Moore County - Timeline of Terror - Part 3
Updated: Jul 8
Writer’s note: This is the third part of a series that will attempt to both lay out a detailed timeline of how Moore County became so divided and angry, and tell the stories of the people who live and work in Moore County who have been negatively impacted by the right wing takeover of the Moore County Republican Party leadership and our elected offices. The timeline starts in 2014 and will continue into the aftermath of the terrorist attack on two of our county’s electrical substations.Part 3 covers the year 2021.
What is happening in Moore County closely resembles what is happening in small, rural communities all over the country. There is a clear national strategy by far right wing and alt-right Republicans to take over all elected leadership. This plan is a clear coordinated attack that almost always begins at the local level with Board of Education races. However, this timeline will focus on Moore County and will only mention national events when they directly affect the timeline.
Part one of this series covers 2014-2018. Every event mentioned in this timeline has a direct impact on the division and harassment that comes down the road. Part one can be found at the following link:
Part two which covers 2019-2020 is available here:
Part 3 - More Division, More Threats, More Protests & More Psyops
January, 2021 - Moore County Republican Party leaders refuse to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election and also begin claiming (with no basis) that Governor Roy Cooper somehow “cheated” and stole the governorship from Republican Dan Forrest. Emily Grace Rainey and Moore Republican Women’s Club president Pauline Bruno organize transportation for approximately 200 Moore County Republicans to attend Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal" rally scheduled for January 6 in Washington, DC. Moore County Board of Education member David Hensley and Emily Grace Rainey’s Moore Families for Quality Education group begin attacking PSA: Public School Advocates on the radio and on social media, focusing their attacks on not just Co-founders Alexa Roberts and Cheryl Christy, but on other individual members.
January 3, 2021 - Moore County Board of Education Chair Libby Carter announces in an email to her fellow BoEd members that meetings will move to all virtual due to the pandemic. The Board makes this decision in spite of the fact that they have opened all MCS schools to in-person attendance without appropriate social distancing opportunities. One of the primary reasons given for the move back to virtual meetings is the refusal of attendees to respect and adhere to mask policies during the in person meetings. Board of Education member David Hensley posts his response to the Chair’s decision on his official social media page.
January 4, 2021 - David Hensley accuses Board of Education Chair Libby Carter of violating MCS policy and NC laws at a BoEd meeting. He repeats the allegation the next day on his social media page. The district’s attorney later confirms that the Chair’s actions violated neither policy nor law. Hensley never apologizes and never corrects the record.
January 5, 2021 - David Hensley and Moore County Commissioner Louis Gregory conspire to have an item concerning Moore County Schools funding removed from the Board of Commissioners consent agenda. Their efforts fail. Steve Woodward (Moore County GOP communications guru) posts his intent to join Emily Grace Rainey at the “Stop the Steal” rally on his personal Facebook page. David Hensley (newly elected to the Moore County Board of Education) replies to Woodward’s post by encouraging to “kick ass” and “bring back severed ears.”
January 6, 2021 - Supporters of President Trump storm the United States Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden as President. The insurrection eventually results in five deaths. Although Steve Woodward, Emily Grace Rainey, and Pauline Bruno are all present at the insurrection, there is no indication anyone from Moore County entered the Capitol Building. Moore Voices publishes a commentary written by Alexa Roberts outlining the backroom deal made by BoEd member Hensley and BoC member Gregory and the resulting kerfuffle at the Board of Commissioners meeting.
January 9, 2021 - Moore County Republican leaders hold a “Muster in the Sandhills.” JD Zumwalt advertises it on his page as a “peaceful” event that “all are welcome to attend,” but Emily Grace Rainey advertises it as “a live free or die” event and warns that “tyrants are not welcome.” The promotional material for the event describe Covid as a “leftist hoax.” Many Moore County elected officials attend the “muster” including state representative Jamie Boles and state senator Tom McInnis. Sheriff Ronnie Fields is the keynote speaker. David Hensley also speaks and tells the crowd that they need to “make Moore County an uncomfortable place for leftists to live.” All of the participants are maskless and no effort is made to social distance. A screenshot of David Hensley calling for people to boycott local businesses owned or operated by “leftists” begins circulating on social media.
