A Florida woman is behind bars after federal investigators believe she threatened to kill Orlando Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy.
Elizabeth Schneider, 52, remains locked up while she awaits trial. She allegedly made than 100 threatening phone calls made over several months.
Schneider left three voicemails at the lawmaker’s Washington office on September 5, according to a criminal complaint filed in Orlando federal court.
In the third message, left at 5:46 p.m., Schneider declared she was making a “direct threat” against the congresswoman eight times, the complaint shows.
“I am going to kill her with a sword — a sword. I need the FBI at my house,” she said, records allege. “I have a sword and I’m going to kill her.”
Because the message was left on the first day of the three-day Labor Day weekend, the congresswoman’s staffers didn’t get it until September 8.
Authorities traced the call to Schneider.
The criminal complaint covers Schneider’s voicemails from July 3 to September 5, but agents documented calls between February and April as well.
In May, Orlando police officers visited her to check on her well-being and mental status.
“Based on their assessment, Schneider appeared to be in good physical and mental health and it appeared that she did not meet the required criteria for involuntary mental health services,” the criminal complaint said. They asked her about the harassing calls to the congresswoman’s office. She dropped her head and said that she was very sorry for making the calls and using profanity.
She said she would never harm anyone, including the congresswoman. According to the complaint, Schneider admitted to a lifelong struggle with alcohol, acknowledged making calls after blacking out and pledged to never call again. Officers warned her she could face charges if she did.
The next day, May 12, she left 48 voicemails for the congresswoman, the complaint alleges.
After she made more calls in July, two FBI officers interviewed Schneider at her home.
She said she suffers from bipolar disorder and sometimes makes calls when she is not on her medication. She claimed she never threatened the lawmaker. But she acknowledged using profanity, noting “that is not a crime.”
Then she abruptly ended the interview. She left an offensive voicemail for the lawmaker the next day, records allege.
In her first voicemail on September 5, she said: “Guess what, I am coming to your house to kill you today. That’s right, I’m gonna come to your house and kill you. I figured out MapQuest.”
The criminal complaint was filed September 10. The next day, in an Orlando courtroom, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie R. Hoffman presided over a detention hearing requested by Schneider.
Hoffman determined Schneider should be held until her trial. A federal public defender was appointed to represent her.