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Wis. woman charged for threats to state senators

By JASON SMATHERS
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin woman accused of emailing death threats to GOP state lawmakers during the Capitol debate over the collective bargaining law was charged Thursday with two felonies.

Katherine Windels, 26, was charged with two counts of creating a bomb scare, along with two misdemeanor counts of computer-based threats to injure or harm. The charges carry a combined maximum penalty of 7.5 years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint, the Cross Plains woman sent two emails to senators threating to shoot them and plant bombs around their homes.

The first message sent March 9 to Sen. Robert Cowles of Green Bay said the sender and others had decided to kill the Republican senator by “arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head,” the complaint said. The email also claimed the group had planted bombs around the senator’s house and car and the Capitol building.

A similar email with the same threats was sent to other Republican senators two hours later. Both emails chastised the lawmakers for voting earlier that day for the budget repair bill, which strips most public employees of collective bargaining rights. The emails also praised Republican Sen. Dale Schultz of Green Bay, who was not sent a threat, as “heroic” for voting against it.

The emails were sent from a computer account that appeared to belong to someone named Lisa Patterson. Police contacted Patterson, who said she didn’t set up the account, the complaint said.

Authorities eventually tracked the computer’s IP address — the unique number assigned to every computer that connects to the Internet — to Windels’ parents. Police approached Windels, who allegedly admitted she sent the emails but said she never meant to carry out the attacks.

Calls by The Associated Press to Windels’ house were not answered.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Windels had not yet been served with the complaint.

The complaint was filed hours after the Department of Justice expressed concern that Ozanne had not yet filed charges against the suspect. Windels is the only person charged so far for threats against the lawmakers.

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