January 10, 2021 - A screenshot of Moore County Board of Education member David Hensley making fun of the LBGTQ+ community for decorating a Christmas tree for the previous year’s Sandhills Festival of Trees begins circulating on social media.
January 11, 2021 - In response to multiple Facebook posts by David Hensley, MCS Superintendent takes the unprecedented step of reading a statement into the record at a MoCo BoEd meeting outlining the district’s $100,000 settlement to a minor who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a MCS resource officer. Hensley had accused previous Board members of covering up the suit and acting unethically.
January 12, 2021 - State wide media outlets pick up the story of David Hensley calling for “severed ears” to be brought back from the Capitol insurrection. Hensley defends his statements about the insurrection by saying he made “flippant remarks” as a private citizen and accuses local “leftists' ' of “doxing” him by contacting state wide press.
January 13, 2021 - As more stories appear in national media regarding Hensley’s “severed ears” comments, local citizens begin writing emails to the Board of Education and posting to the MCS Facebook page calling for the BoEd to censure Hensley for his public comments (including falsely accusing fellow Board members and the MCS Superintendent of breaking the law) . Instead, the BoEd releases a statement days later informing the public that they will take no action and are not responsible for his statements. David Hensley publishes the home address, private email address, and phone number of a critic who emailed his official BoEd email account. He redacts the private information eventually (under public pressure), but the damage has been done as the person receives several threats.
January 22, 2021 - The Pilot publishes an article about Southern Pines Primary School moving from in person instruction to virtual schooling due to a rise in Covid cases.
Late January, 2021 - Citizens begin noticing that David Hensley is blocking constituents and deleting comments from his official Board of Education page in violation of established legal precedent. Several citizens begin collecting evidence of this illegal behavior and contact Duke Law Center for assistance. Moore County based education advocacy group PSA: Public School Advocates begins collecting food and household items to distribute to families with children in MCS who have been quarantined.
January 29, 2021 - McDeeds Creek Elementary school shuts down for two weeks due a huge spike in Covid cases and exposures.
January 31, 2021 - Moore County Board of Education Member David Hensley outs the identity of a minor alleged sexual assault victim on his official BoEd Facebook page.
February 4, 2021 - Emily Grace’s Rainey’s group Moore Families for Quality Education begins a targeted campaign to spread misinformation regarding new social studies standards being adopted by the state of NC. Shortly after, Rainey and her group turns their psyops campaign against social/emotional learning and surveys in Moore County Schools.
February 10, 2021 - During a MCS Board of Education meeting, Chair Libby Carter attempts to explain to the community why the Board will not consider censuring David Hensley. She makes a public plea for civility among Board members.
Mid February 2021 - Emily Grace Rainey’s Moore Citizens for Freedom begins openly attacking locally owned businesses that adhere to the Governor’s mask mandate. Moore County GOP communications guru specifically targets Ashten’s restaurant for closure.
Late February, 2021 - Flyers begin circulating around Pinehurst encouraging an “uprising” from citizens and businesses to declare the pandemic “lockdowns” over. The flyer is publicized by Steve Woodward in the MoCo GOP’s newsletter as an “Alfie Oaks Uprising.” Several Pinehurst area businesses report being pressured and intimidated into displaying the flyer in their shops. The flyer is linked to Pinehurst Village Council member Lydia Boesch. Pinehurst resident Justin Bradford (a lifelong Republican) addresses the Pinehurst Village Council about his concerns regarding a sitting council member seemingly glorifying the call to violence surrounding Alfie Oaks. In the weeks that follow, Mr. Bradford’s personal business is attacked by Boesch and other high ranking Republican officials in Moore County. A public records request shows Ms. Boesch used her official Pinehurst Village email account to attack Mr. Bradford’s character and business. As a result of this coordinated attack, Mr. Bradford’s business loses thousands of dollars in revenue.
February 26, 2021 - “The Pilot” publishes an article outlining the Boesch, Woodward, Bradford controversy.
