UPDATE, December 16, 2011: Woman placed in first-offenders program for bomb threat to GOP state senators
A Cross Plains woman who emailed death threats to 15 Republican state senators pleaded guilty Thursday to making a bomb threat and was placed in a first-offenders program.
Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese said that although the threats made by Katherine Windels, 27, were serious, she has no prior criminal record and had mental health issues that affected her actions.
According to letters written by mental health treatment providers, Windels suffers from anxiety and depression and had been largely housebound for a period including March 9, when she sent the emails to the GOP senators, upset over their support for legislation stripping most collective bargaining rights from most Wisconsin public workers.
"I am convinced that she never intended to truly threaten or disturb anyone," wrote Jennifer Branks, co-executive director of SOAR Case Management, which is involved in Windels' treatment.
Genovese did not enter judgment on Windels' plea and would formally find her guilty and sentence her only if she fails to get through the first-offenders program run by the Dane County District Attorney's Office.
If Windels gets through the program, the bomb threat charge would be dismissed and her record would remain clean.
This is justice? I don't think so.
UPDATE, April 21, 2011: Woman charged in lawmaker threats can't be on Capitol grounds
Katherine Windels, 26, charged with sending threatening emails to 16 Republican senators cannot be on the State Capitol grounds.
On Thursday morning Windels made a court appearance where a judge released her on a signature bond. Conditions include she cannot possess a weapon, no computer use except for work, school and looking for work, as well as being on Capitol grounds.
She waived her preliminary hearing. Her next court appearance is May 16.
Windels, of Cross Plains, faces four charges including using a computer to send a threat and creating a bomb scare.
Two of the counts are felonies, two are misdemeanors.
...If convicted on all counts, she could face up to 7.5 years in prison.
UPDATE, April 1, 2011: Investigators look into additional threats allegedly emailed by Cross Plains woman
Investigators on Friday looked into an additional violent threat by email — this one against Gov. Scott Walker — allegedly sent by the same Cross Plains child care provider already charged with emailing death threats to Republican state senators.
The threat against Walker, emailed Feb. 17, uses language including "watch your back Adolf Walker" and "we will not hesitate to punch where it hurts." It says it's from Katherine Windels.
Journalists discovered it as part of a review of thousands of emails sent to Walker's state account in response to his controversial budget repair bill. The Department of Justice was informed of the email — it apparently had gone unnoticed amid the electronic avalanche — and was investigating to verify its source, said spokesman Bill Cosh.
...News of the charges brought shock Friday to people who know the Windels family.
"You can't find finer people than those two," Pastor Rick Lund of St. Martin's Lutheran Church said of Bill and Karen Windels, Katherine Windels' parents. Her father is a mental-health nurse and her mother is a teacher, he said; both volunteer extensively at the church.
Of their daughter, Lund said: "Katherine is a good-hearted, bright young lady," while acknowledging that she "has had some struggles."
No one answered the door at the family's two-story yellow house at the end of a cul-de-sac in Cross Plains on Friday. Phone calls went unanswered.
Neighbor Kyle Roessler said the family moved into the new subdivision about four or five years ago and that their daughter always lived with her parents. He described the family as "really close," spending a lot of time in their garden in the warmer months and maintaining a cordial, if somewhat distant, relationship with neighbors.
An online profile lists Windels as a 2010 graduate of Madison Area Technical College with an associate's degree in early childhood education who's held multiple jobs as a home-care provider and teacher of young children.
At one of the jobs, Windels worked as a teacher's helper from 2007 to 2009 for an after-school program at St. Martin's called Jesus and Me. She left that job due to health problems that required surgery, said program director Virginia Diebold, but appeared healthy and happy the last time she saw her last Easter.
Notice that the language of the threat e-mailed to Governor Walker, "watch your back Adolf Walker" and "we will not hesitate to punch where it hurts," is typical of the stuff we saw and heard from the protesters in Madison when the Capitol was under siege.
Katherine Windels, 26, is an early childhood teacher and a thug.
When protesters in Madison occupied the Capitol, they chanted, "This is what democracy looks like."
Here is what hate, violence, and thuggery looks like.
This is an ugly, ugly woman.
Photo of Katherine Windels:
PeekYou profile photo
Read her PeekYou profile.
She has an interest in psychology. What? No interest in criminology?
Finally, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne got around to charging Windels for crimes she confessed to more than two weeks ago.
Ozanne had come under fire for failing to act on the case.
