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Elberton Woman Threatened to Blow Up Athens Democrats’ Campaign Headquarters

Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff campaign at UGA on Dec. 4, the day after a woman called in a bomb threat against Athens Democrats. Credit: Blake Aued

An Elberton woman who served as a security contractor for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to threatening to bomb Democrats’ Athens election headquarters.

Jessica Diane Higginbotham, 35—also known as Jessica Harriod or Jessica Jones—faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on Sept. 7.

“The bomb threat was leveled by an employee for a political organization days before a federal election in Georgia; this incident was a targeted effort to disturb the peace and disrupt the democratic process,” Peter D. Leary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said in a news release. “The immediate response and seamless collaboration by all levels of law enforcement safeguarded the community and helped bring the defendant to justice.”

Higginbotham staged a break-in and stole a laptop from Democratic headquarters in a Sunset Drive office park on Nov. 27, Leary’s office said.

On Dec. 3, Higginbotham sent a text message to a DSCC employee saying: “Hello, I am writing this message to you to let you know that I am coming by either tonight or in the morning to set a bomb up. So I can blow all the Democrats up. I have other people going to other offices also. If I can’t stop you by breaking in and destroying the property then I will blow every one up. So be ready to be blown up. This is going to either happen tonight or in the morning. Hope you like being on the wrong team.”

The message was sent the day before Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were scheduled to appear in Athens, and just three days before voters would re-elect Warnock in a runoff.

FBI agents and the U.S. Capitol Police both independently confirmed that the message was sent from Higginbotham’s cell phone. FBI agents located her in an Athens coffee shop, where, according to Leary’s office, she vomited when she saw the agents approaching. Initially Higginbotham denied sending the text message, but a search warrant on her phone linked her email account to the threat. Investigators also found the stolen laptop among Higginbotham’s personal belongings.

“Higginbotham now admits that she used a cell phone to willfully threaten to kill or injure people and unlawfully destroy a building with an explosive,” according to the news release.

In addition to the FBI and Capitol Police, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department and the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office also participated in the investigation.