MARYVILLE, Mo. -- A Northwest Missouri State University professor's Facebook post that some thought sounded like a threat to shoot students has landed the man in trouble with the law. But it's not because of the Facebook post itself.
The Nodaway County Sheriff spent all day Friday serving a search warrant at Matthew Rouch's house. They came here looking for guns or bombs, and instead they found marijuana. Lots of it.
All this started when a campus newspaper reporter wrote a story about inappropriate Facebook posts, and Professor Rouch was quoted as posting a comment last week that said he starts out the semester optimistic - quote "but by October, I'll be wanting to get up to the top of the bell tower with a high powered rifle with a good scope and probably a gatling gun as well." Campus police questioned him about it.
"The university professor claimed that it was made in jest, admitted to writing the Facebook post and then deleting it approximately one hour later," said Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice.
But then on Thursday, witnesses on campus reported that Rouch made a supposed joke about having a bomb in his bag, so police brought him in for further questioning. he claimed he didn't have anything more than a BB gun at his home, so investigators got a warrant to search his house to verify that.
"When they entered the house in plain view there was a growing operation of marijuana," said Rice, "there were multiple live plants under heated lights."
Sheriff Darren White said his investigators found 10 live plants, and more than 35 grams of marijuana, plus several bongs and pipes.
"I'm sure they were surprised when that's what they found, like I said it took them in a new direction, so it's a good day for the cops," White said.
He added that a grow of this size is probably not for personal use, and even if it was it's still illegal in the state of Missouri.
Rouch now faces felony charges for both producing and possessing marijuana. The two charges combined means he could face as much as 22 years in prison. As for that Facebook post that started all this? The prosecutor said Rouch wasn't going to get in any trouble for that.
"I'm not going to file anything on the Facebook posts," Rice said, "I did research on making a terroristic threat and it has to be clear it was made seriously and not in jest."
Late Friday a judge set Rouch's bond at $25,000. Rouch is expected to be in court on these charges next week.
In a statement, NWMSU says Rouch is on administrative leave pending an investigation into whether Rouch violated University policy. If it's determined that he did, he could be fired.