Houston-Based Astronaut Arrested For Attempted Kidnapping - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/05/07 - Houston, Texas

Houston-Based Astronaut Arrested For Attempted Kidnapping

An astronaut was arrested Monday for attempting to kidnap a woman she believed was romantically involved with another astronaut she was in love with, police said.

U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak, 43, who flew in July on a space shuttle mission to the international space station, was charged with attempted kidnapping, attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery. She was denied bail.

Police said Nowak drove from her home in Houston to the Orlando International Airport to confront Colleen Shipman, who the astronaut believed was romantically involved with U.S. Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, a pilot during space shuttle Discovery's trip to the space station last December.

Nowak told police that her relationship with Oefelein was "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship," according to an arrest affidavit. Police officers recovered a love letter from her car.

NASA spokesman James Hartsfield in Houston said, as of Monday, Nowak's status with the astronaut corps remained unchanged.

"What will happen beyond that, I will not speculate," he said.

Hartsfield said he couldn't recall the last time an astronaut was arrested and said there were no rules against fraternizing among astronauts.

When she found out that Shipman was flying to Orlando from Houston, Nowak drove from Houston to the Orlando airport, wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop to urinate, according to the arrest affidavit.

Dressed in a wig and a trench coat, Nowak boarded an airport bus that Shipman took to her car in an airport parking lot. Shipman told police she noticed someone following her, hurried inside the car and locked the doors, according to the arrest affidavit.

Nowak rapped on the window, tried to open the car door and then asked for a ride. Shipman refused but rolled down the car window a few inches when Nowak started crying. Nowak then sprayed a chemical into Shipman's car, the affidavit said.

Shipman drove to the parking lot booth and the police were called.

During a check of the parking lot, an officer followed Nowak and watched her throw away a bag containing the wig and BB gun. They also found a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags inside a bag Nowak was carrying when she was arrested, authorities said.

Inside Nowak's vehicle, which was parked at a nearby motel, authorities uncovered a pepper spray package, an unused BB-gun cartridge, latex gloves and e-mails between Shipman and Oefelein. They also found a letter "that indicated how much Mrs. Nowak loved Mr. Oefelein," an opened package for a buck knife, Shipman's home address and hand written directions to the address, the arrest affidavit said.

Police said Nowak told them that she only wanted to scare Shipman into talking to her about her relationship with Oefelein and didn't want to harm her physically.

"If you were just going to talk to someone I don't know that you would need a wig, a trench coat, an air cartridge BB gun and pepper spray," said Sgt. Barbara Jones, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department. "It's just really a very sad case ... Now she ends up finding herself on the other side of the law with some very serious charges."

It was not immediately known if Nowak had an attorney.

According to NASA's official biography, Nowak is married with three children. During her 13-day mission in July she operated the robotic arm during three spacewalks.

Oefelein piloted the space shuttle Discovery in December. He has two children, according to a NASA biography.

Story courtesy of the Associated Press.

Powered by Frankly