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May 08, 2002
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Court Papers Say a Letter Tipped FBI

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) -- A letter Lucas Helder had sent to his father was key to identifying him as a suspect, according to papers filed with the criminal complaint Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

The letter received Monday referred to death and dying, contained several anti-government comments, and contained the phrase ``Mailboxes are exploding,'' Helder's father told the FBI.

The notes found with pipe bombs in rural mailboxes also began: ``Mailboxes are exploding.''

Later that evening, according to an FBI affidavit, Helder's father said his son's roommate in Menomonie, Wis., called and told him about possible bomb-making materials found under his bed.

On Tuesday, the FBI interviewed Helder's roommate and two other people:

Helder's roommate said he returned home May 2 to find a note Helder had left, saying he was going to Madison, Wis., for a weekend party and would call in sick to work. The roommate believed that was out of character.

On Saturday, the roommate checked the answering machine and there was a message from Helder saying he wouldn't be home that night or the following night.

The roommate told the FBI that Helder's father called a short time later. The father was disturbed by a note in which Helder said he thought his parents were strong enough to deal with his beliefs.

That night, Helder's roommate and two other people went into his room.

``One person found a white plastic shopping bag under the bed. The bag contained a large box of nails, a box of paperclips and two black plastic bottles that shotgun or gun powder and the words 'extremely flammable.' One of the bottles was heavy and one was light, as if it was close to empty,'' according to the FBI affidavit.

``They also found a blue plastic funnel and a receipt dated 04/17/02, 8:22 p.m., that detailed the purchase of 15 to 20 pipe casings or something similar, along with other items including paperclips,'' the affidavit said.

The affidavit said law enforcement records showed Helder was stopped for speeding at 12:17 a.m. Saturday near St. Edward, Neb., about 12 miles from Albion, Neb., where a pipe bomb was found later that day.

``When the law enforcement officer approached Helder, Helder stated 'I didn't mean to hurt anybody' or words to that effect,'' the affidavit said.

Helder was stopped about 2 p.m. that day near Watonga, Oklahoma, for failure to wear a seatbelt. He was cited for an expired driver's license.

On Sunday at 2:53 p.m., he was stopped for speeding in Fowler, Colo.

``The trooper advised the driver appeared to be very nervous and had very watery eyes like he was going to cry,'' the affidavit said.

A note left with a pipe bomb in Scotia, Neb., was sent to an FBI lab and compared with the letter sent to Helder's family. A document examiner concluded they had similar characteristics.

The FBI also obtained records of Helder's credit card activity through subpoena and talked with friends Helder had contacted by phone.

The concludes there is probable cause to charge Helder with planting the pipe bomb that injured Delores Werling, 70, of Tipton.

Werling and her husband had checked their mailbox on the way home. They were still in the car when she reached into the mailbox to remove an object she described as a tube with strings protruding from it.

When it exploded, Werling was injured in the face, arms and hands. A tooth was knocked out and her eardrums were ruptured.

Werling was one of six people injured when pipe bombs exploded Friday in Iowa and Illinois. Additional pipe bombs found in Nebraska, Colorado and Texas did not go off.

Helder also was charged with damaging property used in interstate commerce _ the mailbox.

Federal charges also were filed Wednesday in Illinois _ the same two charges as in Iowa; and in Nebraska _ where he was charged with interstate transportation of explosives. He was expected to be taken to Cedar Rapids to face those charges first, authorities said.

Bob Teig, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Cedar Rapids, said he didn't know how soon Helder would be brought to Iowa to face charges.






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