(Reuters) - A Houston-area woman has been charged with mailing booby-trapped packages designed to explode to former U.S. President Barack Obama, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and a federal office in Maryland.
Julia Poff, 46, was ordered held in jail last week ahead of trial after she was indicted on charges of mailing packages last year that were designed to kill, transporting explosives and other criminal counts, court documents showed.
“Poff presents a real safety risk to witnesses and others in the community,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy wrote in a five-page order outlining the case.
Poff, who was charged earlier this month and pleaded not guilty last week, reached out to the Houston Chronicle to defend herself, the newspaper reported on its website on Thursday.
Poff told the Chronicle that investigators had taken trash from her home. The trash was “used in some serious crimes that we did not commit and know nothing about,” she was quoted as saying.
It was not clear whom Poff was referring to as “we.”
An explosive-laden package mailed to Obama in October 2016, while he was still in office, contained hair that an FBI crime lab matched to one of Poff’s cats, the judge wrote in the detention order.
Poff is said to have expressed dislike for Obama, who is a Democrat, according to the order. Packages sent to Obama and the U.S. Social Security Administration in Maryland were both stopped in screening, according to Houston TV station KPRC.
In October 2016, Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, opened a third package that also was rigged to explode, but it failed to detonate.
The judge’s detention order said Poff was upset with Abbott because she believed that in his previous role as state attorney general, he played a part in her inability to receive support from her ex-husband.
It was unclear what type of support Poff might have sought. The state attorney general’s office has a division that handles requests for child support after a divorce or separation.
The packages sent to Obama, the Social Security Administration and Abbott contained pyrotechnic powder, and investigators found a large amount of fireworks at Poff’s home in Brookshire, west of Houston, the court order said.
Poff is represented by a public defender, who could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
She is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Jan. 2.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney