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No trial for 'Smiley face' bomber
The Australian ^ | 4/2//04

Posted on 04/01/2004 5:24:36 PM PST by mylife

No trial for 'Smiley face' bomber

From correspondents in Cedar Rapids, Iowa 02apr04

A FORMER college student accused of planting pipe bombs in a 'smiley face' pattern across the United States nearly two years ago was declared incompetent to stand trial by a Federal judge.

Luke Helder, 22, was ordered to return to the Federal Medical Centre in Minnesota, where he will undergo another round of psychological evaluation to determine if he is a risk to others. US District Judge Mark Bennett could free him if he is found not to be a significant risk.

Helder was caught after a nationwide manhunt in May 2002, when 18 pipe bombs and anti-government letters were placed in mailboxes in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas. Six pipe bombs exploded in Iowa and Illinois, injuring four letter carriers and two residents.

After his arrest outside Reno, Nevada, Helder told authorities that by scattering the bombs across the country, he was trying to draw a "smiley face" on the map.

Bennett found Helder incompetent based on three forensic reports prepared by government doctors. The reports have been sealed by Bennett, who did not elaborate on Helder's diagnosis.

Helder, in court for the first time since his June 2002 arraignment, turned and smiled at his parents several times before and after the hearing, but otherwise sat calmly through the proceedings. Helder's parents declined to comment afterward.

Helder, a former art student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menominee, Wisconsin, has pleaded innocent to federal charges of using a pipe bomb in a crime of violence and destroying property used in interstate commerce - mailboxes. The charges carry a life sentence.

In the months after Helder's arrest, his attorney, Jane Kelly, filed court papers declaring her intention to use an insanity defense.

If Helder is declared competent at some point, the federal charges remain and could be reinstated.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Iowa
KEYWORDS: baninsanitydefense
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1 posted on 04/01/2004 5:24:37 PM PST by mylife
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To: mylife
"When asked who he would vote for in the upcoming Presidential Election. He said "John Kerry of course!"
2 posted on 04/01/2004 5:31:17 PM PST by ConservativeMan55 (There is no problem so great that it cannot be solved with high powered explosives.)
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To: mylife
US District Judge Mark Bennett

I think the Judge should be required to take the perp in for a few years.
3 posted on 04/01/2004 5:31:49 PM PST by TheDon (John Kerry, self proclaimed war criminal, Democratic Presidential nominee)
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To: All

Donate Here By Secure Server
4 posted on 04/01/2004 5:32:16 PM PST by Support Free Republic (I'd rather be sleeping. Let's get this over with so I can go back to sleep!)
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To: mylife
But he was competent enough to draw a smiley face on a map of the United States and proceed to commit federal crimes across the country....Jesus, this is SO outrageous I can't believe it.
5 posted on 04/01/2004 5:32:19 PM PST by Sunshine55 (Bush-Cheney 2004....because Republican ends with I Can)
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To: mylife


6 posted on 04/01/2004 5:35:46 PM PST by kcvl
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To: mylife; OXENinFLA; lainie; cyborg
Is he a whack-job, absolutely.

Should he stand trial, absolutely.


7 posted on 04/01/2004 5:41:20 PM PST by StriperSniper (Ernest Strada Fanclub)
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To: okie01
Ping.
8 posted on 04/01/2004 5:47:18 PM PST by Shermy
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To: StriperSniper
Bizarre.
9 posted on 04/01/2004 5:48:37 PM PST by cyborg (Frankenfreude radio death watch has commenced)
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To: kcvl
Is that "manifesto" his? If so, there seems to be absolutely no reason why he shouldn't be tried and then have his cell key tossed, not his case. Disturbing.

10 posted on 04/01/2004 5:55:11 PM PST by AnnaZ (I hate Times New Roman... and it's all Mel Gibson's fault!)
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To: AnnaZ
Luke Helder's Manifesto

This is a copy of a bizarre six-page manifesto, of sorts, written by Luke Helder and sent last week to a college newspaper in Wisconsin. In the rambling letter, Helder, who has been charged in connection with the recent mailbox bombings, writes, "I'm taking very drastic measures in attempt to provide this information to you...I will die/change in the end for this, but that's ok, hahaha paradise awaits! I'm dismissing a few individuals from reality, to change all of you for the better, surely you can understand my logic." The letter, the first page of which is imprinted with the initials LH, was signed "Lucas Helder" and postmarked May 3 in Omaha, Nebraska. (6 pages)

11 posted on 04/01/2004 6:10:59 PM PST by kcvl
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To: StriperSniper
I had a psych teacher once whom I think had it right.

