US woman upset over mother's flight phones in bomb hoax

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 13, 2011 5:39 PM
US woman upset over mother's flight phones in bomb hoax

By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman concerned about her mother and brother flying on the eve of the anniversary of the September 11 attacks phoned in a bomb threat to an Arizona airport hoping to ground their flight, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Mary Purcell, 37, was arrested by FBI officers at her home in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, on Monday, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said. She was charged with making a false bomb threat and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Tucson Airport police received two calls on the morning of September 10 from a woman who said she had overheard her boyfriend and others talking about a threat to a Southwest Airlines flight to Albuquerque, New Mexico, according to a complaint unsealed in Brooklyn federal court.

Airport officials called in the bomb squad and informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The plane was searched with bomb-sniffing dogs but nothing was found and the flight left 15 minutes late.

The FBI traced the calls to a phone in Long Island, New York, registered to Margaret Meyer, who was scheduled to fly on the plane with her son, William Meyer.

Purcell, who was in the house at the time, initially told police she made the calls to ask why the flight was delayed, but later admitted to making the threat, according to a police statement.

It said she told police that she "did not want her mother and brother flying around the anniversary of the September 11 attacks."

(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by Daniel Trotta and David Storey)