Grand jury indicts Helder
Pine Island man accused of placing pipe bombs in 18 mailboxes
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted the 21-year-old college student accused of placing pipe bombs in five states, injuring six people.
Luke Helder of Pine Island is scheduled to be arraigned at 11 a.m. Friday in U.S. District Court.
Helder is accused of placing pipe bombs in 18 mailboxes in five states, including Iowa. Six detonated, injuring four letter carriers and two Iowa women between May 3 and 6.
The grand jury in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday returned an indictment charging Helder with two offenses. One is using an explosive to damage personal property, which resulted in injury to a person. The other count is using, carrying and possessing a pipe bomb during a federal crime of violence and the federal crime of destruction of a mailbox.
Helder is specifically charged with the bombing of a rural mailbox near Tipton on May 3.
Delores Werling, 70, received wounds to the face and arms when the bomb exploded as she opened her mailbox. She also suffered hearing loss.
The first count carries a penalty of seven to 40 years in prison. The second 30 years to life. If there are convictions on both counts, federal prosecutors said the sentences would be required to be served consecutively.
Helder also faces federal charges in Iowa's other U.S. District Court and in Illinois and Nebraska.
Also, Helder has been granted approval to serve subpoenas on three eastern Iowa television stations.
Jane Kelly, the public defender representing Helder, was granted approval in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids to obtain documents from news directors of KCRG and KGAN, both in Cedar Rapids, and KWWL in Waterloo.