SWAT captures Australian fake bomb suspect in Ky.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — An FBI SWAT team descended on a quiet Louisville suburb to arrest a man authorities say broke into a family’s home in Australia and chained a fake bomb to a teenage woman’s neck as part of an extortion ploy.
Paul “Doug” Peters, 50, faces charges in Australia that include kidnapping and breaking and entering, said Luke Moore of the New South Wales Police. Peters’ initial court appearance was set for Tuesday morning in Louisville and the extradition process will take about two months, authorities said.
His capture comes nearly two weeks after 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver was attacked in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Mosman. She was alone studying for exams when a masked man broke into the house in the middle of the day, chained a device that looked like a bomb to her and left a note with demands before leaving.
Bomb technicians, negotiators and detectives rushed to the scene. Neighboring homes were evacuated, streets were closed and medical and fire crews waited nearby. Pulver spent 10 terrifying hours chained to the device before the bomb squad was able to free her. She was not hurt, and the device was later found to contain no explosives. Australia’s prime minister said the event resembled “a Hollywood script.”
Police say a note had been attached to the device, but they haven’t released details of what it said.
Moore flew from Sydney to Louisville for the arrest, but would not go into detail about what led police to Peters.
“There was a range of pieces of evidence that led us to identify this suspect,” he said at a news conference at FBI offices in Louisville.
Peters is an Australian citizen but has lived in the U.S., including Kentucky. He’s a father of three who was educated at The Scots College in Sydney.
The Pulvers were relieved to hear of the arrest. William Pulver, CEO of an information technology company, described his daughter 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.”
“These past two weeks have been a very difficult time for us and we are hopeful that this development marks the beginning of the end of this traumatic ordeal for our family,” William Pulver told reporters in Sydney, his wife Belinda at his side.
The normally tranquil subdivision of La Grange, about 30 miles northeast of Louisville, was taken aback at the sight of armed SWAT members descending on their neighborhood.
A neighbor who refused to give his name told The Associated Press that his two daughters were at home doing homework when the SWAT team “came in heavy and hard” to the house next door.
“We had guys with machine guns in our back yard,” he said.
No shots were fired and no sirens sounded, he said.
He and his wife estimated that Doug 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 that there were no problems and they were both congenial. Peters had been involved in various businesses, but authorities would not elaborate on what they were.
An FBI investigator combed through items on shelves Monday night in the neat three-car garage of the five-bedroom, two-story home that’s on the market for $400,000, and there is no indication Peters’ ex-wife was involved in the case, Moore said. She was not home when her ex-husband was arrested.
Authorities are still investigating why the suspect targeted the young woman, Moore said.
Peters had indirect links to the family but had never been in the Pulver home before the incident, New South Wales State Crime Command head, Assistant Commissioner Dave Hudson, said Tuesday.
“This has been a baffling and frightening experience,” said William Pulver. “It has tested us all.”
Associated Press writers Janet Cappiello in Louisville and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.
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