UTAH STATE PRISON — Cody Lynn Parris said when he and a friend decided to do a bomb hoax at an elementary school, they didn’t really think about the consequences at the time.
“We just happened to be in front of the school, and we’re like, ‘Hey, this seems like a good idea to do,’” he told a member of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole on Tuesday. “We didn’t really think anyone would take it too seriously. Like I said, it was just us being stupid.”
But not long after, as Parris was sitting in his house and heard a news helicopter fly overhead, and then turned on the TV to watch the chaotic scene he had created, he knew he had gone too far.
“We kind of thought it wasn’t funny no more at that point,” he said. “We got scared and decided not to talk about it, that it would kind of go under the rug.”
But rather than go away, authorities caught up with Parris because of forensic evidence collected from a recent stolen gun case. Fingerprints from the fake bomb matched with Parris.
He pleaded guilty in 2016 to attempted possession of a weapon of mass destruction in one case, and attempted theft in another. But in 2018, after failing to comply with the conditions of his probation, his original suspended sentence of 1 to 15 years at the Utah State Prison was imposed.
On Tuesday, Parris, 27, had his first parole hearing.
In a recording of the hearing, he recounted the incident on Aug. 26, 2015. Parris said he and a friend had just purchased a remote control car at a pawn shop and happened to be walking by Oquirrh Hills Elementary, 5241 S. 4280 West, Kearns. That’s when they remembered watching similar hoaxes online.
“We just saw some YouTube pranks going on, and we thought it would be funny to do a stupid prank like that,” he said. “I don’t know why we thought it was a good prank. I guess we kind of wanted to scare people.”
Parris and a juvenile friend he was with took the empty box from their remote control car and wrote “bomb,” “boom” and “touch sensitive” on it, and left it in front of the school. The two then went back to Parris’ home.
When the box was discovered, it resulted in the school being evacuated and a bomb squad from Unified Fire Authority responding to the scene.
The school was evacuated at the time. Unified Fire Authority personnel arrived at the school with a bomb unit and determined there was nothing inside the box.
“This process took a significant amount of time and several resources,” according to the charging documents.
In his other case, Parris was caught shooting a stolen firearm in a field with several juveniles.
During the parole hearing, Parris was asked about his behavior since high school and how he wasn’t going to school, didn’t have a steady job and was kicked out of his parents’ house when he was 21.
“I really wasn’t thinking much about growing up. I was just thinking about hanging out with friends,” he said.
Parris said he has made progress while in prison. If he serves his full time, he will be released in 2033. His sentencing guidelines, however, suggest a much earlier release.
The full five member board will now vote on whether to grant parole or set a date for another hearing.