PORTLAND, Maine — A Missouri man has been charged in U.S. District Court with interstate stalking.
Benjamin Lee, 52, threatened to kill his estranged wife and “mount her head on the wall,” according to an FBI affidavit.
He made his first appearance Wednesday in federal court in Portland.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III ordered that Lee be held without bail until a detention hearing can be held Monday.
Lee originally was arrested in September and charged in state court with domestic violence stalking and having a loaded firearm in a vehicle after his wife reported that he was driving by the house where she was staying in southern Maine. She told a dispatcher that she thought her husband had a gun, the affidavit said.
A short time later, Lee was stopped by Maine State Police and a York County sheriff’s deputy, according to the affidavit. Lee allowed them to search his trunk and they found “five firearms (and over 200 rounds of assorted ammunition matching the caliber of the firearms), a machete, a bayonet, a folding knife, handcuffs, duct tape, packing tape, rubber gloves, camouflage face paint, a map of Maine with [a Maine town] circled in pen, a roll of plastic trash bags and a roll of plastic sheeting.”
During a subsequent search of Lee’s car, police found a digital camera with a photo of the residence where his wife was staying saved on it, an empty 10-gallon cooler and a sleeping bag, according to the affidavit.
The investigation showed that in May Lee’s estranged wife told him to leave her alone and that she was not coming back to him. While not all of Lee’s emails to her included threats, some did, the affidavit said. The emails quoted in the court document included obscenities, typographical errors and incorrect use of punctuation.
“LIKE YOU SAID THE KIDS DONT NEED US ANY MORE AND [obscenity] IT YOU LEFT[,] SO CAN I[,] YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE WHAT YOU PUSHED ME TO STICK AROUND YOU WILL FEEL THIS I PROMISE,” one quoted in the affidavit said. Another said: “i have no scedule i can wait for ever and if i decide i needd to come out there i will see things through.”
The state charge was dismissed Wednesday, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee. Lee had been held without bail at the York County Jail in Alfred since his arrest in September. As of Wednesday morning, he is in federal custody, the federal prosecutor said.
If convicted Lee faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.