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Woman faces charges for alleged threats to kill Wisconsin lawmakers

By Rich Phillips, CNN
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Budget battles in the 'Bust Belt'
  • She is accused of sending threatening e-mails to 16 Wisconsin state senators
  • Some of the e-mails have threats to kill the senators and their families, authorities say
  • The suspect was upset over the law to limit collective bargaining, authorities say
  • Senator: "It's hard to know how serious some of this stuff is"

Read more about this story from CNN affiliate WKOW.

(CNN) -- A Wisconsin woman, apparently enraged over the new state law that limits collective bargaining for government workers, is being accused of sending e-mails to 16 Republican state senators threatening to kill them.

Katherine Windels, 26, faces four counts of using a computer to threaten, injure, or harm and creating a bomb scare, authorities said.

A criminal complaint released by the Dane County District Attorney's Office alleges that the woman from Cross Plains, Wisconsin, admitted to the threats. She said she sent the e-mails because she was angry at lawmakers who voted to limit collective bargaining for about 300,000 state workers.

Windels, according to the complaint, used two separate e-mail accounts to send e-mails to the Republican state senators including one to Sen. Robert Cowles on March 9.

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"We feel that you and your republican dictators have to die...I as well as many others know where you and your family live ... We have all planned to assault you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head. ... We feel it's worth our lives because we would be saving the lives of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and say goodbye to your loved ones," the e-mail said.

Windels also wrote to Cowles that there were several bombs placed in various locations, including his house, his car, and the state capitol, according to the complaint.

"I don't want to tell you all of them because that's just no fun," the e-mail said.

Cowles said he and his colleagues have had several death threats.

"It's for the police and investigators to figure out if it's a legitimate threat or not. There have been lots of efforts to intimidate me and my colleagues," Cowels said during a phone interview Thursday night.

Public outrage over Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill practically shut down the Wisconsin state legislature for weeks.

Tens of thousands of protesters including union supporters and public employees descended upon the capitol, recently.

The bill, which limits collective bargaining powers of some state workers, was signed into law by Walker on March 11. Democrats have filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the law.

A Wisconsin judge has imposed a restraining order on the law stopping it from being implemented until the judge can hear complaints about it.

So far, Windels has not been arrested. She will likely be served with a subpoena on Friday, Dane County's district attorney told CNN affiliate WKOW.

According to the complaint, investigators read Windels excerpts from the e-mails, and she replied, "I know I said that, but I don't know why I said that."

Windels allegedly told police that she did not intend to follow through on any of her statements.

Repeated attempts to reach Windels, at her home, were unsuccessful.

"Its hard to know how serious some of this stuff is," Cowles said.

But Cowles did acknowledge that there is a heightened level of concern since the Tucson, Arizona, shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Giffords suffered a gunshot wound to the head, and is recovering in a Houston rehabilitation facility. Six others were killed and 13 injured.

"I'm not advertising where I'm going till further notice," Cowles said. "(But) I'm still quite visible. I attend functions all the time. I'm going to keep doing that. I'm not going to let these people make me twiddle my thumbs and be nervous."