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Wimauma woman arrested for making two dozen pipe bombs, deputies say

Michelle Louise Kolts, 27, faces charges of making a destructive device with the intent to do bodily harm or property damage.
This image was sent out by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office in a news release about the arrest of a Wimauma woman on charges of making pipe bombs. [HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE  |  Hillsborough Sheriff's Office]
This image was sent out by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office in a news release about the arrest of a Wimauma woman on charges of making pipe bombs. [HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE | Hillsborough Sheriff's Office]
Published Oct. 4, 2019
Updated Oct. 4, 2019

WIMAUMA — Her parents discovered the stockpile Michelle Louise Kolts had amassed and knew they had to call for help.

Stored in the 27-year-old woman’s bedroom at the family’s home was enough bomb-making material to harm or kill hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

Michelle Louise Kolts, 27, was arrested just after midnight Friday at her home in Wimauma. She is accused of making two dozen pipe bombs. [HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE | Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]

When deputies spoke to Kolts not long after the discovery Thursday, she admitted to making pipe bombs and said she planned to use them to hurt people, Chronister said.

“Who knows the amount of harm that could have been done or how many lives could have been lost had these parents not found the courage to call the Sheriff’s Office and seek help,” the sheriff said at a news conference Friday.

Kolts now faces 24 counts of making a destructive device with the intent to harm people. Each count is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Kolts’ parents called 911 shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday. Deputies who responded to the home in the 5000 block of Jagged Cloud Drive immediately recognized the bomb materials. They quickly took the parents from the home and asked for the Sheriff’s Office bomb team to respond, Chronister said.

"The amount of highly destructive materials we found in this home were astonishing," Chronister said.

Investigators found 24 pipe bombs, fuse material, pistol powder, 23 knives, two hatchets, nunchucks, two pellet rifles and six pellet pistols.

"What is even more frightening is that is that each pipe bomb contained nails, metallic pellets or a combination of both and would have taken less than 60 seconds per device to add the powder and fuse material she already possesses to detonate each bomb," Chronister said.

Investigators also found dozens of books and DVDs about murder, mass killing, domestic terrorism and bomb making, Chronister said. Among the books was the manifesto of Ted Kaczynski, the domestic terrorist known as the Unabomber.

Deputies located Kolts at her job and she agreed to return home, where she was arrested shortly after midnight.

Chronister said investigators have found no evidence that she had selected a specific target or developed a timetable for using the devices.

"Her statements were very generic in the fact that she just intended to hurt people," he said.

Chronister said deputies went to the Kolts home in August 2018 after a tip from an online printing company, suspicious that Kolts had ordered material on pipe bomb construction and anarchism, Chronister said.

"She became consumed by the Oklahoma and Columbine killings," he said.

At the time, Kolts said she didn’t intend to harm anyone and investigators concluded she was not a threat to herself or others. “Fast forward a year later, thank God these parents called us,” he said.

Kolts was being held Friday in lieu of $180,000 bail. She does not have any previous arrests in Florida.

Chronister said Kolts has no history of military service but both her parents do.

Kolts works in the warehouse at Chadwell Supply, a building maintenance and repair company, said Bryon Wheeldon, the company’s manager of employee relations and compliance in Tampa.

Wheeldon said he does not know Kolts personally. The company has over 1,000 employees.

“We’re all just thankful no one was hurt,” he said.

Staff writer Paul Guzzo and senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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