Updated: Reston Assistant Principal Placed On Leave After Arrest for Shoplifting

by Fatimah Waseem January 30, 2018 at 9:30 am 35 Comments

An assistant principal at Hunters Woods Elementary School has been placed on leave after she was arrested for shoplifting at a Target in Reston, according a spokesman for the Fairfax County Public Schools System.

Melissa Tochterman, 47, of Herndon, was arrested and charged with grand larceny last Thursday evening.

Tochterman left the store with a cart full of unpaid items. Video footage showed she left with $690 worth of merchandise, police said.

Police released information about the incident Monday evening.

This story was updated at 12:33 p.m. to include information on Tochterman’s employment status.

Photo via FCPD

  • tattler
    • Tammi Petrine

      How this cruel response is allowed by Reston Now is stunning. For the sake of humanity and common sense, can we not have some decency standards on commentators? This response is heart-breaking. I do not know the lady in question, the facts of the event nor commentator. My love of our Reston community tells me that nothing of merit is to be added by posts like this.

      • meganm78

        Well the facts seem clear. She tried to steal something, and that’s against the law. I see no need for compassion.

  • Crowd sourcing editors

    I think Fatimah should check she’s grammar.

  • The Constitutionalist

    Maybe we should build a wall around Herndon and keep all the Herndonians out.

    • Mist ery

      That would solve 2 problems….

  • Mike M

    Another photo for the FCPS Hall of Shame. WHAT WAS she thinking. Big, I guess – $690 round of “shopping.” Not much compared to her career, retirement, pride. What else has FCPS put in charge of kids? Just pains me to think about it.

    • Paul

      Mike, maybe what’s going on here is mental illness or breakdown. Clearly she wasn’t thinking because if she had been thinking she wouldn’t have risked her career, retirement and everything else for $700. bucks worth or crap from Target. Try a little compassion.

      • Conservative Senior

        This is so sad. Thank you Paul for your thoughtfulness.

      • Mike M

        You know this how? Was the teacher who shoplifted beer with her student also experiencing mental illness. Are all white thieves suffering from mental illness?

      • OneReally

        ” mental illness or breakdown.” Isn’t an excuse to break the law. It might help with sentencing portion of the case, but it’s not a free pass.

      • Amy Sue

        Most people who commit a crime have some sort of mental illness or breakdown, not just middle class white people. If criminals were thinking right, they wouldn’t risk their freedom, ability to easily find jobs, social acceptance, etc. So if your answer is compassion for this white middle class woman, it should be compassion for every law breaker.

  • Fact

    Middle aged women trying to juggle careers, children and elderly relatives are suffering from depression and anxiety more than any other social group, NHS figures show.
    One in four women aged between 45 and 64 now experience some form of mental disorder – an increase of 20 per cent in the last 15 years.

    This decline in mental health is greater than any other age or gender group, according to the research.

    The study also found that women in general suffer more mental problems – or talk about it more -with 21.5 per cent complaining of stress or depression compared to 13.6 per cent of men.

    • meganm78

      By this logic, soccer moms should be allowed to steal because their lifestyle choices has led society to feel bad for them? She should be given a pass for being a female???

    • Amy Sue

      Most criminals have mental or social problems. Why is it we only make excuses for middle class white people and call the rest trash deserving of their fate.

  • TRS

    This breaks my heart. I pray compassion is shown to her.

    • Greg


  • Southie

    This is a very sad situation and Ms Tochterman might have emotional issues that led to her alleged theft, but stealing nearly $700 worth of goods is a crime that has consequences and she’ll need to face them, including the potential loss of her career with FCPS. Individuals who take on leadership positions to guide children need to demonstrate strong morals and integrity; with this behavior, she’s demonstrated the opposite.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      And yet, Donald J. Trump is our President. Go figure.

  • Shocked….Not Really

    It’s amazing that when a news story about a person of color that has committed a crime is posted on this page all the hateful, racist, lack of compassion, throw the book at them, and jump to conclusion posts and statements that are placed here. Yet, when a white woman commits a crime each statement is defending her, stating she must have a mental illness, people are asking others to have compassion for her, etc. Yet, I’m unsure any of you know her or her circumstances, just like you don’t know the circumstances of anyone that has committed a crime that is posted here. There is clearly a divide here in Reston and its shameful. I’m unsure why all are not given the same compassion. Just look at the news stories for the past few days, look at the hateful statements ( and assumptions) that have been made without even knowing the facts. There is a huge Reston divide based on skin color and address. Heaven forbid you live on the South Side…..you just may be a criminal. I don’t know what drove her to this and my heart breaks for her family, but the bias and prejudice here in Reston, on the RA Board, and on this site in the comments section is sicking. For those that don’t see it just look at previous crime post and scroll to the comments section. If you’re going to throw criminals under the bus with your hateful just make sure you’re equally spreading your hate to criminals all races.

    • Tammi Petrine

      I completely agree and have commented before begging vicious and racist comments on these threads to be monitored. They are not and trolls take great pleasure on persecuting anyone who seeks moderation. Thank you for YOUR kind and constructive comments. The only part of which I am unaware is your condemnation of the RA Board. I would be very interested in speaking to you privately about this. Never should racism be tolerated in any local organization, especially in Reston where diversity is celebrated.

    • Amy Sue

      Yes, of course. But it’s not just in Reston. Racism is everywhere.

    • Reston Realist

      Very well said…. this double standard is what is really sad and heart breaking.

  • Shocked….Not Really

    I’ve seen more crimes committed by middle and upper class white
    middle aged and young adults than I ever have in my life at this moment
    in time due to the heroin and opioid crisis in our area. This crisis
    doesn’t care who it hurts, no matter the race, sex, or income level. It has destroyed millions of people/families of all walks of life no matter their income, education, status, profession, etc. This is why we shouldn’t judge people before we know their situation, no matter the race


    Lakes House notwithstanding, I teach you how to shop! Not a single strand of racism in my bones. VOTE ME IN, thanks

  • Joe

    Public shaming should go away. What we have here is the modern version of putting someone in the village stocks. She will be punished both legally and by her employer, so humiliation by broadcasting on this site is unnecessary.

    • Reston Realist

      Let’s give her a safe space and a counselor.

      • Mist ery

        Haha good one…

    • Greg

      But you (and all the others) shaming the shamers is OK. #doomed.

      • Joe

        Disagreeing with a news outlet’s decision is not shaming the shamers.

        • Greg

          Then what is it?

  • Mist ery

    She isn’t not a shoplifter, she is an undocumented customer…

  • Sid K

    Mrs Tochterman is an excellent leader. My son goes to this school for the gifted program and have had a few occasions to interact with her, she is also a huge local sports fan of the Capitals who goes for a lot of games. Facts of the case is most important to determine justice but as an educator, she deserves leniency if any.. 700$ is nothing for this loss. God bless.

    • obxers

      “… she is also a huge local sports fan of the Capitals who goes for a lot of games.” I am curious why you believe that has any bearing at all on what she is alleged to have done, here? Or why that in any manner justifies leniency if she did what it is alleged she did? Or why being an educator justifies leniency if, in fact, she did commit grand larceny? Makes no sense.

    • Greg

      Why should an educator deserve leniency?

      Also, facts are not is. $700, not 700$.


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