March, 2021 - David Hensley and other members of the Board of Education receive a warning letter from Duke Law Center, instructing them that blocking constituents and deleting comments from their official social media pages is unconstitutional and will result in a lawsuit. David Hensley responds by disabling comments on all posts of his official Facebook page. The Moore County Board of Education unveils its proposed budget for 2022-2023 to the public. The budget (recommended by Hensley and adopted by the rest of the BoEd) switches the local funding model to “per pupil” funding, which public education advocates quickly identify as an ALEC authored scheme designed to siphon money out of public schools. As a result, the public doesn’t support the budget and as a result, final budget contains a reduction of 4% funding from the county to MCS.
March 12, 2021 - Moore County Board of Education member David Hensley appears on WEEB with JD Zumwalt. They accuse MCS teaching pedophilia and falsely accuse the system of teaching a curriculum approved by the North American Man Boy Love Association. They provide no evidence to back up these provably false statements.
March 13, 2021 - Rita Miller and Linda Gray, long suspected as being fake troll accounts used to openly harass and bully public education advocates and incumbent members of the BoEd are exposed as frauds.
April 12, 2021 - In a comment on JD Zumwalt’s Facebook page, Board of Education member David Hensley accuses Moore County Schools Director of Communication Catherine Nagy of breaking the law by limiting public comments at Board of Education meetings. The videos of the meetings are reviewed and prove that Ms. Murphy did nothing wrong. Mr. Hensley never corrects the record or apologizes. The Moore County Board of Education holds a meeting. In spite of the fact that citizens were told that the Board would NOT accept comments from the public via email, David Hensley reads an email from Moore County GOP communications guru Steve Woodward into the record in direct violation of stated MCS Board policy.
April 16, 2021 - Moore County Board of Education member Robert Levy unveils a new policy proposal to “protect women’s sports” which will allow MCS employees to inspect the genitalia of any child who wishes to play sports who is suspected of identifying as a gender that doesn’t match the gender assigned by their birth certificate.
April 20, 2021- Board of Education members Robert Levy and David Hensley appear on WEEB radio and compare videos produced by MCS staff to highlight successes to Nazi propaganda.
April 21, 2021 - A Freedom of Information Act request by a citizen for the text messages sent to and from BoEd members during a public meeting uncovers controversial and racist texts sent between Robert Levy, David Hensley, and Philip Holmes during the open session of the meeting. In the texts, Mr. Levy states that telling black kids not to “act white” is telling them not to “be successful” and that more black staff needs to be hired at MCS so that black students will not believe they are being punished by “whitey.” Hensley appears on WEEB attacking the community member who submitted the FOIA request (Alexa Roberts) as the "radical wacko leftist crazy Mayor of WP who shall not be named.” Moore Voices publishes a response by Ms. Roberts to Hensley’s insults and accusations.
April 27, 2021 - The Board of Education meeting ends in an explosive shouting match after members Pam Thompson and Libby Carter make public statements critical of member Robert Levy for comparing promotional videos made by MCS schools to highlight their successes to Nazi propaganda. Members Levy, Hensley, and Holmes immediately join anti mask/anti vaccine protesters gathered outside the meeting to encourage them to remove Carter and Thompson from office. Protest organizer Beth Ann Pratte calls Pinecrest principal Stefanie Philips a dictator and says she is coming for Phillps’ job. Later that evening, Chair Carter posts on social media to address the controversy.
April 28, 2021 - Moore County GOP communications guru Steve Woodward posts on his social media page that Moore County Board of Education Chair is a “dictator” who needs to be "destroyed."
May 10, 2021 - The Moore County Board of Education votes 4-3 against implementing an “anti-critical race” policy in Moore County Schools. The policy, written by Robert Levy and supported by David Hensley and Philip Holmes, would have forbidden teachers from introducing any “concept” regarding race, sex, religion, etc. that might make any child feel “uncomfortable.”
May 11, 2021 - David Hensley appears on WEEB to discuss actions taken by the Board of Education at the previous night’s meeting. In his comments, he denigrates and mocks several of his constituents - making fun of everything from their choice of hair color to their private choices regarding their children’s education. He also responds on the radio and on Facebook and to the racist text messages between himself, Levy, and Holmes by attacking the person (Alexa Roberts) who submitted the FOIA that uncovered the texts.
