Father: Animal Rights Activist Held For Attempted Murder ‘Meant No Harm’
NORWALK, Conn. (AP) _ An animal rights activist accused of planting a pipe bomb that police said could have killed an executive whose company uses dogs in medical experiments ″meant no harm,″ her father said Saturday.
Neighbors of Fran Stephanie Trutt, 33, of New York City described her as strange and said she often talked with animals.
″Of course she’s innocent, she meant no harm,″ said Harry Trutt, the woman’s father, when contacted Saturday at his home in New Hyde Park.
He refused further comment, except to say his daughter hoped to select an attorney by Tuesday.
Her next-door neighbor, New York state Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette, said, ″She was a sort of strange person. If you had to draw a profile of someone who wasn’t quite right, she’d be it.″
Norwalk police arrested Ms. Trutt just after midnight Friday and planned to hold her through the weekend under $500,000 bond pending arraignment in Superior Court Monday on charges of attempted murder, possession of explosives and manufacturing a bomb.
Ms. Trutt is accused of planting a powerful, radio-controlled bomb in bushes at the Norwalk headquarters of U.S. Surgical Corp., near the parking space of company chairman Leon Hirsch. The bomb was wrapped with roofing nails, which would have acted as projectiles.
About 200 people were working in the plant overnight at the time of the incident.
A search of the woman’s basement apartment turned up three more homemade bombs fashioned from standard plumbing pipes, said New York City police Deputy Inspector Vincent Tarone.
Police said the bombs were made of large firecrackers, called M-80s, wrapped with nails and BB pellets and stuffed into pipes.
The devices ″certainly would have destroyed the entire building″ and damaged surrounding houses, Tarone said.
Several hundred residents near Ms. Trutt’s home in Queens were evacuated for several hours Friday afternoon while police searched the apartment.
Police also found a sawed-off shotgun, a homemade weapon described as a cross between a bazooka and a shotgun, and pictures of animal torture in her apartment.
Ms. Trutt also rents a garage in New York City where police found several emaciated dogs she apparently was trying to nurse back to health.
New York City police spokesman, Sgt. Norris Hollomon, said Ms. Trutt would face charges of criminal possession of a dangerous weapon and possibly other charges.
The FBI also was investigating the incident ″as a possible terrorist act and for several federal violations,″ police said.
A neighbor, Rebecca Rollins, said Ms. Trutt ″told one neighbor that she only speaks to dogs. She looked like a leftover hippie from the ’60s,″ the Daily News reported.
Maria Alvarado, who lives down the block, told New York Newsday: ″She used to always talk to my dog when I walked him, but not to me. She’d say weird things to the dog, like ask him questions and wait for an answer.″
Police staked out the company, which produces surgical stapling devices, after receiving information that it might be the target of violence, Norwalk police Lt. Jeff Finch said.
Ms. Trutt was carrying a radio-controlled detonator for the bomb when she was arrested, Finch said.
U.S. Surgical conducts experiments on about 1,000 animals, mostly dogs, a year, Hirsch said. The animals, which are obtained from U.S. Department of Agriculture farms, are destroyed after experiments are completed, he said.