Australian police are puzzling over the clues reportedly left behind with a fake collar bomb: a USB stick inside the device, extortionate demands that don't include a dollar figure, and a signature by a character in a James Clavell novel.
It took police bomb squad experts more than 10 hours to remove the "very elaborate" device from the neck of 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver on Wednesday. It was only some time after the "bomb" was removed that they were able to determine it was a hoax.
The terrified and exhausted teen was taken out of her home in a stretcher.
Pulver has recovered from her ordeal, her parents said today.
"I can tell you that we, as parents, we are extraordinarily proud of Maddy," said Madeleine Pulver's father William Pulver at a news conference this morning. "She has woken up this morning in pretty good spirits. She's a little tired, a little sore from holding this damn device in place for about 10 hours."
Madeleine Pulver is the daughter of one of Australia's richest men and was alone in her family's house in Mosman, a wealthy suburb of Sydney when a masked man broke into the home, forced a bomb-like device onto her neck with a chain and then fled the property, police said.
Collar Bomber Claimed to Be Character From a Novel
"I can confirm for you that there was a letter attached to this device, a note attached to this device that did make certain demands. We are treating this as an attempted extortion," said Detective Luke Moore with the New South Wales police.
According to reports, the letter said that the device would explode if the teenager called the police, but she bravely called anyway at around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Soon after, a bomb squad and hostage negotiators arrived at the house. The neighborhood was evacuated and closed off as her terrified parents were forced to wait across the street.
The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting mysterious details from the letter left at the scene. Reports say the long, typed note did not place a price on the very specific demands it made. Police have not released the content of the letter or commented on reports that there was a USB stick embedded in the fake bomb.
The paper also reports that the cryptic letter was signed under the name of Dirk Struan, a fictional character from a 1966 novel called "Tai-Pan" by James Clavell. The character of Dirk Struan is a 19th century businessman who goes to extreme lengths to destroy his business rival and dominate Chinese trade.
For the next 10 hours, bomb experts worked to disarm the device. Police say Madeleine was able to keep her emotions under control and remained calm and composed throughout the process.
Police spent the night investigating the crime scene and are now looking for a person they believe planted the device on the teen.
"We want to get our hands on who's done this," said New South Wales state Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch.
An almost identical story, in the form of a Hollywood comedy, is set to be released on Aug. 12. The film, "30 Minutes or Less," stars "The Social Network's" Jesse Eisenberg as a pizza boy who is kidnapped by two criminals who strap a bomb to him and tell him to rob a bank or else they will kill him.
Television shows including Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Hawaii 5-0 have portrayed similar story lines and these episodes have aired in Australia as recently as December 2010 and April of this year.
At a news conference today, William Pulver thanked police and emergency services for keeping his daughter safe throughout the ordeal. Four officers, including bomb specialists and police negotiators, were inside the house with the teenager to keep her calm as they examined the device. Madeleine relayed a special message to these officers through her father.
"Maddy particularly wanted to thank those officers who spent many long hours sitting with her showing little regard for their own personal safety," William Pulver said. "They know who they are and she is incredibly grateful. Thank you."