A former pilot for Republic Airways pleaded guilty in Kansas City federal court Monday to threatening the company’s chief executive officer and family with torture and murder.
Matthew Richard Walker, 37, of Faribault, Minn., admitted in his plea agreement that he delivered several such threats while he flew for the airline. He will be sentenced later.
In August 2012, an airline employee found a threatening letter in the cockpit of a plane parked at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Other letters, identical and notable for their sadistic tone, later were found on planes in Washington; Charlotte, N.C.; and Kansas City. A letter also was discovered in flight on an aircraft en route to Indianapolis. Another letter turned up in a crew room at Kansas City International Airport.
The threats appear to have grown out of a labor dispute between the airline and its pilots union, which had engaged in prolonged contract negotiations during that period.
The threat took the form of a gruesome 20-line poem, titled, in part, “A Contract Now …” The poem threatened the CEO and his family with sexual mutilation, torture and death:
“Aurora Colorado needs to happen to you …
“I’ll take my smith and Wesson and I’ll put three in each knee
“I’ll laugh sadistically when you beg and plead
“And don’t forget about your children cause I haven’t killed them yet.”
Interviewed by the FBI in October 2012, Walker admitted writing the letters out of frustration but said: “There was never any intent to hurt anyone. There was never a credible threat.”
According to court records, agents searched Walker’s computer and found a copy of the poem and other written material.
“Go red go black go green. When we get paid so little what does it mean??” the writer said. “You shoulda paid us more!!”
Though court records did not identify the target of the threats, the company’s website said that Bryan Bedford has served as president and chief executive officer of Republic Airways Holdings Inc. since 1999.
A company spokesman declined to discuss the issue, citing personnel and legal matters.