A North Texas woman faces charges for allegedly sending three separate explosive devices to then-President Barack Obama, Governor Greg Abbott, and the Social Security Administration in late 2016.
Federal court documents unsealed in November and testimony note that Julia Poff, 46, was partially identified as the alleged bomber thanks to her cat’s hair found stuck under the shipping label bound for President Obama in October 2016.
Though the White House never opened its package, residential aides for Governor Abbott did not suffer a detonation because they “did not open it as designed.” Inside, the deadly improvised explosive device was configured with a mobile phone, a cigarette package, and a salad dressing bottle cap. Similar bombs were allegedly sent to all three intended targets. Court records do not indicate the source(s) or makeup for the explosive portions.
The second break in the investigation reportedly came from the tobacco packages—Poff allegedly failed to remove the Texas tax stamps, leading police directly to the point of purchase. Combustible elements in the makeshift bombs matched items found in the woman’s residence. A third device was sent to Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin in Maryland, according to court filings.
Court records offer glimpses of motive for Poff’s alleged crimes.
The Associated Press reports that Poff was “angry with Abbott because she did not receive support from her ex-husband when Abbott served as Texas Attorney General.” The woman vaguely disliked the former president, federal sources told the court. Social Security benefits were also denied to Poff at the time.
Poff’s financial concerns are further explained in separate counts of the indictment. She stands accused of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) fraud, unlawfully accessing at least $5,000 in benefits from an EBT card. She must also answer for two counts of false claims for bankruptcy protection and perjury.
Poff is currently in federal custody in Houston as the trial proceeds into 2018. Her legal counsel, Ashley Kaper, tells local reporters that attempts to secure her pre-trial release were “unsuccessful.” Spokespeople for the recipients of the bombs remain mum as of this writing.
The alleged bomber holds previous state convictions for misdemeanor theft and felony fraud. She served probation for both crimes.
Court proceedings will continue in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.