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Mom admits helping son build weapons cache

A woman admitted she helped her troubled, bullied 14-year-old son build a cache of weapons by buying him a rifle and gunpowder, but investigators still don't know if she was aware her son was planning a deadly school attack.
Student Arsenal
Dillon Cossey, 14, accused of planning a deadly attack on a high school, is led into the courtroom at the Montgomery County Courthouse for his hearing in Norristown, Pa. in this 2007 picture. The mother of the bullied boy admitted Tuesday she purchased weapons and gunpowder for him.Bradley C. Bower / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A woman who purchased a rifle for her bullied 14-year-old son who was planning a deadly school attack pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of child endangerment.

Michele Cossey, 46, admitted that she bought her son Dillon a rifle with a laser scope and gunpowder, which investigators said he was using to build grenades.

Prosecutors said Dillon came to idolize the two shooters responsible for the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and was planning an attack last year on Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, which some of his former schoolmates attended.

Cossey, bullied over his weight, had left the school in seventh grade and was being home-schooled. Over time, violent Internet sites fueled his revenge fantasies, his defense lawyer said after his juvenile court plea.

Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Parisi said he thought the mother's purchasing the weapons was "an attempt to boost his self-esteem, and in some way help the child, as misplaced as those thoughts may have been."

Police were tipped off to the alleged school-attack plot by a classmate of Dillon's in October 2007. Police found an arsenal of weapons in his bedroom when he was arrested.

A judge who sentenced Dillon Cossey to a juvenile treatment facility, where he could remain until his 21st birthday.

Mother admits mistakes
Michelle Cossey's sentencing hearing won't happen until after she undergoes a psychiatric evaluation. The maximum possible prison term is 3 1/2 to 7 years, but her defense attorney she could get less than a year — or even just probation — under sentencing guidelines.

Parisi said he doesn't know if Cossey knew about her son's attack plans, but that he hopes to learn that before sentencing.

"If it were to come out that she knew he was planning an attack ... that would certainly increase the severity of the crime," he said.

Authorities did not think the school attack was imminent, but the boy did amass an arsenal — knives, swords, BB guns, the rifle and partly assembled homemade grenades — in his bedroom at his Plymouth Township home.

Michelle Cossey has had twice-a-month supervised visits with her son, is missing him and wants him back home, defense lawyer Tim Woodward said.

"Her ultimate goal is to be reunited with her son," the attorney said. "She does admit that she made some mistakes."