Wichita Falls Man Charged in Federal Complaint with Making Threats to Blow Up Federal Courthouses
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 28, 2013|
DALLAS—Christopher Stephens, 34, appeared in federal court today in Wichita Falls, Texas, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert K. Roach on a criminal complaint related to several threats he allegedly made to blow up federal buildings in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. Stephens, who resided at the North Texas State Hospital (NTSH) in Wichita Falls, was ordered detained, pending a probable cause and detention hearing that will be set at a later date and held before U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. Horan in federal court in Dallas.
According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, the Wichita Falls Police Department’s (WFPD) communications center received telephone calls, one on March 5, 2013, and one the following day, from a caller who identified himself as “Gerald Adams.” In those calls, the caller threatened to blow up the U.S. Courthouse in Dallas. During the second phone call, the communications operator asked the caller if he was located at the NTSH, and the caller said that he was.
Law enforcement contacted an individual with a similar name who resided at the NTSH; however, it was determined that this individual was not the one who made the telephonic bomb threats. This individual stated that he believed the caller was another resident of NTSH, Christopher Stephens. He explained that Stephens became fascinated with his ex-wife, who had visited on several occasions and that Stephens had alluded to making contact with her upon his release. The individual believed that Stephens used his name to sabotage his release date.
On March 7, 2013, the WFPD’s communication center received a third bomb threat. During that call, Stephens advised that a bomb had been planted at the U.S. Courthouse in Fort Worth. The operator kept Stephens on the line long enough for WFPD officers to go to NTSH and observe Stephens on the phone speaking with the WFPD. Stephens did not deny making the bomb threat.
NTSH provided the officers with letters from Stephens. One letter was addressed to a WFPD officer and one was addressed to the FBI. Both letters provided a detailed description of how Stephens would blow up a federal courthouse, what materials he would use to make the bomb and how it would detonate. Stephens also wrote racial comments in the letter and included Nazi SS symbols.
On March 25, 2013, the FBI Dallas Field Division received a letter, via the U.S. Postal Service, signed by Stephens. That letter read, “I will blow up the Federal Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas.” On April 3, 2013, the WFPD received a mailed bomb threat from Stephens that mirrored the one sent earlier to the FBI, with the exception that the letter depicted three Nazi Swastikas and the words “White Power.”
A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The U.S. Attorney’s office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment. Stephens is charged with one count of using to the mail to willfully make a threat to unlawfully damage or destroy a federal courthouse by means of an explosive. That offense as charged carries a maximum statutory penalty 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, per count.
The matter is being investigated by the FBI and the WFPD. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Pfeifle and Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Tromblay are prosecuting.