Cincinnati, Ohio — Ever since the image of the “evil clown” was propagated in the 1980s, particularly by Stephen King’s novel and film It, many people have suffered from “coulrophobia”, a fear of clowns.
In Ohio this phobia is justified after a woman was attacked in Reading, Hamilton County, in the Greater Cincinnati area. The crime took place on September 30, and the perpetrator was dressed as a clown.
The victim reported to the police that she was on her porch early Friday morning when someone in a clown costume appeared and grabbed her by the throat.
The assailant said to her,
“I should just kill you now.”
“Some students and teachers would wish they were never born at the junior and senior high school today,” continued the attacker, who was male and was wearing striped clothing, a white clown mask, and a red clown wig.
No arrest was made in the attack, and no suspects are being held.
However, the Reading Community City School District canceled classes for the day. A Facebook post by the District noted that administrators were particularly anxious for students who walk to school in the early morning hours.
The post pointed out that extra security would be available at the homecoming parade and football game planned for that evening.
That same Friday, a student from Milford High School in Miami Township, north of Cincinnati, made clown threats on social media. The student was arrested and removed from the school. Principal Josh Kauffman commented as follows:
“The social media message was a copycat of the clown threats that have been becoming more frequent in our area and around the country. At no time were students and staff in any danger.”
Previously in Hamilton County, another clown-threat incident had taken place in Colerain Township with a warning about possible harm to Colerain High School students. The juvenile suspected of that threat was arrested on September 29.
In yet another Hamilton County town, Montgomery, five more students were charged with clown-threat crimes. The five were accused of inciting panic for suggesting on Twitter that a “Clown Clan” or gang of clowns would descend on local schools.
And the Greater Cincinnati area isn’t the only part of Ohio being targeted. Outside Dayton in the town of Fairborn, yet another juvenile was arrested. Using a clown character as an avatar, he threatened death on social media to students at Fairborn High School. The student, who is 15, was arrested on the felony charge of making terrorist threats.
Still another clown-threat hoax resulted in a lock down at a Dayton middle school. And on the other side of the state in the middle of Ohio’s Amish Country, a Sugarcreek girl’s social media claim about a clown brandishing a knife was found to be untrue.
The Ohio attack and threats are part of a nationwide trend of scary incidents and hoaxes involving clowns. Since August, clowns have been the subjects of reports and threats in multiple states, including South Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and Georgia. But the Reading, Ohio, woman is, thus far, the only known victim of an actual attack.
Nevertheless, the clown threats are no laughing matter.