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Wimauma woman accused of stashing 24 pipe bombs has history of mental illness

“I got angry," Michelle Louise Kolts told investigators. “I wasn’t going to hurt anybody.” A judge ordered her held without bail.
Two-dozen pipe bombs found in a Wimauma woman's bedroom contained potential projectiles including nails and screws, investigators said. [HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE  |  Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Two-dozen pipe bombs found in a Wimauma woman's bedroom contained potential projectiles including nails and screws, investigators said. [HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE | Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Published Oct. 8, 2019
Updated Oct. 8, 2019

TAMPA — Michelle Louise Kolts, the woman accused of assembling a cache of pipe bombs, knives, and other weapons in the bedroom of her parents’ Wimauma home, told sheriff’s deputies she has a history of mental illness and takes medication for schizophrenia, according to a Hillsborough sheriff’s report.

Questioned after her arrest last week, Kolts said she had trouble discerning right from wrong and claimed she had help assembling the devices from two men, the report stated. Investigators determined the men do not exist.

“I made a stupid decision,” she said. “I got angry. I wasn’t going to hurt anybody.”

Kolts, 27, was wearing handcuffs and a red jail uniform when she appeared Tuesday morning in a Tampa courtroom.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wesley Tibbals granted a prosecutor’s request to hold Kolts in jail until the case against her is resolved. A public defender had asked that she be committed to a secure mental health center.

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]

Kolts lived with her parents, Donald and Janice Kolts, on Jagged Cloud Drive in a new gated community east of Sun City Center.

The parents were cleaning her bedroom Thursday afternoon when they came across several books that deputies later described as “terrorist literature,” according to the report.

The books included material about serial killers, mass shooters, and terrorists like the Unabomber and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

RELATED STORY: Wimauma woman arrested for making two-dozen pipe bombs, deputies say

They also found toolboxes that held two-dozen pipe bombs containing screws and nails.

They phoned Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies, who summoned a bomb squad to secure the materials. The incident also drew a response from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Pipe bombs and terrorist literature were found in a Wimauma woman's bedroom, investigators said. [HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE | Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]

In all, investigators found two-dozen bombs, 23 knives, fuse material, pistol powder, a pair of hatchets, nunchucks, two pellet rifles, and six pellet pistols.

The sheriff’s report also mentions journals found in the home, but it does not detail their contents.

In court Tuesday, a judge heard testimony from Michael Wright, leader of the sheriff’s bomb squad, who explained the destructive power of the pipe bombs.

The screws or nails each contained, if detonated, would shoot out like bullets, injuring or killing as many as 10 people, Wright said.

Christopher Franck, an FBI agent who interviewed Kolts as her parents’ home was searched, testified that he asked her what she was going to do with the items.

“Her intent was to harm other people,” Franck said. “However, she did not state a specific target or plan of attack.”

In a news conference Friday, Sheriff Chad Chronister praised Kolts’ parents for doing the right thing by notifying law enforcement.

Michelle Kolts is escorted into a Tampa courtroom Tuesday morning. She was arrested last week after authorities said they found 24 pipe bombs and other weapons in her home. [Photo courtesy of WTVT Fox 13] [WTVT Fox 13]

Deputies found Kolts at Chadwell Supply, a Palm River-area business where she worked as a laborer.

Told that investigators wanted to ask her about items found in her bedroom, Kolts bowed her head and looked at the ground, according to the Sheriff’s Office report, saying she never meant to hurt anyone.

She was taken back to her family’s home, where investigators asked her about the explosives, whether there was imminent danger to law enforcement personnel or the public, and if anyone had helped her assemble the bombs.

Kolts said two men named “Samuel and Daniel” helped her build the bombs and determine possible targets, according to the Sheriff’s Office report. But when pressed, she could provide no last names or identifying information about the men.

Her parents told law enforcement that Kolts has struggled with mental health problems most of her life. She is diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to the sheriff’s report, and is prescribed medication for it. Her parents told sheriff’s deputies Kolts had been committed to a mental health facility five times.

A detective asked Kolts if she knew the difference between right and wrong. She said she did not know. The detective then asked her if there was a difference between video games and real life. She said they were the same.

Kolts acknowledged she suffers from mental illness, according to the report, and said she struggled with suicidal thoughts.

Asked about the weapons in her bedroom, Kolts said she needed them for protection and to stop someone named “L.T.” from hurting people, the report said.

Her manager at Chadwell Supply described Kolts as quick-tempered, and said she had trouble getting along with her co-workers, according to the report. Her behavior seemed to have become more erratic in the last few months.

Another co-worker told deputies that Kolts had referred to herself as “venom,” saying, “soon I’m going to unleash venom on lazy people."

Kolts has no criminal history, but deputies documented a prior investigation into Kolts in August 2018.

An online printing company had notified law enforcement about an order it received for items including photos of the killers who carried out the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, replicas of the T-shirts the killers wore, and an image of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Questioned at the time, Kolts expressed no desire to hurt anyone.

A deputy noted that she appeared to have a “nationalistic” ideology," and spoke in a “slow, deliberate manner suggesting her mental capacity was not equal to her chronological age.”

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