In a true case of “can’t judge a book by its cover,” the FBI believes it has tracked down the person responsible for sending threatening letters to Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak in the wake of his healthcare reform vote. And by all accounts from those who know the alleged harasser, he’s just a “nice gentleman.”
From the Detroit Free Press:
A 73-year-old northern Michigan man known and respected in his community and described as “a pretty decent guy” by one of his acquaintances is accused of writing a letter threatening to paint the Mackinac Bridge red with a congressman and his family’s blood because of his vote for health care reform.
Russell Hesch of West Branch, who identified himself as a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was arrested along with his son, a Colorado resident. The two were charged last week in a federal criminal complaint with sending a threatening letter to U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, a Menominee Democrat. Stupak was widely vilified by abortion opponents after he agreed to support health care reform in March.
“Actions and decisions carry consequences,” said the letter signed, “The Devil Within Us.” FBI agents traced the letter to Hesch with the congressman’s help.
Friends and neighbors call Hesch, a “very respectable man,” “a pretty nice guy,” and “nice gentleman.” Active in causes such as Michigan Right to Life, he was seen as opinionated and “a little hard headed,” but always civil.
Hesch wrote these words in the letter sent to Stupak.
Signed “The Devil Within Us,” the letter mentioned the congressman’s family by first names and went on to threaten that he would “paint the Mackinaw (sic) Bridge with the blood of you and your family members.”
It said the only way Stupak could stop the threat was to resign with an admission that his decision on the health care legislation was wrong or, “if that seems to (sic) unimaginable,” to follow in the “footsteps” of Stupak’s son who committed suicide years ago.
The letter writer concluded: “I have the knowledge, the means, the resources and the commitment, that you have propagated, to fully execute this plan. I am also willing to sacrifice my liberties and freedoms to this end.”
If convicted, Hesch could spend up to five years in prison.