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Police investigate Australia 'collar bomb' suspect's links to teenage girl's family

According to court documents, Australia 'collar bomb' suspect Paul Peters – arrested in Kentucky Monday – once worked for a company with links to the father of Madeleine Pulver.

By Kathy MarksCorrespondent / August 17, 2011

Paul Peters, an Australian national, is seen in this US Department of Justice booking photograph released to Reuters on Aug. 16. Peters, wanted in Australia and accused of strapping a fake bomb to the neck of a teenage girl, appeared in US federal court on Tuesday, a first step toward extraditing him home to face charges.

US Department of Justice/Reuters


Sydney, Australia

The arrest in Kentucky this week of an Australian banker suspected of a fake bomb threat against a Australian teenager has been hailed as a breakthrough. But criminologists remain mystified by the case, which they describe as highly unusual in Australia.

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Paul Peters is a middle-aged Australian businessman suspected of being the masked intruder who broke into Madeleine Pulver’s family home two weeks ago and strapped what he claimed was a bomb to her neck.

Ms. Pulver endured a 10-hour ordeal, which made headlines around the world, before police were able to establish that the "collar bomb" device was a hoax.

An e-mail address on a note hung around Pulver’s neck led Australian police to Mr. Peters, who has lived in the United States and still travels there frequently. He was arrested by an FBI SWAT team at his former wife’s house outside Louisville, Ky., and now faces extradition to Australia.

Links to Pulver's father

According to documents filed in the US District Court in Louisville, where he appeared yesterday, Peters once worked for a company with links to Pulver’s father, Bill, a prosperous businessman. Australian police are still investigating those links, but allege that his motive was to extort money. The note said that details for delivering “a defined sum” would be sent once it had been read and acknowledged.

Australia has a history of extortion attempts, and the number of extortion or blackmail cases has doubled over the past eight years in the province of New South Wales, according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. But those that come to public attention most frequently concern threats to contaminate the products of food or pharmaceutical companies.

In 2005, for instance, stocks of Mars and Snickers chocolate bars were withdrawn from retailers’ shelves following a series of threatening letters to the manufacturers, Masterfoods.

Kidnapping and extortion rare in Australia


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