How Cat Hair Helped Authorities Find A Texas Woman Who Allegedly Mailed Bombs To Obama

Putu Sayoga; Yana Paskova/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A Texas woman was indicted earlier this week for allegedly mailing homemade explosive devices in 2016 to a Social Security Administration official, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and President Barack Obama after cat hair on the bombs helped authorities find her. Authorities said a Texas district court charged 46-year-old Julia Poff on six counts, including mailing injurious articles and the transportation of explosives with the intent to kill and injure.

If you own a cat, you know the war against cat hair is a losing battle. It gets on your clothes, on your couch, and on your pillow. It's embedded into your carpet and somehow keeps ending up on your kitchen counter. Which is why it's not altogether surprising that a few pesky strands reportedly ended up stuck to packages containing homemade explosive devices Poff allegedly mailed to Obama, Abbott, and Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Calvin in October of last year.

None of the devices were reported to have detonated in papers filled with the court. In fact, Gov. Abbott was the only recipient to have opened the package; it was reportedly delivered to the governor's mansion. However, court documents noted Abbott did not open the package as it was designed and thus thwarted the homemade explosive device's detonation trigger. According to local CBS News affiliate KHOU, court documents claimed the materials inside the package "could've caused severe burns and death" if they had detonated.

The package sent to President Obama was reportedly detected and flagged during routine mail screening, according to the New York Times. It is unclear what happened to the package sent to Calvin at the Social Security Administration.

Authorities were reportedly able to link Poff to the dangerous packages thanks to strands of cat hair found under the address label of the package Poff allegedly mailed to President Obama. Federal investigators reportedly matched those hairs to hairs taken from one of Poff's cats. "The cat hair found on the Obama Package was microscopically consistent with the hair of one of Poff's cats," court records stated.

Investigators were also reportedly able to use components of the package and homemade device sent to Gov. Abbott to trace the bombs back to Poff. A nearly obliterated shipping label addressed to Poff was found on the Abbott package along with a cigarette package stamped with a Texas tobacco stamp noting the store the cigarettes were sold at. According to court documents, records of Poff's debit card purchases reportedly showed the card had been used at the same store to purchase cigarettes and soda.

According to court documents, Poff was reportedly upset with Abbot during his time serving as Texas' attorney general before being elected governor in 2014, and the Social Security Administration because she was not getting support from her ex-husband. It was unclear how Poff connected the lack of support from her former spouse to Abbott's work as the state's attorney general.

Court records also showed Poff had reportedly applied for social security benefits but was denied. A case agent testified in court that Poff was a frequent filer who had also submitted false applications for supplemental nutritional assistance program (SNAP) and failed to report income. As for why Poff allegedly mailed an explosive device to then-President Obama, a court testimony revealed Poff simply "did not like Mr. Obama."

Poff, who was also charged with false declaration of bankruptcy and SNAP fraud, is currently being held at a federal detention center in Houston, Texas, due to concerns she is a flight risk, according to a report from the Associated Press. A pretrial conference has reportedly been scheduled for sometime in early 2018.