The FBI has charged a Columbus man with using email and social media to threaten a former porn star in California, alleging he pledged to put her “bloody head on a stick” and post the image online.
Using the online moniker “Joe Cook,” Brian Blankenship sent repeated threats to “Malena Morgan,” the former actress’ stage name, agents said.
Blankenship, 25, had an initial hearing Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Stephen Hyles, but the hearing was postponed until 11 a.m. Friday in the federal courthouse in downtown Columbus.
Federal agents allege Blankenship used email and the video-streaming social media tool “Periscope” to send Morgan threats. According to an Aug. 27 complaint, Blankenship sent her a video message referencing the Aug. 26 on-air shootings of a Virginia television news crew, and threatened to use live-streaming on Periscope to show his “opening fire on Malena Morgan” and swore he would “end Malena Morgan’s life.”
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He is charged with transmitting in interstate commerce a communication threatening to injure an identified individual.
Because Periscope is a subsidiary of Twitter, which is headquartered in California, the complaints initially went to the FBI’s San Francisco office, which traced “Joe Cook” to Columbus, as confirmed by a later Periscope video in which the suspect said he was in Columbus, Ga.
On Sept. 1, federal agents in Columbus learned the victim had contacted Beverly Hills police about the threats, and the police there had traced “Joe Cook” to Brian Blankenship, whose driver’s license photo appeared to match the “Joe Cook” in the Periscope videos.
Federal agents said they further found that Blankenship used the address email@example.com to send Morgan emails from Aug. 20 through Aug. 24, with five messages on Aug. 20 making threats such as “when you walk out of your house and see me it will be to late”; “as soon as I have a clear shot when I see you”; and “you’re next periscope will be your bloody head on a stick bank on it b****.”
Agents said that also on Aug. 20, Blankenship told Morgan in a message that after a woman blocked him on social media in 2008, he posted the woman’s address online, and she subsequently was shot leaving her New York City apartment. Blankenship told Morgan “the same will happen to you,” the FBI said.
The suspect in other emails told Morgan “I hope you have protection … I have a 9mm and a shotgun your dead b**** and you won’t see me coming” and claimed he would “periscope you’re undoing it’s raw and I will take my own life after you’ve life is gone.”
Among the first to confront Blankenship was Publix Super Market, where he worked. A loss-prevention worker and personnel representative told him Thursday that the grocery chain had heard complaints about Blankenship’s video posts threatening to kill Morgan. FBI agents questioned him that same day, and he admitted making the threats, they said.
Also on Thursday, agents talked to Blankenship’s mother, who told them her son had threatened to kill his family and had claimed he knew where his father’s gun was stored. Agents searched and found a loaded .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol, they said.
The FBI arrested Blankenship at 8:17 p.m. Thursday. Agents filed their formal complaint against him on Friday, they said.
In a Twitter exchange with the Ledger-Enquirer, Morgan wrote that she no longer appears in pornographic films, having retired in 2013.
Her biography on the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) says she’s 24, “grew up in the Midwest coast of Florida” and first worked as a hostess at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. She went to modeling school at age 13 and graduated high school in 2008 before moving to Los Angeles, where at age 20 she became a nude web-cam model and eventually began appearing in explicit hardcore movies. She was the Penthouse magazine “Pet of the Month” in November 2011.