National/World

Australian man arrested in Ky. in fake bomb case

Monday, August 15, 2011

A 50-year-old man was captured Monday at his ex-wife's Kentucky home and charged with breaking into an Australian home and chaining a fake bomb to a teenager's neck, the FBI said.

Paul "Doug" Peters was staying a Louisville, Ky., suburb when he was arrested by an FBI SWAT team, said Elizabeth A. Fries, special agent in charge of the FBI's Kentucky office.

He faces charges in Australia that include kidnapping and breaking and entering, said Luke Moore of the New South Wales Police located in Sydney. Moore flew to Louisville for the arrest, but would not go into detail about what led police to Peters.

"There was a range of pieces of evidence that led us to identify this suspect," he said at a news conference at FBI offices in Louisville.

The arrest comes nearly two weeks after 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver was attacked in her home in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Mosman as part of an alleged extortion attempt.

Peters is an Australian citizen but has lived in the U.S., including Kentucky. Peters' initial court appearance was set for Tuesday in Louisville and the extradition process will take about two months, Fries said.

The Pulvers were relieved to hear of the arrest. William Pulver described his daughter as "a bright, happy young woman who for reasons we still don't understand had her life turned upside down going through this dreadful experience."

"These past two weeks have been a very difficult time for us and we are hopeful that this development marks the beginning of the end of this traumatic ordeal for our family," William Pulver told reporters in Sydney, his wife Belinda at his side.

Peters' ex-wife was not at home at the time of the arrest, and there is no indication she is involved in the case, Moore said.

Her five-bedroom, two-story house, which is on the market for $400,000, is in a quiet, upper middle-class subdivision in La Grange, about 30 miles northeast of Louisville. As an FBI investigator combed through items on shelves in the neat three-car garage, neighbors who declined to identify themselves told The Associated Press that they didn't know Peterses and that they kept to themselves.

Madeleine Pulver was alone when a masked man broke into the house in the middle of the day, chained a device that looked like a bomb to her and left a note with demands before leaving.

Bomb technicians, negotiators and detectives rushed to the scene. Neighboring homes were evacuated, streets were closed and medical and fire crews waited nearby. Pulver spent 10 terrifying hours chained to the device before the bomb squad was able to free her. She was not hurt, and the device was later found to contain no explosives. Australia's prime minister said the event resembled "a Hollywood script."

Police say a note had been attached to the device, but they haven't released details of what it said.

Authorities are still investigating why the suspect targeted the young woman, Moore said. Peters had been involved in various businesses but authorities would not elaborate what they involved.

Police have said they're treating the case as an extortion attempt. The family lives in one of Sydney's ritziest areas and William Pulver is CEO of an information technology company.

"This has been a baffling and frightening experience. It has tested us all," he said.

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Associated Press writers Janet Cappiello and Elizabeth Campbell in Louisville and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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