May 12, 2021 - Screenshots are taken from the private advocacy group PSA: Public School Advocates and sent to Board of Education member David Hensley. The screenshots are of a late night (5/11/21) post by PSA co-founder Alexa Roberts venting her frustration about “old, white, male” politicians insisting on telling professional teachers how to teach. Mr. Hensley posts the screenshot on his official Facebook page, calling Ms. Roberts (who happens to serve as the Mayor of Whispering Pines) a “bigot.” Mr. Hensley (who is NOT a resident of Whispering Pines) attends a meeting of the Whispering Pines Village Council and launches a vicious personal attack on Mayor Roberts. Hensley and Roberts exchange heated words at the meeting, and Hensley causes such a disturbance that another council member threatens to have him removed from the building by village police.
May 13, 2021 - “The Pilot” publishes an article titled “Mayor, School Board Member Exchange Barbs at Whispering Pines Meeting.” “Moore Voices” publishes a commentary about Hensley’s behavior at the meeting and the hypocrisy exposed in his public comments.
May 18, 2021 - Moore Voices publishes its second commentary regarding Board of Education member David Hensley’s attack on Whispering Pine Mayor Alexa Roberts. In the commentary, writer Cheryl Christy provides evidence that both Mr. Hensley and his wife, Lisa Dishman, are registered as voters in Moore County as minorities (Hensley as Hispanic, Dishman as African American).
June, 2021 - Amid pressure from right wing groups such as Emily Grace Rainey’s Moore Families for Quality Education and led by David Hensley, the Moore County Board of Education decides to delay implementing the new State of NC Department of Education’s Social Study Standards.
July, 2021 - David Hensley posts on his social media page that he intends for the Moore County Board of Education to eliminate the position of Military Liaison. There is a huge backlash in the community against Hensley’s proposal, which becomes even greater after it becomes apparent that Mr. Hensley is motivated by personal dislike of the person who currently holds the position - long time public education advocate Rollie Sampson.
July 12, 2021 - Large numbers of military and military connected parents speak at the Board of Education meeting in support of both MCS Military Liaison Rollie Sampson and her position. Board members David Hensley and Robert Levy speak at length about their intention to prevent the Board of Education from selling the old Southern Pines Primary School to the Southern Pines Housing and Land Trust. The school is a historical treasure in the primarily African American community of West Southern Pines, but Hensley has repeatedly called the proposed sale a "crack deal" and "political payback for Democrats." The Moore County Board of Education passes the “anti CRT'' policy authored by Levy - which has been reshaped into an “anti discrimination” policy. The policy passes 6-1, with the only African American member of the Board, Pam Thompson, voting against it.
July 19, 2021 - Exactly six days after the Moore County Board of Education passes the new “nondiscrimination policy,” David Hensley appears on WEEB with JD Zumwalt and participates in a discussion that calls two MCS teachers for targeting by name on air.
August 2, 2021 - David Hensley once again denigrates PSA: Public School Advocates members in a public meeting of the Board of Education. He does so in spite of the fact that the group has been providing MCS families affected by Covid quarantines food and household supplies for months.
August 6, 2021 - Local attorney Thomas Van Camp sends a letter to the members of the Board of Education disputing the misinformation David Hensley has been peddling about the value of the old Southern Pines Primary School in order to stop the sale to the Land Trust.
August 9, 2021 - The Board of Education votes 4-3 to continue the mandatory mask policy at Moore County Schools. David Hensley and Robert Levy continue to stall the sale of the old Southern Pines Primary School Southern Pines Housing and Land Trust.
September 2021 - The NC DOT agrees to lower the speed limit in front of Aberdeen Elementary School after MCS parent and public education advocate Teresa Brown rallies the community after an accident involving a school bus.
September 7, 2021 - A threatening voicemail is left on a phone number belonging to the Human Resources department at the MCS central office. The message is received after 5:00 pm and the offices were closed. The female caller makes reference to the mask mandate and the four BoEd members who voted in favor of it. According to a statement made later to WRAL by BoEd member Robert Levy, the language included the warning that the caller knew where these Board members lived.