He said they should be tried, judged guilty or innocent, and THEN evaluated to see whether they should serve their sentence in a jail or a hospital for the mentally ill.

He said that perhaps in such cases it could be built into the system to take into account if a person was truly capable of recovering, or would be chronically ill, in which case once their sentence was finished they would be under supervision.
12 posted on 04/01/2004 6:17:15 PM PST by I still care (If Kerry was Pres in 1991, Saddam would be in Kuwait today, cutting off our oil)
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To: I still care
whom I think had it right.

Works for me.

13 posted on 04/01/2004 6:18:44 PM PST by StriperSniper (Ernest Strada Fanclub)
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To: kcvl
Nirvana.....Love.....Courtney Hole.....it all falls into place now.
14 posted on 04/01/2004 6:19:13 PM PST by ErnBatavia (Gay marriage is for suckers...)
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To: mylife
This guy should face the death penalty for terroristic activity.

He's no less or more crazy than the islamics running around iraq these days.
15 posted on 04/01/2004 6:20:42 PM PST by Monty22
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To: kcvl
Thank you!
 
From the article:
Luke Helder, 22, was ordered to return to the Federal Medical Centre in Minnesota, where he will undergo another round of psychological evaluation to determine if he is a risk to others. US District Judge Mark Bennett could free him if he is found not to be a significant risk.
The guy is obviously a risk, no? And his beliefs, as wacky as they are, are still dangerous. He has proven this to be true.
 
I firmly believe in an afterlife, in heaven. Can I get away with murder too?

16 posted on 04/01/2004 6:21:48 PM PST by AnnaZ (I hate Times New Roman... and it's all Mel Gibson's fault!)
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To: cyborg
He Thinks He's Cute

"His demeanor was very jovial. He didn't seem to be taking anything seriously at the time," the sheriff said.

Helder's parents held a tearful 30-minute meeting with their son at a jail in Reno Thursday as doubts about the accused mailbox bomber's mental stability continued to grow.

A family spokesman said Helder asked his mother during the meeting if she thought he might wind up in prison for the short-lived crime spree that left six people injured and rattled the nerves of countless rural residents in the Midwest and West.

"His mother has just been so worried," said Father Dennis Kamps of St. Michael's Church in Helder's hometown of Pine Island, Minn. "She said the first thing he said to her was, 'Do you think I'm going to jail for this?'"

"It has been very emotional and very difficult for them," Kamps added.

Helder was being held without bail at Washoe County Jail after appearing late Wednesday before a magistrate who declared that the youthful defendant standing before him in an orange prison jumpsuit "suffers from some apparent mental health problems."

Helder was arrested Tuesday along Interstate 80 in northern Nevada just hours after the FBI issued an all-points bulletin for the Minnesotan sought for the 18 pipe bombs in mailboxes along country roads in five states. He waited Thursday for federal marshals to transfer him to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he will face two charges in the May 3 blast that left a Tipton, Iowa woman hospitalized.

In all, six of the devices exploded, injuring four letter carriers and two people who had been picking up their daily mail.

Anti-government, anti-capitalism letters found with the devices led the FBI to treat the bombings as acts of domestic terrorism.

"We were here to see our son in his hour of need," said Helder's father, Cameron Helder.

"This will be a long process," he said. ""It has been very hard on us. Our heart goes out to the families" of the injured.

Helder appeared upbeat on Wednesday as he made his first court appearance. He grinned at reporters as he left Washoe County Jail on his way to the courthouse. But the gravity of his predicament reportedly has been sinking in.

"He was smiling and very cordial," said Washoe County Sheriff Dennis Balaam. "I think he understands that he is in trouble, but maybe not to the degree that he should."

17 posted on 04/01/2004 6:23:53 PM PST by kcvl
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To: mylife
.....another round of psychological evaluation to determine if he is a risk to others.

Duh! Of course he's a risk to others -- he proved it by his actions.

18 posted on 04/01/2004 6:23:54 PM PST by expatpat
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To: kcvl
Those parents seem a bit off. Why does these types always seem to have these oddball coddling parents?
19 posted on 04/01/2004 6:26:05 PM PST by cyborg (Frankenfreude radio death watch has commenced)
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To: cyborg
The same young man led police on a high-speed chase, held a gun to his own head and is now accused of carrying out a string of mailbox pipe-bomb attacks in five states that left six people injured.