Did Ozanne think we were just going to forget about the horrific threats that Windels made?
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A 26-year-old woman was charged Thursday with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts for allegedly making email threats against Wisconsin lawmakers during the height of the battle over Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.
Katherine R. Windels of Cross Plains was named in a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Criminal Court.
According to the criminal complaint, Windels allegedly sent an email threat to State Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) March 9. Later that evening, she allegedly sent another email to 15 Republican legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).
The subject line of the second email was: "Atten: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!" In that email, she purportedly wrote, "Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks."
"I hope you have a good time in hell," she allegedly wrote in the lengthy email in which she purportedly listed scenarios in which the legislators and their families would die, including bombings and by "putting a nice little bullet in your head."
According to the criminal complaint, Windels told investigators “I sent out emails that I was
disgusted and very upset by what they were doing.”
Asked if she intended to follow through on any of her threats, Windels told the investigators "No," according to the complaint.
Windels was charged with two felony counts "bomb scare" and two misdemeanor counts of "computer message-threatening injury/bodily harm." If convicted, each felony count carries a maximum penalty of three years and six months in prison and a $10,000 fine, and each misdemeanor count carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine.
This woman is dangerous. She is deranged. She confessed to being a criminal.
She's also incredibly stupid. Did she really think that an e-mail death threat couldn't be traced? Did she really think that she was anonymous?
According to the criminal complaint, Windels sent the threats from a Gmail account, user name "Lisa Patterson" with an e-mail account address of firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IP address from which the aforementioned e-mails were sent belonged to Karen and William Windels, who reside...in the village of Cross Plains, Dane County, Wisconsin.
...[During an interview with police at her home,] Windels confirmed that the email account email@example.com belonged to her and Windels stated that she was the only one that used the account.
[Special Agent] Tijerino reports at 5:41 p.m., he received information from [Special Agent] King that the subscriber for email account: firstname.lastname@example.org had a secondary email account: email@example.com.
Windels had been investigated by police last fall for harassing Lisa Patterson.
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.
Dane County district attorney Ismael Ozanne Thursday charged Windels for allegedly sending e-mails to all nineteen republican state senators, threatening to kill them over their actions on proposed public employee collective bargaining revisions. A criminal complaint states Windels set up an email address under the name of acquaintance Lisa Patterson and used that address to deliver the email threats.
Madison police reports show Patterson told police on Oct. 14, 2010 she had received text messages from Windels and wanted follow up from officers.
Madison police’s records custodian redacted all reference to the content of the text messages in reports released to WKOW27 News.
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.
That's a weird twist.
Is Windels out to harm Lisa Patterson?
The same day the Department of Justice released a letter critical of the prosecution of a woman suspected of sending threatening emails to Republican Senators, the Dane County District Attorney's Office released a criminal complaint, detailing four charges against Katherine Windels of Cross Plains.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne really is a partisan hack. It's a disgrace that it took pressure for Ozanne to charge Windels. His failure to act quickly on the matter was a dereliction of duty, a disgrace.
Read the full criminal complaint.
More, from WKOW:
According to the complaint, Windels told the senators "you will be killed and your familes [sic] will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks." She threatened to "put a nice little bullet in your head," and made reference to several bombs.
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 law enforcement didn't see her as an imminent threat," Ozanne said. "It's not that the case was not 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.
Ozanne says his office filed charges in an appropriate amount of time.
"The file was reviewed as quickly as possible," he said.
He declined to comment on whether the letter could be the result of mounting tensions between his office, and the Justice Department. The two are pitted against each other in the lawsuit against the Governor's budget repair bill.
Windels is not in custody. The D.A.'s office says she won't be arrested.
The 26-year-old is expected to be served Friday and make her first court appearance in late April.
Windels is a flight risk. I don't know why she's not in custody. We know how opponents of Scott Walker, Republicans, and Wisconsin taxpayers act when they don't get what they want.
They run away. They head for the border. They go to a supposedly undisclosed location and do interviews on MSNBC.
Katherine Windels should not be teaching children. She should never have been a teacher. She's demented and not fit to be entrusted with children. Windels should not serve in the role of educator.
Her career as a teacher should be over.
Katherine Windels' actions are violent and disgusting and inexcusable.
Congratulations, Katherine! You're just 26 years old and you've achieved a lot. Everyone knows your name and your face. You've enlightened us about the sort of person you are. You've admitted to being a criminal.
Video from WISN, via Breitbart: