Felony charges filed against teacher in WI e-mail death threats; Update: Track record?

posted at 9:35 am on April 1, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Charges have been filed in an investigation of e-mailed death threats to Republican state Senators last month during the budget-repair debate — but oddly, no arrest has taken place. Prosecutors filed two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts against 26-year-old Katherine Windels of Cross Plains, Wisconsin, but only after the Wisconsin Department of Justice sent the district attorney a sharply-worded memo of its own, wondering why prosecutors hadn’t done anything with the referral. It turns out that the woman who sent death threats to sixteen Senators and their families and claimed to have already built the bombs to kill them had never been arrested despite admitting to the charges:

Investigators visited Windels at her home the next day. According to the complaint, she told them she had sent the emails, and did so because she was very angry about what the senators had done. She also said she didn’t intend to carry out the threats, and was not arrested.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed the charges Thursday. He says “it’s odd” law enforcement never took Windels into custody.

“The reality is, the person was not placed into custody, so at some point, law enforcement didn’t see the person as an imminent threat,” Ozanne said. “It’s not that the case was not serious or taken seriously by law enforcement or by this office.”

This morning, the Justice Department sent a letter to the media, saying it was concerned about the “lack of action” on the case by the D.A.’s office. The Justice Department had referred the case to Ozanne two weeks prior.

I’d say it demonstrates precisely that the case hadn’t been taken seriously by law enforcement or the prosecutors. Why would a terrorist suspect not be arrested in a felony case?  Do police really think that someone unstable enough to send death threats doesn’t represent a threat to her community, at least enough to book her? I wonder how her victims feel about that — and I wonder how the DA’s office and police department would handle Windels if she turned out to be a deranged Tea Party supporter rather than a deranged lefty.

Perhaps the letters were ambiguous enough to make police unsure of the case. You be the judge, but the “deranged lefty” description isn’t an exaggeration:

Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.

WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we’ve had enough. We feel that you and the people that support the dictator have to die. We have tried many other ways of dealing with your corruption but you have taken things too far and we will not stand for it any longer. So, this is how it’s going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it’s a matter of public records.

We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn’t leave it there. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the message to you since you are so “high” on Koch and have decided that you are now going to single handedly make this a dictatorship instead of a demorcratic process. So we have also built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent.

This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won’t tell you all of them because that’s just no fun. Since we know that you are not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it’s necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families and themselves then We Will “get rid of” (in which I mean kill) you.

The misspellings are all in the original, which brings us to the suspect herself. News reports identify her as Katherine Windels of Cross Plains, Wisconsin, but don’t say too much else about her. James Simpson’s piece linked above notes that Jim Hoft and Underground Conservative did a little digging and discovered a Katherine Windels of Cross Plains of the same age (26) who teaches children in pre-school and kindergarten. The picture in her MySpace and Peek profiles looks remarkably similar to the WKOW mugshot (from 2004) used in the story, and it would be a very strange coincidence indeed to find two women of the same exact name, age, and appearance in a town of less than 4,000 people.

Hopefully, Windels isn’t teaching English. More importantly, the parents of children at the school might want to know that someone unstable (and stupid) enough to send terrorist death threats to politicians from her home computer is being entrusted with the students.

Update: If police want to argue that Windels doesn’t pose a threat, a new report from WKOW suggests that she has a track record in potentially threatening behavior:

A Cross Plains woman charged with felony crimes for allegedly threatening state senators over the budget repair bill was investigated by Madison police officers last fall over text messages.

Police reports released to WKOW27 News show a Madison woman contacted police over concerning text messages from Katherine Windels. …

In the reports, an officer stated he tried to contact Windels,  but was unsuccessful,  and ultimately left a voice mail message telling her to cease any contact with Patterson.

Apparently Windels set up the e-mail account from which she sent the threats under Patterson’s name.  She sounds like a seriously disturbed individual, and police should be answering why they have yet to take her into custody.  They’d better hope Windels doesn’t attack someone before the courts deal with these charges.


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