A Texas woman has been charged with mailing bombs to Governor Greg Abbott, Barack Obama, and the Social Security Administration in 2016. The trail of clues included an “obliterated” shipping label, and a cat hair.
Julia Poff, 46, is accused of sending homemade explosives through the mail, according to charging documents released this last week after a year long investigation. She is charged with mailing “injurious articles,” “transportation of explosives with intent to kill and injure,” “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program fraud” and “false declaration in bankruptcy.”
Mailings to Governor Abbott, Barack Obama, and the Soc Sec Administration
Her plan went awry when Governor Abbott didn’t open the package in the manner she thought he would, and the bomb didn’t go off. According to the affidavit, had he done it the way she planned, it would have caused “severe burns and death.”
According to NPR,
The federal agent assigned to the case testified that the package had an “obliterated shipping label” for an EBay order that was sent to Julia Poff, which led authorities to her address. They found a garage full of fireworks, and a number of pieces of evidence, including a salad dressing bottle cap in the explosive device that matched salad dressing witnesses say Poff had used for her anniversary dinner, and packaging for Pall Mall red cigarettes containing pyrotechnic powder, later found at her home.
The package sent to Obama also included a cat hair “microscopically consistent” with the hair of one of Poff’s cats.
The investigator described an 8x7x2-inch package was mailed to the governor’s mansion. The investigator testified there was a smaller box inside the larger box containing smokeless powder typically used for the reloading of ammunition, pyrotechnic powder used in fireworks and a hobby fuse. The investigator also testified there was a small plastic cap filled with a type of “lead shot” found in shotgun shells used for hunting.
The investigator testified the device sent to Abbott is called a victim actuated improvised explosive device.
“It means it’s booby-trapped. It means that the victim that opens the package has to take certain action for it to detonate,” he said during questioning by a federal prosecutor.
The package was addressed to Governor Abbott and he is the one who opened it. The other two packages were caught by screeners.
The court documents say that Poff was critical of both Obama and Governor Abbott, and Social Security benefits had been denied. A Grand Jury was convened, and as they were determining an indictment, she actively tried to learn the identity of witnesses and told her friends to keep silent. She was deemed a flight risk because of those efforts, and remains in custody until her trial in January.
In the end, Pall Mall red cigarettes, a shipping label, a USB cable box, debit card purchases, and a cat hair led investigators to her. Her home contained the elements of her homemade explosives – reloading equipment, fireworks, latex gloves. And don’t forget the cats.