herald

Thursday 18 January 2018

Teen victim of 10-hour neck bomb still wonders why me?

AN Australian teenager who spent 10 hours with a fake bomb chained to her neck said today she is relieved the FBI has made an arrest.

Paul Douglas Peters was arrested in Kentucky on Monday in connection with the attack on 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver, who was studying at home when a masked man carrying a baseball bat broke into her house and attached the bomb-like device to her neck.

The man left behind a note demanding money.

Bomb specialists spent 10 hours working to remove the device, which was later found to contain no explosives.

A smiling Miss Pulver told reporters outside her home in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Mosman that she was "very relieved" to hear of Peters' arrest.

"I'm glad it's all over," she said.

Asked whether she was wondering why she'd been targeted, she replied: "I think we're all wondering why."

Peters, a 50-year-old Australian investment banker who travels frequently between the US and Australia, was arrested by the FBI at his ex-wife's house near Louisville, Kentucky.

Yesterday US judge Dave Whalin remanded Peters in custody pending an extradition hearing set for October 14 in Louisville.

Australian police said they plan to charge him with a range of offenses, including kidnapping and breaking and entering.

What ties Peters has to the wealthy Pulver family remain unclear, although federal court documents released yesterday say he once worked for a company with links to the Pulvers.

New details of Miss Pulver's chilling ordeal were unveiled in the arrest complaint. According to the documents, the teen was studying for her high school exams on August 3 when she saw the intruder walk in carrying a black aluminum baseball bat and wearing a striped, multi-coloured balaclava.



HURT

"Sit down and no one needs to get hurt," he told her.

He forced the black box he was carrying against her throat and looped a device similar to a bike chain around her neck.

The grey-haired intruder, dressed in beige trousers and a light-coloured shirt, locked the box around her neck and placed a lanyard and a plastic document sleeve around her neck. It contained a handwritten 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.

After a few minutes Miss Pulver texted her mother, and soon after that she called her father.

Miss Pulver was "crying and hysterical" when bomb technicians, negotiators and detectives rushed to the scene, but she eventually calmed down.

The note around her 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 left was dirkstraun1840@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.

Peters showed no emotion at yesterday's hearing.

Asked by reporters if he had any message for Miss Pulver, Peters said, "I hope she's well" as he was placed into a police van.

His attorney, Scott Cox, said Peters will contest the charges in Australia, but he did not know whether he will fight extradition.

Authorities said Peters has been involved in various businesses. Mr Cox said Peters is an attorney who makes his living as an investment banker in Australia and owns his own company.

hnews@herald.ie

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