Disclosure of threatening text messages against Wichita mayor leads to man’s arrest

Meredith Dowty is accused of criminal threat in connection with threatening text messages...
Meredith Dowty is accused of criminal threat in connection with threatening text messages against Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple.(KWCH)
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 4:00 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A Wichita City Council member reported a man’s text messages to police after he said those messages “took a threatening tone” toward Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple, a probable cause affidavit laying out details leading to criminal charges explained.

Wichita City Council member James Clendenin said 59-year-old Meredith Dowty, a Wichita resident and retired Wichita firefighter, began texting him in late July. Clendenin said Dowty was an acquaintance who reached out to discuss social and political issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic and mask mandates. Dowty was strongly against any mandates as it pertained to the virus response. As Clendenin had voted against a local mask mandate he told investigators that Dowty possibly felt they were “kindred spirits” on that issue. About a month after a Sept. 18 in-person meeting with Dowty, Clendenin reported to police that he felt the messages took a threatening tone. Up to that point, the Wichita City Council member said he did not feel the messages went beyond a venting and argument stage.

In a string of oft-profanity-laced texts ranging from Sept. 9 to Oct. 16, Dowty referenced opposition to Whipple, violence against the mayor, and wanting to know where to find Whipple, the affidavit said.

After police contacted Dowty at his home, the affidavit said he initially would not answer the door. After speaking with an officer on the phone, the affidavit said Dowty told police that (Clendenin) was his friend and that he did not mean the texts as threats. He said he should not have used the “K” word, the affidavit said. Dowty eventually answered the door to his home and officers arrested him.

On Oct. 21, Dowty was officially charged with three counts of criminal threat against Whipple. His bond was set at $50,000.

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