Psych Exam Ordered for Man Making Assassination Threats
On Monday, a federal judge in Charlottesville ordered a psychological exam for the man accused of threatening to kill the president.
The suspect, 39-year-old Christopher R. Hecker, was arrested last week in Waynesboro, where he allegedly used a public library terminal to email a series of threats.
Appalachian Trail hikers routinely stop in Waynesboro to use the library in order to send emails. But in this case, many of the messages were threats to murder the president, and wild claims to have placed a series of bombs - from a trail shelter to the site of the World Trade Center.
May 2, Waynesboro police found themselves in a rare joint investigation with federal agents.
Captain Kelly Walker with Waynesboro police said, "We were notified earlier in the day by the U.S. Secret Service that there was an individual that they were investigating for possible threats."
There were email threats to murder President Obama, to bomb the White House, to bomb Philadelphia City Hall, even the set of a CNN broadcast. All of those threats, with some political railing, allegedly came in the last few weeks from Hecker.
Prosecutors say he last lived in Pennsylvania, but made his way along the Appalachian Trail to Waynesboro about a week before his arrest. One of his emails said he was staying at a park near the YMCA - apparently Loth Springs, a popular spot for hikers.
"I think some of the other officers had seen him in the area prior to this particular date," stated Walker. "But he hadn't aroused any suspicion."
Just hours after the call from the Secret Service, police found Hecker. He was sitting along Wayne Avenue near the Waynesboro Public Library, where he'd allegedly logged some time on a public computer.
Walker said, "At least some of the email messaging and correspondence that he made was from the library."
During his first appearance in federal court on Friday, Hecker said he wishes to plead no contest and wants the death penalty "as soon as possible."
Monday's order from the federal judge gives prosecutors 45 days to get an exam of Hecker. Specifically the judge wants to know if he's mentally competent to stand trial.
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