How police, FBI tracked down Green Bay suspect in multi-state day care threat investigation

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Green Bay man was arrested over the weekend after a federal grand jury issued an indictment for threatening day cares in two other states.

Michael J. Propst

Federal authorities released very little about the case against Michael Propst, but we learned it started when a local mother received a threatening phone call and contacted Green Bay police.

"Somebody took advantage of the situation and grabbed a cell phone, and in a wrong way, made some pretty terrible phone calls," describes Green Bay Police Lt. Rick Belanger.

He says those calls created scary moments for parents.

It all unfolded in June last year with an anonymous call to a Green Bay mother.

The man on the other end told her he'd abducted her 5-year old daughter and would sexually assault her.

"That she's so precious, and making different comments that's putting the fear of God into a parent, thinking, 'Oh my gosh, my young daughter has been abducted,'" says Belanger.

He says the mother, hysterical, quickly located her child, who was safe, and called police.

"We kind of initially thought it was a prank phone call or a prank type of call, but the real part of the call turned out that somebody's cell phone within that family had been stolen," he says.

Belanger says that woman and her boyfriend began to suspect Michael Propst, who they had seen earlier in the day, might have taken their cell phone.

Somehow the two tracked down Propst, who handed over the stolen phone.

While officers were investigating, with the phone still in their possession, police from another state called that once missing phone.

"Saying that a child was abducted from a day care center and the child was possibly being sexually assaulted," says Belanger.

Green Bay Police then discovered multiple calls to day care centers in Iowa and Indiana, plus internet searches for other centers around the country, all using that same phone in the time it was missing.

"But the fact that he did so many searches to find these day care centers is troubling, and that's what concerned us. Why?" questions Belanger.

And that's still the big unknown.

The FBI took the case because it crossed state lines, but court documents show Propst was arrested in Manitowoc Saturday and is in jail awaiting a new hearing.

"It's bizarre, but he's being held accountable for it," adds Belanger.

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