THURSDAY NEWS HIT - No video games, no cell phones, no social media, life in secure detention inside Oakland County's Children's Village is vastly different from what kids are used to.
And if students understood that, they might think twice before making school threats - which is the quickest way to end up there.
"This is the Sally Port for Children’s Village secured detention area," said Heather Calcaterra.
It is also the first stop for kids in Oakland County arrested for making a threat against a school.
"And they will be secured in handcuffs and sometimes foot shackles," she added.
Calcaterra, the director of Children's Village, gave FOX 2 unprecedented access to parts of the facility in an effort to buck the trend of kids making threats against schools in the wake of the Oxford High School shooting.
"This is a secure building, so before one door opens - another door closes behind us," she said.
Calcaterra walked us through the intake process. Kids detained in the Children's Village secured detention area, first have their mug shot taken, then fingerprinted, before hitting the showers and putting on their new uniform.
"All of their personal belongings are going to be put into storage and this is what they’re going to wear for the entire time they’re here," she said, showing the prisoner garb.
At least 23 kids have been detained at Children’s Village for allegedly making threats against schools.
Calcaterra showed us one of their secured detention sleeping rooms.
A mattress sits atop a concrete slab for bedding. A combined toilet and sink is less than an arm’s reach away.
FOX 2: "This looks like something out of county jail or a state correctional facility."
"Well, this is secured detention. Young people come here to await court action and it’s not pretty," she said. "But this is what happens when sometimes young people make threats or do things in the community that cause them to be court-ordered to the village."
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is working on 38 school threat cases. Oakland County, which is prosecuting Ethan Crumbley for the Oxford shootings, has issued charges against 17 kids for making threats against schools.
"We’ve already arrested a number of kids and there’s going to be more," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
Bouchard spoke about the cascade effect of threats and investigations.
"We’ve had almost 140 threats that we are in the process of, or have investigated," he said. "We have arrested numerous teenagers and we’ve had threats all the way down to the age of six. If you make a threat and you think it’s a joke, it’s not, it’s a crime."
"It’s escalated. We’re filling our Juvenile Justice Center right now," said Macomb County Prosecutor Pete Lucido. "We’ve had almost 30 or 30-plus cases, because every minute that ticks by, we get another case."
Lucido says when it comes to school threats, the gloves are off.
"There’s a zero-tolerance policy in this prosecutor's office," he said. "It is totally unacceptable and it will not - if it violates the law - there will be charges. End of story."
FOX 2 sat down with Calcaterra after our tour of Children’s Village.
She says some kids accused of making threats against schools, seemed to have got a wake-up call during their stay here, but in the words of Benjamin Franklin: 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'"
"I think that we need to talk to our kids," Calcaterra said. "We cannot assume that they understand the severity of their actions. We cannot assume that they understand the consequences of their actions, and I think, more importantly, we can’t assume that they’re okay.
"It’s tough to be an adolescent and so oftentimes, mental health issues, trauma-related issues, they go undetected. And so my biggest message would be to parents and guardians: Talk to your kids."
An important note - some kids at Children's Village are in shelter care, meaning they are staying there not for any crimes but because they were neglected. Those children are not living in the holding cells you saw in the story. They are housed separately from the kids in detention and in different conditions and circumstances.
Covid hospitalizations in Michigan fall for first time in 49 days
Health officials are gravely concerned about what the holiday season has in store for hospitals amid a COVID-19 surge in Michigan that's pushed the state's health care infrastructure to the brink. Henry Ford Health Systems says it is treating the highest number of Covid patients since the start of the pandemic - about 500.
Beds are full in many of the area hospitals while some have needed to postpone non-urgent medical surgery due to the influx of COVID-19 filling up ICU floors. According to the state, 72% of hospitalizations and 76% of deaths are among those who are unvaccinated.
Some good news did arrive on Wednesday when the state's COVID-19 patient number dipped for the first time in 49 days. But as omicron continues to expand across the state and people travel home for the holidays, trouble could be on the way.
"Our booster vaccines work against omicron. At this point, there is no need for a variant specific booster. And so the message remains clear, if you are unvaccinated get vaccinated and particularly in the arena of omicron, if you are vaccinated, get your booster shot," said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Lawsuit claims wrong body was in casket
Family of a deceased Pontiac man held Larry Tillman's funeral more than six months ago. But both his son and his siblings maintain that the body they buried in Pontiac was not their father. The allegation has kicked off an $85 million lawsuit against the funeral home company for mixing up bodies.
