By Ciara O’Rourke, Austin American-Statesman –
AUSTIN, Texas — While Brittany Henderson remains in jail after authorities accused her of threatening to bomb Texas State University last month, federal officials say a man she has dated is the real culprit.
According to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, Dereon Tayronne Kelley of Bryan, Texas, used Henderson’s email account through his phone to send bomb threats to a university employee.
Thirteen minutes before he sent the first threat on Oct. 18, he texted Henderson an apology, officials said.
“I am trippin hard baby,” he wrote to the former Texas State student, officials said. “I got pissd off now i gotta deal with it.” He told her he loved her, and then an email was sent to a university admissions counselor from Henderson’s Yahoo account that threatened to blow up the university “to small pieces,” officials said.
The university evacuated the admissions building and neighboring residence halls. The area was searched, but no explosives were found.
Two more threats were sent that night and early the next morning accusing the admissions counselor of calling the police and again warning that the university would be bombed.
“I hate texas state for life,” the third email said.
Henderson was arrested five days later, and as of Friday, she was still in custody at the Hays County Jail on three charges of making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony, and three charges of making a false alarm, a misdemeanor. Her bail is set at $40,500.
But S. Mark McIntyre, an assistant U.S. attorney, said he thinks Kelley acted alone.
“The forensic evidence is pretty clear that the threats came from his phone,” he said.
The criminal complaint details how investigators tied the bomb threats to Kelley’s cellphone. The document also includes nine text messages that investigators say Kelley admitted sending.
In one he tells Henderson he logged on to her email. In another, he asks her to answer her phone.
“I need to tell you something you gone hate me for it but hey,” he says.
Kelley, 22, faces up to 10 years in prison on a federal felony charge in connection with the incident, McIntyre said.
Local authorities have also charged him with making a false bomb threat at Texas A&M University the day after Texas State was threatened. That email, also sent from Henderson’s account, said, “Campus will be bombed at twelve this afternoon,” according to the complaint.
McIntyre said Kelley is not facing federal charges in connection with that incident because charges were already filed against him in state court.
Kelley will remain at a federal detention center in Houston pending trial, he said.
Henderson, 19, has denied any involvement in either threat, according to the criminal complaint.
Daniel Benitez, captain of operations for the Texas State University Police Department, said Friday that he didn’t know about the federal charge against Kelley.
Asked whether charges against Henderson will be dropped, Benitez said, “Right now, nothing has changed.” John Quinn, Henderson’s lawyer, said Henderson didn’t know Kelley was going to send the threats.
“Hopefully in the next couple of weeks the powers that be will realize, ‘Gee, maybe we made a mistake,’” Quinn said.