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David Lee Simpson, 48, posted violent Twitter threats against the newscaster. Police say he was ready to carry them out.
A man arrested for Twitter threats against two news anchors might have been preparing to actually carry out the murders, according to authorities.
David Lee Simpson was allegedly furious with Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell, of Atlanta-based HLN, over their coverage of the Jodi Arias trial. Simpson, 48, apparently became obsessed with Arias, who was convicted in May of killing her boyfriend in Arizona in a case that received widespread media attention.
Simpson, of Bath, N.Y., allegedly posted Twitter threats starting in June to tie Grace and Velez-Mitchell to a tree naked and leave them all night before slitting their throats, the Corning Leader reported. He was also angry with a Phoenix woman who defended the two women over remarks about Arias, according to authorities.
Twitter death threats are frequently idle, but in this case it seemed Simpson planned to make good on his alleged pledges. He had quit his job and told his former employer he’d planned to leave town.
Simpson was arrested by a Bath police officer after a traffic stop. Police found several guns, ammunition, handcuffs, a police radio, zip-ties, binoculars, and a knife. They also discovered newspaper clippings related to the Newtown, Conn. mass shootings in December, among others.
“This suspect was on his way south with enough weapons in his car to do serious harm to someone,” said Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz. “Fortunately, we acted quickly enough, and in doing so, were able to stop him before anything could transpire.”
An Arizona grand jury indicted Simpson on three felony counts of computer tampering and two felony counts of stalking. He was transported to Maricopa County Tuesday.
The Arias trial was heavily scrutinized online. The convicted murderer reportedly tweeted insults toward Grace by proxy despite being behind bars. Domestic-violence expert witness Alyce LaViolette was harassed and received a slew of negative Amazon customer reviews for her book.
Photo via whatchutalkinbout/YouTube
Based in Montreal, Kris Holt has been writing about technology and web culture since 2010. He writes for Engadget and Tech News World, and his byline has also appeared in Paste, Salon, International Business Times, Mashable, and elsewhere.