future. "If he's allowed to be an under-the-radar loner, the risk increases," Judge Chase said.

LaDue will also be allowed limited Internet access to the degree that his probation officer allows.

Both of LaDue's parents were in the courtroom Monday sitting in the front row. His dad, David LaDue, stepped out of the courtroom shaking his head just before the judge finished delivering the sentence. David LaDue has commented to reporters in the past but didn't today, saying he has lots of things to say to the community, but now's not a good time.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.