September 10, 2023 - The voicemail box that the threat was left on is finally checked and the threat is heard by MCS staff. The threat is immediately reported to MCS Police who call the Moore County Sheriff's Department. The MCS Police and the Moore County Sheriff's Department recommend moving the BoEd meeting scheduled for Monday, September 13 at West Pine Middle School to the MCS central office in Carthage for security reasons. MCS announces the location of the meeting has been moved and that although there will be heightened security measures at the meeting (increased police presence, the forbidding of protests outside the meeting, metal detector, etc.) they have "no reason" to believe that "staff, students, or visitors" are in any danger. "The Pilot" publishes a brief article repeating the MCS announcement. Social media immediately explodes with accusations and semi violent rhetoric directed at the BoEd Chair and three other BoEd members.
September 11, 2021 - Accusations grow louder that the threat was fabricated. BoEd Chair Libby Carter is criticized falsely for moving the location of the 9/13 meeting unilaterally (she was advised to do so by law enforcement). Anger reaches a fever pitch by mid afternoon on social media and thinly veiled threats of violence against four of our school board members are posted on several social media pages (including the comment section of "The Pilot"). Moore Voices posts its first commentary on the threat. Several hours later, BoEd Chair Libby Carter confirms the threat on her official Facebook page. Board of Education Chair.
September 13, 2021 - The State Bureau of Investigation is called in by our local law enforcement agencies to assist in the investigation. MCS announces that they will allow protests outside the meeting at the central office. Approximately 100 people gather before the meeting to protest the mask mandate. Anti mask protestors clash with a parent who was recently released from mandatory quarantine. Although the parent is no longer covid positive, protestors attempt to file criminal charges against her. The meeting is abruptly canceled when Board members David Hensley and Robert Levy bring up procedural problems with the public notification of the change of venue. Libby Carter and Bob Levy both give statements to WRAL confirming a threat was received. Levy tells WRAL that the threat specifically made references to where the homes of BoEd members were located. "The Pilot" publishes another vague story that stops short of confirming the threat.
September 14, 2021 - Board of Education Chair Libby Carter posts an explanation regarding the canceled meeting. MCS announces that the canceled meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday, September 22 at the Moore County System Office. Fear, confusion, and anger continues to run rampant in the community. BoEd members post dueling and conflicting explanations of the situation. Both David Hensley and Robert Levy post on social media denying any threat was ever made to members of the Board of Education, in spite of the fact that Mr. Levy personally confirmed the threat to WRAL.
September 15, 2021 - Moore Voices publishes a rough timeline of the circumstances surrounding the threat and calls on our BoEd, law enforcement officials, and "The Pilot" newspaper to clarify the situation in order to tamp down the fear, confusion. and angry vitriol on social media and in the community.
September 18, 2021 - "The Pilot" publishes an editorial critical of how the BoEd and MCS Administration is handling the situation. The editorial contains the irresponsible sentence "The board actually canceled Monday’s meeting not because of any threat — oops, sorry, a matter of “particular concern” — but because of a ticky-tack error in the way the meeting was advertised" which further casts doubt as to whether or not a threat was ever made.
September 21, 2021 - MCS Chief Arthur Frye files an official police report. The report is taken by Captain Rodney Hardy.
September 22, 2021 - Two demonstrations are held outside the BoEd meeting at the central office (one to celebrate teachers and staff and one to protest the mask mandate and vaccines). During the meeting, MCS staff who are required to be at the meeting to provide reports to the BoEd are heckled, insulted, and cursed by members of the audience and a public speaker is removed from the meeting by police for refusing to wear a mask (violating the clearly published rules of attendance). The BoEd votes 4-3 to continue the mask mandate in MoCo public schools. Emily Grace Rainey (a Lee County resident) disrupts the Board Comments by yelling and insulting BoEd members while they are conducting business, then refuses to leave when asked by law enforcement, forcing the BoEd to abruptly end the meeting. After adjournment, Rainey insults and harasses Moore County Schools Police officers while being videoed. BoEd member Philip Holmes is shown on video declining to defend police officers and instead protecting Rainey from arrest and offering her a ride home. "The Pilot" publishes yet another vague article that doesn't confirm the 9/7 threat was made.