Spenser says his family tried "everything" to get the people at Lawrence E. Moon Funeral Home to stop the funeral, warning employee the body that had been delivered to them was not correct. "They don't listen - they're still not listening to this day."
With the help of an attorney, Spenser has accused the company of malicious fraud, gross negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. A separate investigation is underway by Michigan's licensing board. According to the lawsuit, Spenser had verified the body that the medical examiners had released was in fact his dad.
But the Lawrence E. Moon Funeral Home denies those allegations. A statement over the summer from the firm called the claims false and malicious. It's not clear, if Larry Tillman's body wasn't buried, where it might be. Spenser is petitioning the health department to have the remains exhumed and tested.
Man finds Apple Air tracker on his Dodge Charger
A man found an Apple Air tag inside the drawing cap under the trunk of his Dodge Charger hours only days after buying it and hours after parking at an Auburn Hills mall area. After shopping and visiting a friend, then as he was leaving, he got a notification.
"When I got out I had a notification on my phone and it said I was as being tracked by an unknown air tag," John Nelson said. When he tapped the notification, it gave him an option to ping the tag, which helped him find it.
It's a new form of auto theft and isn't the first example that auto theft task forces have seen in recent months. How it works is thieves will track whatever vehicle is being tracked, and then pick the most opportune time to steal. Often times, the intended target are Dodge products parked at mall lots.
"It could be an inside job, a friend of a friend looking to make a quick buck," he said. "I don't want them to know what I look like, for that reason." Nelson has a police report made with the Novi Police Department, which has the tracker.
Macomb County body builder sentenced 14 years for domestic abuse
The Macomb County body builder who was caught on camera viciously beating his wife was sentenced Wednesday on attempted murder and torture charges. Paul Bashi pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
"Despite all your issues, you are not the victim in this case. You're not," said Judge Joseph Toya. "Despite everything, we heard here today. It is the people, the state of Michigan that brought this case. You are not. I know you've been the focus, but you're not the victim in this case."
The end of the case dragged for months amid disagreements that the prosecutor should be replaced, and then the judge, who the defense argued was biased. Bashi's wife did take the stand and argued in favor of her husband, claiming he had changed. But details from home surveillance reveal a different story. The 37-year-old had punched kicked, and stabbed his wife more than one hundred times during the beating.
According to FOX 2 sources, Bashi's uncle - who had posted his bond - learned that his nephew was planning to leave town and possibly go to Mexico ahead of his sentencing currently set for Thursday. When his uncle confronted him, Bashi assaulted him, Utica police said. He's facing another 93 days in prison for the assault.
What else we're watching
- Multiple people were involved in a single car crash near Davison and Mound early Thursday morning. The status of the victims is unclear at the moment.
- A sinkhole has opened up after a water main broke on Detroit's east side. Water could be seen on Jefferson Avenue early Thursday morning. A car apparently also got stuck in the hole, but was able to escape. Drivers will need to avoid Jefferson if they're heading into Detroit.
- Some 7,000 people had lost power by 8 a.m., according to DTE's outage numbers. The wind overnight has continued blowing strong into the morning. Consumers Energy customers had a rough go of it on the state's west coast.
- The Oakland County Sheriff has put out a call for help from the public in locating two fugitive suspects charged with separate murder cases in Pontiac. Learn more here.
- The Pontiac Regional Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Mindfulness Institute of Michigan to offer mental health sessions via Zoom following the shooting at Oxford High School. Roop Raj will have more at 6 p.m.
Live on FOX 2
It's going to be a warm and windy Thursday as temperatures look to eclipse 60 degrees during an unseasonal December day. High winds will stick around for much of the morning and afternoon, creating a chance for sporadic power outages.
Xenobots, world’s first living robots, can reproduce, scientists say
Xenobots, also known as the world’s first living robots, have the capability to reproduce, according to a recent study from the University of Vermont, Tufts University and Harvard University.
Researchers published their study earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Xenobots are made up of a collection of frog egg cells that can function as one tiny unit. They are engineered inside of a petri dish and can be programmed to move.
Researchers recently found out that when they sprinkled more cells inside a petri dish, the existing xenobots, acting as bulldozers, push the cells together to create a separate xenobot.
"They can build other xenobots," lead researcher Sam Kriegman told FOX Television Stations Wednesday.