In her Ohio hometown, she’s known as an Army veteran who runs a bar and set up a small self-styled militia her boyfriend says she created to help neighbors if tornadoes hit.
To the FBI, she’s a militant leader who traveled to Washington, DC, and stormed the US Capitol, encouraging others to do the same.
The two worlds of Jessica Watkins crashed into each other in the small village of Woodstock, Ohio, when FBI agents turned up early one morning to arrest her for her alleged role in the January 6 insurrection.
“We could hear so many sirens. And then we heard them yelling for her to come downstairs with her hands up and she did not,” said Emma Dixon, who witnessed the pre-dawn raid from a home across the street.
Watkins was seen on video taking part in the insurrection that is linked to the deaths of five people and that terrified lawmakers, who were forced to run to hiding places, fearing for their lives.
When the FBI arrived in Woodstock, Watkins was not there. Her boyfriend, Montana Siniff was. He told CNN disorientating flash-bangs were used. A window was broken. It remained that way days later.
FBI agents questioned him and eventually left, he said. In a complaint filed in court, federal prosecutors said agents recovered what “appears to be directions for making explosives, authored by ‘the Jolly Roger.’” Jolly Roger is also the name of Watkins’ bar and a Facebook account believed to be linked to her, authorities say.
“That is entirely false. She hates explosives. There is no moral or lawful way to really make use of explosives as a regular citizen,” Siniff said.
Watkins, 38, is now detained at the Montgomery County Jail, about 50 miles away in Dayton, after she handed herself in to authorities last Sunday.
Records show Watkins served in the Army under a different name from April 2001 to December 2003. She was deployed to Afghanistan from September to December 2002.
Watkins is accused, along with two other military veterans, of a multitude of charges: conspiracy, conspiracy to impede an officer, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
The three veterans were the first to face conspiracy charges, som