Local News

High School Kidnapper Draws 5 Years' Probation

Posted June 13, 2007
Updated June 29, 2007

— An East Chapel Hill High School student pleaded guilty Wednesday to holding a teacher and another student hostage last year and was sentenced to five years' probation with several conditions.

Most prominent among the conditions that Superior Court Judge Kenneth Titus imposed on William Barrett Foster, 18, is wearing a global-positioning system device that keeps authorities updated on where he is 24 hours a day.

Foster entered the plea to two counts each of second-degree kidnapping and assault by pointing a gun and one count of discharging a gun on school property. He had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges by reason of insanity.

Wednesday, his attorneys painted him as a mentally ill young man, diagnosed with schizophrenia, who is on medication, in treatment and will comply with all of the court orders.

Foster carried a shotgun, an air pistol and a hunting knife into East Chapel Hill High on April 24, 2006, and held civics teacher Lisa Kukla and sophomore Chelsea Slegal hostage in a classroom after school.

After more than an hour, school officials said, Kukla was able to talk Foster out of shooting her and Slegal. Barrett then fired a shot through a window and fled, police said.

After he went home, he told his mother what happened, and she drove him to University of North Carolina Hospitals for psychiatric observation, police said.

Foster has been wearing a GPS ankle bracelet since February as a condition of being released on bond. He previously spent several months undergoing a psychiatric examination at Dorothea Dix Hospital.

The teen lives in Raleigh and is barred from going to Durham or Orange counties while on probation. He also isn't permitted to have any firearms.

Authorities said they don't know why Foster took Kukla and Slegal hostage and that it appeared to be a random act.

Kukla and Slegal described their ordeal in detail during a hearing before Titus.

"I'm happy that it's it over. There is a sense of relief that this part is over," Kukla said.

Kukla said she had hoped Foster would see some jail time.

"You can come into a school, kidnap two people, terrorize them and not receive any real consequences for that?" Kukla said.

Although Slegal told the court she would also like jail time for Foster, she accepted the outcome.

"It was a little disappointing, but livable. It's life. I'm OK with it," Slegal said.

Slegal's mother, Sue Evans, said incidents like the Virigina Tech shooting bring up her family's horror again and again.


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  • STeeleHawk Jun 14, 2007

    And another thought. Who monitors those GPS anklets? I'm sure it's a staff member of Probation and Parole. Now I'm not 100% sure, but since the prison system is overflowing, P & P is probably overworked as well. Now, since they can know where he is at any time, that would mean someone would have to be looking for him. So, if he decides to get armed (which isn't that hard really), and drive to a Wake County school and do the same thing, how long would he have before whomever is monitoring him either notices, or realizes he's somewhere he should not be? How long did it take him the last time? Not long I'd bet.

  • STeeleHawk Jun 14, 2007

    I realize that since it's so long since this story posted, hardly anyone will read this, but I feel I've got to sound off.

    Not too long ago a student in Wake county (Holly Springs I think) was suspended for a year from school for having a firearm in the trunk of the car he was driving. He had borrowed the car and didn't even know the gun was there, but that didn't matter, the punishment was metted out.

    At first I was appalled at that discision as too harsh, but upon reflection, the rules were violated, so the punishment was justified. Now here we are with an astronomically more severe breach of the rules ... and practically no punishment.

    As a father of high school aged students, and as the husband of a teacher, I actually pause to think about my family's safety. And since I work in the public safety field, I see all the bad that can be seen.

    THIS JUDEGMENT IS A TRAVESTY. The young man may need mental health care, but it should be in a more restrictive environment.

  • lollly52 Jun 14, 2007

    I agree with the previous posts that said the scenario went like this. He goes home and tells mommy he has done a bad thing at a school. Mommy calls daddy who calls high powered lawyer, who advises that they take sonny for psych documentation immediately. Judge sees that mommy and daddy PROMISE that sonny will take his meds - all is forgiven.
    The Judge is WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

  • NCGal Jun 14, 2007

    Superior Court Judge Kenneth Titus needs to be "debenched" if there's such a word.

    This is completely unacceptable. :X

  • kal Jun 14, 2007

    I'm sorry - why is it we can't find people willing to teach our children?

  • none123 Jun 14, 2007

    This is a prime example of the judicial system utterly failing. This is an outrage and a slap in the face to the victims of this crime. Why on earth would this thug only get probation for these VIOLENT crimes. Does the judge really think a GPS is going to prevent this pschyco from harming these people again? It is cases like this that make people lose more and more faith in our judicial system. It was originally created for the victims. Now it is a playground for criminals.

  • Lightfoot3 Jun 14, 2007

    Okay, delete THIS wral!...

    People are getting jail time for telling a lie (Lewis Libby, etc.). This guy brings weapons to school, kidnaps people, holds people hostage under threat of death, fires a weapon at school, etc., but he only gets probation? This is a prime example of what is wrong with our justice system!

  • likemenow Jun 14, 2007

    Cfrazy...How many many felonies and misdemeanors on school grounds does it take to put somebody in jail these days? If he had killed those 2 hostages, would he at least receive home study? Welcome to Orange County.

  • Joshua Jun 14, 2007

    Where in HELL is justice in our society!?

  • JDawn1984 Jun 14, 2007

    He really should have gotten some jail time.