Man ignores tip to stop threats, gets 2 1/2 years in prison

FBI told Californian to stop threatening his estranged wife in Columbus

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 19, 2013 

FBI told Californian to stop threatening his estranged wife in Columbus

By TIM CHITWOOD

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com

A California man who continued to threaten his estranged wife here in Columbus even after authorities warned him to stop was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in federal prison for interstate stalking.

James Howard Wheeler, 46, an intensive care nurse who lived in Imperial Beach, Calif., made threats so violent that investigators feared he might attempt a murder-suicide here, authorities said.

After his wife moved here during an impending divorce, Wheeler threatened not only her and her son, but the police to whom the victims reported his frequent telephone calls and Facebook messages.

"Let the cops listen to this,"

he said on one voicemail. "When you come to get my body out of this f---ing house, you better f---ing bring the ammo, you motherf----er. I am killing every one of you bastards."

On another occasion he told the woman: "I am going to call you f---ing every day of your life 'til I get tired of calling. Then I am gonna come see you. I promise I am gonna see ya."

Other threats included emailing his wife a picture of a gun with the subject line, "I hope you are dead," and this Facebook message referring to a Columbus TV station: "Stay tuned to WRBL in Columbus. Wheeler is going to be famous."

Prosecutors said such threats continued from July 2012 until February 2013, even though an FBI agent and a San Diego County sheriff's deputy in California warned Wheeler on Aug. 23, 2012, to stop harassing the woman and her family.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals said Wheeler left 37 threatening voicemails between Oct. 19, 2012, and Jan. 10, 2013.

His persistence resulted in FBI agents and San Diego County deputies arresting him Feb. 27 at his California home. Brought to Columbus to face his accusation in U.S. District Court, he pleaded guilty Aug. 13.

Before Judge Clay Land sentenced Wheeler on Wednesday, the ex-wife's son addressed the court, saying his family wanted nothing more to do with the defendant. They would not wait to see whether Wheeler corrected his conduct, said Robert Carter.

"This is goodbye," he emphasized.

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