Woman Charged With Avenging Brother’s Murder Conviction With Mail Bomb
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ A dental hygienist has been arrested on charges of building and sending a mail bomb that killed the father of a key witness in her brother’s murder conviction.
Peggy Gustafson Barnett, 29, allegedly followed the design of her 20-year- old brother, Douglas Gustafson, in making the bomb and showed him pieces of it during jailhouse visits.
She was arrested Wednesday at her home. Three others - Gustafson himself, a brother of his, and Raymond D. Cheely Jr., who is serving time for the same murder as Gustafson - also were charged.
The bomb killed David Kerr and injured his wife last Sept. 17.
Kerr’s son, George, was the real target of the bomb, according to investigators. In November 1990, he was riding with his friends Gustafson and Cheely when Gustafson opened fire on another car that had just passed them on the highway, apparently because it had cut off their car. A teen-ager in the other car was killed with a shot to the head.
George Kerr was granted immunity from prosecution and testified against his friends. Gustafson is serving a 65-year term for murder. Cheely is serving a 60-year term for aiding Gustafson in the shooting.
Authorities saiad Gustafson’s brother Craig, the fourth man charged, was a fugitive and offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
All four face one count each of sending a bomb through the mails with intent to kill and using a bomb in the course of a violent crime. They could face life in prison.
Russel Mabry, a postal inspector, said in an affidavit that Cheely plotted with Douglas Gustafson during jailhouse church services. On the outside, Craig Gustafson helped his sister make the bomb and store it but later told an investigator, ″I honestly didn’t think she’d do it,″ Mabry said.
The bomb ripped a hole in the roof of the Kerr home and blew out a picture window. Neighbors said the concussion felt like an earthquake.