A 46-year-old woman in Missouri is facing the possibility of spending several years behind bars for allegedly threatening to blowup a local church for the second time in less than a year. Ann Marie Schmidt was arrested earlier this month and charged with one count of felony first-degree harassment, court documents reviewed by Law&Crime show.
Under Missouri state law, first-degree harassment is a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
According to a sworn probable cause statement from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), Schmidt made a specific threat against the Grace Life Church in Pevely on Jan. 26.
An employee of the church told investigators they had received a text message on that date from an unknown number which stated, “I will make your church go bye bye,” the affidavit states. The employee said that the same unknown number also sent additional messages which stated: “(It) wouldn’t be the first time I cause a building to go bye bye,” and “I will be on [sic] the church parking lot Sunday.”
The victim told deputies that the text messages had caused them to “suffer a large amount of emotional distress, to the point the victim hired private security,” according to the affidavit.
Investigators quickly looked to Schmidt as a possible suspect, noting that a “similar incident took place in 2022” in which Schmidt allegedly “made a similar threat with similarly used verbiage,” the document states.
The day following the threat, on Jan. 27, JCSO detectives conducted a recorded interview with Schmidt inside her home concerning the alleged threats to the chapel, per the affidavit.
Authorities say that during the interview, Schmidt “ultimately confessed” to sending the text message to the church employee using a messaging app from her cell phone.
“Schmidt consented to a search of her cell phone where a text messaging application was located,” JCSO officials wrote. “The assigned phone number in the text messaging application matched the phone number the text message was sent from. Schmidt’s phone was seized as evidence.”
Schmidt was placed under arrest and booked into the Jefferson County Jail where she is currently being held without bond. She is currently scheduled to appear before Judge Antonio Martin Manansala on Wednesday for a bond review hearing.
According to a report from the Jefferson County Leader, the “similar” incident in which Schmidt allegedly made previous threats against the church took place in April 2022. In November 2022, she was charged with one count of making a terrorist threat in the second degree, also a Class E felony, court records show. She is scheduled to appear before Judge Manansala in that case on Thursday.
Schmidt’s attorney, Stephen Michael Vighi, and the Grace Life Church, did not immediately respond to messages from Law&Crime seeking comment on the case.
Read the probable cause statement below.
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