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FBI Wiretap Uncovers Massive Seventh-Grade 'Crush Ring'

WASHINGTON, DC—The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a 400-page report Monday offering detailed evidence of a massive seventh-grade crush ring operating in the Dallas area.

FBI director Louis Freeh answers questions before Congress regarding the discovery of a massive crush ring in an Arlington, TX, middle school. Five seventh-grade girls, all of whom allegedly like the same boy, were implicated in the ring.

The ring, which FBI officials said involves five seventh-grade girls and has been in operation for nearly seven months, centers around Arlington, TX, eighth-grader Dylan Wagner.

"Between May and November 1997, the FBI used wiretaps to collect over 900 hours of recorded telephone conversations among five Arlington West Middle School girls regarding Dylan Wagner," said FBI director Louis Freeh, appearing before a select Senate subcommittee. "Transcripts of these girls' conversations overwhelmingly point to the existence of a collective, five-way crush on Mr. Wagner, whom the girls believe to be the cutest guy in school, if not the nation."

The frequency and length of telephone calls, Freeh noted, were fairly stable over the seven months, but increased sharply if Wagner got a haircut or was absent from class.

Stacy Lindstrom, 13, and Jenny Chung, 12, cited by the FBI report as leaders of the ring, have allegedly logged an average of 17 Wagner-related phone hours per week since May. The pair was recorded discussing, among other things: how much they liked Wagner; which one of them liked Wagner more; and what they would do if Wagner ever spoke to them.

The two are also co-authors of the Official Everything In The World About Dylan Wagner Handbook. The handbook—a highly classified 12-page document assembled by Lindstrom and Chung containing a reported 47 pieces of information about Wagner, including what his favorite movie is, what girls he has allegedly kissed, and what shirt he was wearing during a Sept. 12, 1997, trip to Westlake Mall—has thus far eluded the FBI and is believed to be hidden deep within Lindstrom's closet.

FBI officials believe the four girls pictured to be the most active members of the crush ring--a clandestine network devoted to the admiration of Dylan Wagner.

In addition to Chung and Lindstrom, FBI officials named two other key members of the crush ring, Tonya Shanklin and Lisa Rugowski. A fifth member, whose identity has yet to be determined by the FBI, is referred to in the report by her alias, "Kell."

Also captured by FBI operatives was a 40-minute, Nov. 28, 1997, conversation between Shanklin and Lindstrom involving highly classified crush-ring operations, including plans to slip an anonymous note through the slats of Wagner's locker; ride past Wagner's house on bicycles; call Wagner's house and hang up; and take pictures of Wagner competing in Arlington West's Dec. 11 wrestling match against Tyler Middle School.

"The wiretaps reveal the extremely sub rosa nature of this crush ring," said FBI field operative Ron Pitti, who coordinated the wiretap effort. "Each girl was separately sworn to secrecy regarding any shared knowledge of the crush. In addition, each member was explicitly informed that the other members of the circle would, and I quote, 'totally kill you' if word of the crush ring ever were to get back to Dylan Wagner."

Arlington West science teacher and playground monitor Ida Edgell said she had suspected the girls "might be up to something," but opted not to investigate. "I've definitely seen these particular girls congregating in a suspicious manner during lunch hour," Edgell said. "But as long as no one's smoking or climbing up the flagpole, I just let them be."

While it is still unclear what action, if any, the federal government will take against members of the crush ring, their families are already moving forward with punitive action: The day the FBI report was released, Rugowski's parents scheduled an emergency house meeting.

"Lisa told me she was spending all that time on the phone working on a collaborative science project," Rugowski's mother, Sandra Rugowski, said. "Boy, oh boy, someone's getting grounded and good."

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