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Military officer charged with threatening to blow up Washington state capitol

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 9:22 PM EDT, Tue March 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lt. Col. Robert E. Underwood pleads not guilty, CNN affiliate reports
  • Underwood is charged with three counts of felony harassment
  • He and his wife have been going through "a nasty divorce" the past two years

(CNN) -- A lieutenant colonel from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three counts of felony harassment alleging he threatened to blow up the state capitol in Olympia and hire a hit man for $150,000 to kill his estranged wife and his boss, CNN affiliate KIRO reported.

Lt. Col. Robert E. Underwood, who has been undergoing "a nasty divorce" the past two years, made the threats between March 1 and Monday, said Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lori Kooiman in a court document.

Underwood and his estranged wife have children and are dealing with custody and money issues, Kooiman said in the court document.

A woman with whom Underwood has been in a relationship the past three months told Underwood's wife in early March that her husband "was on the edge," Kooiman said.

Underwood threatened to kill his wife and his boss, also a lieutenant colonel, Kooiman said.

"He stated he has paid a hit man $150,000 to kill them. He said the money is in foreign accounts and it would not be found," Kooiman said in court papers.

"The defendant recently had one of their daughters spend the night and he told her that he was going to do something crazy and it would be on the news, the world would know about it and he was going to resign his commission," Kooiman said.

The girlfriend "also borrowed the defendant's laptop and found that he (had) a picture of his teenage daughter, naked while sleeping in bed. She also found that he had searched the Internet for how to get teenagers drunk and have sex with them. She confronted the defendant about what she found and he told her that her head was on the chopping block," Kooiman said in a declaration for determination of probable cause.

The girlfriend told detectives that "the defendant has nothing to lose, he has an arsenal of weapons and she believes he has the ability to save the $150,000 and hide it," the prosecutor said.

Underwood's boss told authorities the defendant has been deployed multiple times, but the Army says Underwood doesn't suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the prosecutor said.

However, Underwood witnessed his mother kill his two siblings, and she also shot Underwood "multiple times and left him for dead," the prosecutor stated in court papers.

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