Suspect in collar bomb plot tracked through email
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 17:08
Louisville: An Australian who allegedly strapped a fake bomb to the neck of a Sydney schoolgirl in a bizarre extortion attempt was tracked down here through his US email account, authorities said.

Paul Douglas Peters was arrested by an FBI SWAT team in a Louisville suburb, closing an investigative trail that led across two continents -- starting in the suburban Sydney home where a bat-wielding, masked intruder first accosted Madeleine Pulver, 18, on August 3.

Peters was due in court in Louisville today on a provisional arrest warrant by Australian authorities seeking his extradition to answer charges of kidnapping, extortion and aggravated breaking and entry.

An arrest complaint made public recounted how Pulver was studying in her bedroom at her family's luxury home in the leafy suburb of Mosman when a masked man entered with a baseball bat.

"Sit down and no one needs to get hurt," the intruder told her, according to the complaint.

He then proceeded to strap a black box to her neck with what appeared to be a bicycle chain, it said. Attached to the box was a lanyard at the end of which was a USB drive and a plastic document sleeve.

The intruder then left, but Pulver still endured a 10-hour ordeal in which police explosives experts tried to disarm the box, believing it to be a bomb.

Inside the sleeve was a note that read: "Powerful new technology plastic explosives are located inside the small black combination case delivered to you. The case is booby trapped. It can ONLY be opened safely, if you follow the instructions and comply with its terms and conditions."

Included in the note was a warning not to alert authorities but to await instructions for transferring a "defined sum," and an email address -- -- for communicating with the intruder.

The address proved to be a vital clue in a trail of evidence that prosecutors said led to Peters.

They determined the account was opened at an IP address linked to Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and accessed three times within two hours of the intrusion in Sydney, first from a library and twice more from a video store.

Surveillance footage at the library and at a liquor store next to the video store showed a middle aged man who fit Pulver's description of the intruder, according to the complaint.

The library video caught the man pulling up in a Range Rover, which led investigators to a Range Rover registered in Peters name. His name and address quickly led to the discovery that he had flown out of the country to Chicago on August 8, and then on to Louisville.


First Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 17:08

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