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SWAT team finds Aussie suspected in collar bomb hoax tucked in quiet La Grange subdivision

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

Federal agents arrested a 50-year-old Australian man in a quiet Oldham County neighborhood Monday in connection with a collar bomb hoax earlier this month in Sydney, Australia involving an 18-year-old girl.

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Shortly before 4 p.m. Monday, federal agents arrived in Heather Green subdivision in Buckner to apprehend Paul D. “Doug” Peters, an Australian citizen who frequently travels between the U.S. and Australia for work.

Police believe he has been staying with his ex-wife, Debra Lee Hoffman-Peters, in her Heather Green home since Aug. 8.

As a special response team wearing fatigues stepped out of unfamiliar SUVs and a box truck in the 3000 block of Heather Green Boulevard, neighbors grew suspicious and contacted local police.

A spokesperson for Oldham County Police said upon arrival, officials confirmed they were federal agents in town to apprehend an Australian man.

The agents asked local police to remain at the scene during the arrest to put residents at ease.

According to police, the FBI arrested Peters swiftly and safely without incident.

After lengthy questioning by the FBI and Australian authorities, he arrived at the Oldham County Jail for booking around 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Peters’ arrest comes nearly two weeks after 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver was attacked in her home in a wealthy Sydney suburb.

Police say a masked man broke into her home in the middle of the day, chained a device that looked like a bomb to her neck and left a note of demands before he fled.

Pulver spent 10 hours chained to the device before bomb specialists freed her.The specialists later discovered the device did not contain explosives.

Within hours of Peters’ arrest, the Pulver family released a statement via the NSW Police Force expressing gratitude to Australian authorities and others overseas.

“On behalf of Maddie and the entire family, we are enormously relieved that an arrest has been made in the United States overnight,” Bill and Belinda Pulver wrote. “These past two weeks have been very difficult for us and we are hopeful that this development marks the beginning of the end of this traumatic ordeal for our family.”

The ordeal has been “a baffling and frightening experience” and the family is humbled by the selflessness and generosity of those wanting to help their daughter, the Pulvers wrote.

“From those we know well, to those we have never even met before, in Australia and overseas, we want to say a very heartfelt thank you,” they wrote.

The Pulvers describe their daughter as “a bright, happy young woman, who for reasons we still don’t understand, has had her life turned upside down going through this dreadful experience.”

Police are treating the case as an extortion attempt.

Pulver’s father, Bill, is the chief executive of a software company that specializes in voice recognition software.

According to court documents, Peters worked for the company in the past.

Australian authorities will ask a U.S. court to extradite Peters to Australia, although the extradition process could take months.

Peters appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin on Tuesday morning in Louisville and was represented by counsel.

An extradition hearing is scheduled at 1 p.m. Oct. 14 in Louisville. Peters is now in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and housed in the Oldham County Jail.

According to court documents, Peters is charged in Australia with kidnapping, aggravated breaking and entering with the intent to commit a serious offense, and demand property with intent to steal.
The 4,300-square-foot home in Buckner where federal agents located Peters is currently for sale and listed at $400,000. According to court documents, Doug and Debra Peters divorced in 2007 and have school-aged children.

Authorities say Peters came under heavy surveillance shortly after he arrived in the United States, although he wasn’t a suspect when he left Australia earlier this month. He flew from Sydney to Chicago to Louisville on Aug. 8.

The FBI tracked Peters after he allegedly sent e-mail from a public
computer.

E-mail us about this story at: editor@oldhamera.com.