Feds: A Mental-Hospital Patient Kept Threatening to Blow Up Courthouses to Get With a Fellow Patient's Ex

Categories: Crime, News

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The state mental facility in Wichita Falls.
On March 5, the Wichita Falls Police Department took a call from a man who threatened to blow up the federal courthouse in Dallas. Why he was relaying this information to Wichita Falls police, or why he thought it wise to inform law enforcement of his plans, wasn't clear. But the man took great pains to stress that he really hated America and that his name was Gerald Adams. For good measure, he called back later the same day and again threatened to blow up a federal courthouse.

It wasn't terribly difficult for the FBI to trace the calls to the North Texas State Hospital, an inpatient mental facility in Wichita Falls, or to figure out that Gerald Adams, who was a patient at the facility, was not the one who had made the call.

Their suspicions fell instead on another patient, 33-year-old Christopher Stephens. Adams told agents that Stephens was obsessed with Adams' ex-wife and alluded frequently to making contact with her after being released from the hospital. Adams suspected that his fellow patient had made the calls in hopes of sabotaging his release date.

Adams' claims were supported by the fact that Stephens' voice bore an uncanny resemblance to the one making the bomb threats and that he freaked out when agents showed up for a chat, demanding to be read his Miranda rights and, when told he wasn't under arrest, demanding to be taken into custody.

The next day, Wichita Falls PD received a third bomb threat, this one to blow up the federal courthouse in Fort Worth. The 911 operator kept the caller on the line long enough for police to show up at the hospital and listen to Stephens make the threats in person. He didn't admit that he'd been making the threats, but he didn't deny it either.

A fourth threat was mailed to the FBI's Dallas office on March 25. A fifth was received on April 3 by Wichita Falls police. That time, the letter included swastikas and the words "White Power." These matched up neatly with a similar letter from Stephens that hospital officials intercepted and showed to FBI agents.

Stephens is now charged in federal court with threatening to blow up a federal courthouse. The offense carries a maximum 10 years and prison and $250,000 fine, although making threats from inside a mental health facility seems like a decent starting point for an insanity plea.

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