But family and friends say they didn't see it coming. By most accounts, Helder was considered a quiet, average art student who studied industrial design. He had a passion for music and an apparently loving family. Before his arrest, FBI officials expressed concern for his well-being and urged him to turn himself in before he or anyone else was hurt.

"He has been described as an intelligent young man with strong family ties," Jim Bogner, the FBI agent in charge of Nebraska and Iowa operations, said at a news conference Tuesday hours before Helder's capture.

Still, some who know Helder say he'd been acting differently — and a member of his grunge-rock band, Apathy, saw his darker side.

"He seemed really obsessed about New Age religion and death and the fact that death really doesn't mean an end to existence," said Eric Heilscher, who played bass. "He wants to tell everyone about that. I can see this as a religious crusade almost."


A Father's Plea

Back at his home in Pine Island, Minn., Helder's father, Cameron, illustrated the shock and grief his son's alleged activities had caused. He said his son was not dangerous, but was disturbed with how the government was being run and felt that no one was listening to him.

"You need to call … you've got the attention you wanted. We want you home safe," Cameron Helder said in a public plea to his son. "Please don't hurt anyone else."

Helder did not seem like someone who would become so passionate over politics and government. The name of his band — he played guitar and sang — would hardly suggest politically driven music, and his biography on the Apathy Web site lists only two passions.

"I'm a huge Nirvana fan. I really am quite infatuated with this band. I know everything about Kurt … try me, hahaha," Helder wrote. "Well, the top things I care about are my girlfriend Sarah, and my music/band … I party, play guitar, and talk online to everyone. That's my life."

Agreeable, Personable

Friends and teachers at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wis., say Helder was unassuming, yet personable. This made his absence from campus during the past week and his alleged pipe-bomb spree all the more shocking.

Luke John Helder is shown in this photo, possibly from June 2000, as he performs with his band Apathy. (Apathy Web site)

"Well, it just made me sick to my stomach, because I couldn't believe that he would do something like this that would hurt other people," said Nancy Balum-Cummings, one of Helder's instructors. "[He was] enjoyable enough that you would look forward to going to class because you knew that he would be in there and you'd interact a little bit with him each day."

Nancy Bloom, who taught Helder design theory and methods last fall, also remembered him well.

"He was a B student, very laid-back, but he cared about the projects," Bloom said. "He was agreeable, got along well with adults and did not show aggression. This is all very surprising for me."

Fear of Copycats

Helder appeared to be smiling again today, as he was led away by federal authorities from his jail cell in Reno, Nev. Law enforcement sources believe Helder feels a bit of satisfaction because of the attention he has generated and the message he wanted to send.

"It's [the smile] almost a desire to be caught and then have the notoriety associated with these events which have occurred," said Peter Smerick, a former FBI profiler.

In a letter written to a Wisconsin newspaper May 3, Helder seemed to express a desire for attention using the same language found in the letters left with the pipe bombs. He expressed an animosity for the government and an obsession with death.

"From the letters, you get a sense of paranoia, perhaps some depression," said Gregg McCrary, another former FBI profiler. "[You get] some anger, a constricted view of his options: violence is the only way I have left to communicate. In well-publicized events like this, the publicity, the notoriety can be a triggering event for others who are similarly emotionally disturbed.

E-mail sent to his rock group Apathy's Web site indicates that Helder's exploits resonated with many people. One e-mail said, "You guys are da bomb, the mailbox that is." Another said, "[It] looks like we weren't the only ones who thought of this!"

Law enforcement officials hope Helder does not attract copycat pipe bombers.

Didn’t See It Coming

Meanwhile, friends of Helder are trying to make some sense out of his seemingly aberrant behavior.

"He seemed a lot more mellow than using pipe bombs on human beings," said Andy Heilscher, brother of Helder's bandmate, Eric. "I used to hang out with him all the time, and he doesn't seem like a psycho who'd do that."

One classmate who asked not to be identified indicated that Helder was always interesting to hang out with, but that he also wanted people to see things his way.

"I couldn't see how he could come to do something like this," the classmate said. "He always wanted you to see things in his light — I mean, he loved his music and he always blasted it in the halls and wanted you to see things through his eyes, I guess."

And now, instead of a future in industrial design, he is sitting in jail, facing up to life in prison if convicted.


THEY NEVER "SEE IT COMING"...

Maybe because they weren't looking.
20 posted on 04/01/2004 6:36:43 PM PST by kcvl
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