Australian 'collar bomb' suspect arrested in Kentucky
Tue, 16 Aug 2011 22:04:43 GMT —
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) " The masked man who locked a fake bomb to the neck of an Australian millionaire's teenage daughter did not look like your ordinary violent criminal. The gray-haired attacker wielded a baseball bat but wore beige trousers and a light-colored dress shirt, rolled up at the elbows.
Along with demands for money, he left behind an email address that appears to refer to a 45-year-old novel about a ruthless businessman in 19th-century Asia.
That address helped lead police all the way from the wealthy Sydney suburb where the attack occurred to a well-heeled Louisville suburb where they arrested an investment banker, Paul Douglas Peters, at his ex-wife's home on Monday.
Peters once worked for a company with ties to the victim's family, according to federal court documents released Tuesday that also reveal more details about the ordeal 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver endured earlier this month.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin on Tuesday ordered Peters jailed pending an extradition hearing Oct. 14 in Louisville. Peters faces charges in Australia that include kidnapping and breaking and entering.
An arrest complaint filed in court does not elaborate on the 50-year-old's business ties.Read more How they tracked him Email led police to suspect Suspect has links to targeted family
The document says Pulver was studying for her high school exams Aug. 3 in her bedroom when she saw the intruder walk in carrying a black aluminum baseball bat and wearing a striped, multicolored balaclava. "Sit down and no one needs to get hurt," he told her.
Pulver sat on her bed and the intruder placed the bat and a backpack next to her. She noticed he was holding a black box. He forced the box against her throat and looped a device similar to a bike chain around her neck.
The man locked the box around her neck and placed a lanyard and a plastic document sleeve around her neck. It contained a hand-written note with demands, the email address and a USB digital storage device.
"Count to 200," he said as he left, taking the bat and the backpack with him. "... I'll be back ... if you move I can see you I'll be right here," she told authorities, according to the complaint.
After a few minutes Pulver texted her mother, and soon after that she called her father. After telling both of them to call police, she saw that the attacker's note warned not to do that.
Pulver was "crying and hysterical" when bomb technicians, negotiators and detectives rushed to the scene, but she eventually calmed down, the complaint said.
Neighboring homes were evacuated, streets were closed and medical and fire crews waited nearby. Pulver spent 10 hours chained to the device, which was removed after bomb technicians determined it did not contain explosives.
The note around Pulver's neck said the fake bomb contained "powerful new technology plastic explosives" and was booby trapped. Details for delivering "a Defined Sum" would be sent "once you acknowledge and confirm receipt of this message," it said. The USB device contained the same note.
The email address the attacker left is dirkstraun1840(at)gmail.com. Dirk Struan is the main character in James Clavell's 1966 novel "Tai-Pan," about a bitter rivalry between powerful traders in Hong Kong after the end of the First Opium War.
Australian authorities determined that the email account was established May 30 from an Internet Protocol address linked to a Chicago airport. Travel documents obtained from immigration authorities showed that Peters had been at the airport that day.
The email account was accessed three times on the afternoon of Aug. 3, beginning almost two hours after the hoax device was placed around the teenager's neck, the complaint said.
The first access took place at 4:09 p.m. from an IP address registered to a library in Kincumber, about a 50-mile (80-kilometer) drive from the girl's home in Mosman. The account was accessed twice more before 6 p.m. from an IP address registered to a video store a few miles from the library.
Surveillance cameras at the library and at a liquor store next to the video store recorded a man matching Peters' description around that time, the complaint said. A video store employee said a "well-dressed" man came in twice to use one of the store's Internet computers because he was "waiting for an email."
Records from two stores show that Peters bought a black baseball bat, and a USB device and lanyard identical to those left with Pulver, in July, the complaint said.
The arrest complaint said Peters left Australia on a one-way flight from Sydney to Chicago on Aug. 8 and then flew to Kentucky the next day. Peters is an Australian citizen who has lived in the U.S., including Kentucky.
On Aug. 11, a Louisville FBI agent spotted Peters in the backyard of his ex-wife's house, the complaint said.
The FBI arrested Peters without incident Monday in the normally tranquil subdivision of Heather Green near La Grange, about 30 miles northeast of Louisville. Neighbors were taken aback at the sight of armed SWAT members descending on their neighborhood.
"We had guys with machine guns in our backyard," a neighbor who refused to give his name told The Associated Press.
He and his wife estimated that Peters had probably spent about six months out of the last two years at the house. They didn't know him or his ex-wife very well but said that they were both congenial.
Pulver and her family were relieved to hear of the arrest. Her father, William Pulver, described her as "a bright, happy young woman who for reasons we still don't understand had her life turned upside down going through this dreadful experience."
William Pulver was once the president and CEO of NetRankings, a pioneer in tracking online exposure and readership for companies advertising online. He left after the company was sold to ratings giant Nielsen in 2007. He is now the chief executive of Appen Butler Hill, a company that provides language and voice-recognition software and services.
Peters was bound at the legs when he made a brief court appearance Tuesday, then bound at the wrists after the hearing ended.
He showed no emotion, spoke quietly to his attorney and glanced briefly at his ex-wife, Debra, who sat alone in the front row, weeping quietly.
His attorney, Scott Cox, said Peters will contest the charges in Australia, but he did not know whether his client will fight extradition.
Authorities said Peters has been involved in various businesses, but they would not elaborate. Cox said Peters is an attorney who makes his living as an investment banker in Australia and owns his own company.
Peters and his ex-wife divorced in 2007 and have three school-age children together, Cox said. He didn't know how long they were married.
"She's in shock," Cox said of Debra Peters. "This is hard on her and her children. ... She's not involved in any respect to this, at all."Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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