Michigan canvasser still afraid after threat, suspect arrest

Wayne County Board of Canvassers member Monica Palmer holds a press conference at the law offices of Michael Schwartz, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020 in Farmington Hills, Mich. Federal prosecutors on Wednesday, Dec. 23, filed charges against Katelyn Jones of Epping, N.H.,, who is accused of texting threats to Palmer following the presidential election and sending photos of a bloody mutilated female body. Jones was charged with threatening violence through interstate commerce following an FBI investigation. (Robin Buckson/Detroit News via AP)

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — The Republican chair of a county canvassing board in Michigan who initially refused to certify local election results said Thursday that she doesn’t know a woman charged with sending her threatening text messages.

Wayne County Canvasser Monica Palmer told reporters outside her attorney’s office in Farmington Hills, Michigan, that she still fears for her family’s safety following the arrest of Katelyn Jones, 23.

Federal authorities charged Jones with making a threat of violence.

Jones has ties to Olivet, Michigan, according to her driver’s license, but the FBI said she sent the threats from Epping, New Hampshire, where she was staying with her mother, and she was arrested there.

“I don’t believe I’ve crossed paths with her,” Palmer said. “I’m still fearful. This woman… has my address, my phone number. I can’t go to the grocery store. I can’t go Christmas shopping in fear that somebody is going to snatch my daughter.”

Palmer chaired the Nov. 17 Board of Canvassers meeting. She and a fellow Republican on the four-member board initially refused to certify Wayne County’s election results, typically a routine step on the way to statewide certification. They cited problems with absentee ballots in Detroit.

Palmer and William Hartmann were criticized during public comment by people watching on video conference. They subsequently changed their votes and certified the election totals, saying they were assured by the board’s two Democrats that a post-election audit would be performed. Biden won the county on Nov. 3 with 68% of the vote.

Palmer and Hartmann said they voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure” and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated. They said President Donald Trump reached out to them in support immediately after the November meeting.

Palmer said Thursday that after the Nov. 17 meeting she began receiving emails, text messages and messages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“I couldn’t keep up with all the social platforms with the threats that were coming in,” she said. “There was a lot of bullying, a lot of intimidation.”

Palmer described one text message as “very graphic, very serious.”

“It contained nude photos of mutilated, assaulted dead women and directly following that a picture of my daughter, telling me that I should imagine those photos were my daughter and that my husband, myself and my daughter should be afraid for our lives because we’re terrorists,” she said.

Jones admitted making the threats when interviewed by agents Tuesday because she felt Palmer was “interfering with the election,” the FBI said in a court filing.

Jones appeared in federal court in Concord, New Hampshire, and was told to report to court in Detroit on Jan. 13. She must participate in a mental health program. Her attorney declined to comment.