A New York man was arrested and charged with threatening the lives of 2 national TV personalities. Authorities arrested David Lee Simpson, 48, of Bath, N.Y., and transported him to Phoenix where he was booked into jail Wednesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Simpson was reportedly upset with HLN hosts Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell over their news coverage of the Jodi Arias murder trial.
Simpson told detectives he was in love with the convicted murderer and he wanted to spend his life with her. He said he was headed to Atlanta to kill Grace, a former prosecutor who focused her news coverage on Arias’ guilt.
According to a probable cause statement obtained by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Simpson wrote tweets on June 11 claiming he was responsible for the killing of Arias’ boyfriend.
He also took to Twitter.com to threaten Grace and Velez-Mitchell, both employees of Turner Broadcasting’s HLN network. The online threats took on a more ominous tone on July 12. Simpson tweeted Velez-Mitchell stating, “I will be waiting for you and Nancy” when Arias’ retrial begins.
Simpson indicated he was in Arizona and threatened to tie Nancy Grace to a tree and slit her throat. But police discovered he was in New York at the time.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office investigators tracked the Twitter account to Simpson and flew to New York to interview him June 25. But he wasn’t arrested, and the threats continued. “Can’t wait see you in Arizona I’m excited,” he wrote in a tweet to Grace.
Two days later, according to the AJC, authorities in New York took Simpson into custody after Simpson’s co-worker reported he had a gun and was threatening to kill Grace.
“He said he (Simpson) was throwing stuff out, loading up the car, and he’s got a gun,” police investigator Heather Barry said Thursday. “I flew over there before he left town and grabbed him. It was getting crazy.”
According to the AJC, Maricopa County authorities searched a travel camper and car belonging to Simpson. They found a cache of weapons including two guns, several knives, shotgun ammunition, and receipts for purchases of two shotguns and a rifle.
Police also recovered a pair of handcuffs, binoculars and a police scanner from Simpson’s vehicle.
Arizona has jurisdiction because the Twitter threats were against “individuals for conduct that was occurring” in the state. Both Grace and Velez-Mitchell were in Arizona at various times to cover the nearly five month trial.
Turner Broadcasting officials increased security at its offices in Atlanta, where Grace is based, and in New York where Velez-Mitchell is based. TBN officials told authorities that both TV personalities were concerned for their safety.
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