CHICAGO John P. Tomkins, the machinist who was arrested April 25 and charged with mailing two pipe bombs and threatening letters to investment firms under the nickname The Bishop, provided clues to his identity through stock names, according to representatives of several federal agencies.
Kenneth Laag, inspector-in-charge of the Chicago division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said federal authorities used bomb and handwriting analysis and good old-fashioned detective work to narrow their search for a suspect who demanded that certain companies raise their stock prices, frequently to $6.66, or their employees would risk kidnapping or death.
Mr. Tomkins is charged with sending the bombs to American Century Investments, Kansas City, Mo., and Janus Capital Group, Denver. The packages containing the bombs included notes reading BANG!! YOURE DEAD. Janus forwarded the package to subadviser Perkins, Wolf, McDonnell & Co. in Chicago without opening it.
Its an art, not a science, Linda Thomsen, director of the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington, said of tracing Mr. Tomkins, who allegedly also sent a series of threatening letters to communications company 3Com Corp., Marlborough, Mass., and technology and entertainment company Navarre Corp., New Hope, Minn., starting almost two years before the explosive devices were sent earlier this year.
SEC officials combed through financial records, and they believe that Mr. Tomkins was the only individual investor who would have substantially benefited from a sudden surge in both companies stocks during the period the letters were sent, according to the criminal complaint against Mr. Tomkins.
Several of the letters sent to financial executives contained references to the Unabomber, who sent bombs to universities and airlines from the late 1970s through early 1990s, and Washington-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. One letter, sent to a Navarre executive in March 2006, threatened family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, adding, You will help, after all it is so easy to hurt somebody it is almost scary.
In the complaint, authorities also said one of the threatening letters to an investment company employee contained a picture of the employees house, taken from inside a car. Part of the cars interior was visible in the photo, and federal agents worked to identify the make and model of the car, which they later determined matched a 1993 Chevrolet Lumina registered to Mr. Tomkins, the complaint charged.
Federal agents also obtained sales records from a home improvement store showing someone purchased PVC caps, similar to those in the explosive devices, using a credit card in Mr. Tomkins name, according to the complaint.
Public defender Rose Lindsay, who represented Mr. Tomkins in U.S. District Court in Chicago last week, did not return a call for comment. Mr. Tomkins is charged with mailing a threatening communication with intent to extort and possession of an unregistered destructive device. The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and the second carries a maximum 10-year sentence. Late last week, Mr. Tomkins was being held without bail until a hearing scheduled for April 30.