September 28, 2021 - Moore Voices verifies that Representative Jamie Boles received confirmations from both Moore County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey and Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields that a threat had been made against members of the Moore County BoEd and that the threat was "credible."
September 29, 2021 - MCS Director of Communications Catherine Murphy responds to a Freedom of Information request by a citizen regarding information about the threat by confirming that there is an active investigation but that the SBI is involved so the details are not subject to FOIs. Moore Voices obtains copies of Ms. Murphy's response. Moore Voices publishes a commentary with the obtained documents and again calls on members of our BoEd, our law enforcement officials, and our elected leaders to confirm and denounce the threat and asks "The Pilot" to do its job and investigate and report on the crisis.
September 30, 2021 - Ms. Murphy sends an addendum to the FOI request stating that it was "brought to her attention" that the police report regarding the threat is public information and provides the report to the requesting citizen. Moore Voices obtains a copy of the police report.
October 1, 2021 - "The Pilot" finally publishes an article written by Mary Kate Murphy confirming the threat is real and credible and is being investigated by the SBI. The article contains no real reporting, but is simply the printing of vague statements by MCS officials.
October 2, 2021 - Moore Voices posts this timeline as the community waits for someone in county leadership or "The Pilot" newspaper to step up and fulfill their responsibility to properly inform the public as to whether our elected officials are safe in their homes and whether or not our public meetings are secure. In that commentary, all previous media stories are linked.
October 12, 2021 - The Board of Education votes to extend the mask mandate 4-3. The Board also votes to sell the old Southern Pines Primary School to the Land Trust - pending deed restrictions insisted on by David Hensley.
October 21, 2021 - David Hensley accuses Superintendent Dr. Grimesey of breaking the law regarding the securing of a grant. Mr. Grimesey handles the baseless accusation with dignity and grace, simply stating "I acknowledge I stand accused" and moving on to other matters. The next day, Chair Libby Carter confirms that the BoEd attorney has informed her that no law was violated by Dr. Grimesey.
October 29, 2021 - Board of Education Chair Libby Carter announces that MCS Superintendent Dr. Robert Grimesey has announced his intent to retire effective January 31, 2022.
November 4, 2021 - Board of Education Chair Libby Cater posts on social media explaining to the community why Moore County Schools does not intend to provide teachers and MCS staff with “mental health days” or “retention bonuses” as many other NC school districts are doing.
November 9, 2021 - The final vote to accept deed restrictions and to sell the old SP primary school to the SP Housing and Land Trust is removed from the BoEd's agenda at the last minute due to a legal and political stunt by right wing activists Beth Ann Pratte and James Moore.
November 10, 2021 - the sequence of events that led to the abrupt removal of the final vote to sell the old SP primary school to the Land Trust becomes clear.
3:00pm - suit filed by Beth Anne Pratte and James Moore seeking a restraining order to prevent the Board from selling to the Land Trust. Pratte and Moore are represented by Landon White from Raleigh
4:30pm - Dr. Grimesey is notified of suit filed
6:30pm - Board tables agenda item so lawsuit can be reviewed
Sometime between 3:00 and 6:30 - Superior Court Judge Judge Webb dismisses the lawsuit, but word of that doesn't make it back to Grimesey in time to prevent the sale from being removed from the agenda
November 22, 2021 - Moore County Schools finally complies with lawful freedom of information requests and releases the called-in threat against members of the Board of Education to the media. As previously reported by Moore Voices (and only Moore Voices) the voicemail was left by a female with a northern accent and contained vulgar and graphic language along with the phrases “we will find your houses” and “we are coming for you and we are not going to play nice.”
December 13, 2021 - The Board of Education finally votes to sell the old Southern Pines Primary School to the Southern Pines Housing and Land Trust in a 4-3 vote. This vote ends a years-long effort by David Hensley to stop the sale of the historic site to the African American community of West Southern Pines. The Board also votes (after months of public pressure) to award $1,000 bonuses to MCS teachers and staff. The Board votes 7-0 to lift the mask mandate in MCS.
December 17, 2021 - David Hensley appears with JD Zumwalt on WEEB. Zumwalt states that “if you are a teacher, you are part of the problem.”