Platte City became one of the locations caught up in an undesirable national trend last week.
According to the Platte City Police Department, two officers responded to a call of suspicious activity Friday, Sept. 30 on Bello Mondo Drive. An alleged victim there reported the presence of a person dressed like a clown outside her apartment, but no evidence of a person or persons matching the description could be found in the area.
The case could be related to previously received threatening messages, and although police have no reason to believe a credible threat exists in Platte City, officials want citizens to remain alert while not falling victim to increasing paranoia spreading the country regarding allegedly menacing clowns.
“At this point, short of having that tangible lead of the electronic data, where the messages or texts were sent from,” Platte City police Lt. Al DeValkenaere said, “we don’t have a clear lead to follow. We’ve got the report and a description, but other than that, we don’t have any leads to go on.”
According to a police report, a person called 911 just before 8 p.m. to report the clown.
The reporting party — an 18-year-old female from Northmoor, Mo. — said she asked for police after the alleged victim told her about what happened. About two to three weeks ago, the 17-year-old girl from Platte City allegedly received threatening messages via Facebook Messenger from an unknown person claiming to be a clown.
According to the alleged victim, one of the messages asked if “she wanted to play,” and in another, the unknown person threatened to kill her.
On the night of the call to 911, the alleged victim said she was alone in her apartment at 907 Bello Mondo Drive when her dog started growling. She heard a person knock on the door and say, “Missionary Baptist Church.” According to the report, she didn’t open the door because the voice sounded weird.
The door knob then wiggled, according to the victim’s statement. She then looked outside and claimed to see a white man about 6 feet tall wearing a dark red shirt with ripped jeans. The alleged suspect also had his face painted white with black around his eyes and a green and red wig.
According to the alleged victim, the man ran across the street when she screamed. The two officers did not find any person dressed as a clown in a search of the surrounding area.
Police asked the alleged victim to keep the messages if she had them in case they needed to be viewed later. Officials said they also planned to work with Facebook to retrieve the messages, if necessary.
A Kansas City TV station interviewed two juvenile females claiming to be witnesses on camera Sunday night.
However, no new evidence has been found to confirm the sighting. DeValkenaere said Platte City police would increase patrols in the area, and all proper protocol was followed in taking the threat seriously while responding to the call.
Sightings of creepy clowns have been a part of social media memes for years. This often includes a photo showing a clown in an out-of-the-ordinary location asking people how they would respond if they came across the scene.
In recent months, the sightings became more public with reports of suspicious clowns popping up first in South Carolina and North Carolina before spreading to much of the country. In the past few weeks, St. Joseph, Blue Springs, Columbia and Platte City have been sites in Missouri of alleged clown activity, although no physical evidence of people dressed as clowns has been found in any of the cases.
A spokesperson with the Platte County Sheriff’s Office said that department has not responded to any calls about clowns to this point. Parkville Police also said they have not had any reports.
With the Halloween holiday approaching, the issue of dealing with these reports becomes more complicated. Platte City police warn citizens against trying to pull pranks or hoaxes involving clowns, and filing a false police report about a clown sighting could lead to criminal charges.
“We are warning teens and young adults not to get involved in this fad of dressing up as clowns to cause fear,” Platte City police chief Carl Mitchell said. “Eventually, someone is going to perceive their actions as a threat and take justice in their own hands.”