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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 2 years ago

Man rigged door in attempt to electrocute estranged wife, according to deputies

Michael Scott Wilson, 32, attached electrical devices to the door's lock and handle to shock anyone trying to enter with a key.

After his wife filed for divorce, a Palm Coast man came up with a devious plan to hurt or kill her.

Michael Scott Wilson, 32, booby-trapped the door of his home at 110 White Hall Drive with electrical wiring to that it would shock anyone who tried to enter with a key. He tried to arrange for his wife to go to the house and use that particular door. And by the time he was arrested in connection with the crime, he'd changed his Facebook relationship status to "widowed," according to a Flagler County Sheriff's Office report.

Michael Scott Wilson, 32, in a Knox County, Tennessee, booking photo.

But no one was hurt: The estranged wife, who'd filed for divorce Dec. 6, was out of town when she heard some "strange information about the residence" from Wilson — indicating he may have done something dangerous to it — and called her stepfather.

The stepfather and his wife visited the house Dec. 26 and noticed that something seemed to be wedged behind the front door. Wilson had also made statements to his father-in-law about not letting a child touch the front door, and there was odd wring on rear sliding glass door, seemingly in lipstick: It said the word "Hi" beneath a drawing of two eyes.

The stepfather and his wife called the Sheriff's Office. 

A deputy noticed burn marks on the door, and got permission to enter it by force. When he used a "mule kick" on the door, it threw out a large spark, according to an arrest affidavit. The force of the kick pulled the electrical wires attached to the device from the wall outlet.

Wilson, according to the affidavit, had attached electrical wiring to the upper lock and the lower handle so that when someone inserted a key in the lock and then grabbed the handle, they would be closing a circuit: The current would flow from one hand through the chest and past the heart and then out the other arm.

The stepfather and his wife did not touch both the lock and the handle at the same time.

When deputies checked the house, they found the source of the wires: an automotive battery charger and a salt rock lamp with its wiring detached.

On a counter in the home, Wilson had laid out photos of his wife's sonogram: She was pregnant with their second child. On a bed, he'd set out "'love letter' style sticky notes" and a photo album opened to a picture of him and his wife together, according to the arrest affidavit. Deputies also found a firearm that had been stolen from Wilson's stepfather's house, according to the affidavit.

Deputies contacted the estranged wife, who said her husband had a medical episode and fell to the ground several months prior and that his behavior since then had changed. He was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility under a Baker Act in November, received a diagnosis, and hadn't been back to their home since.

But she'd been alarmed enough to get a firearm and a couple of remote "smart cameras" for safety.

About a week before Christmas, Wilson called her and apologized for his behavior and said he wanted to be with her again. She invited him to visit her in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she was staying with family for Christmas.

But his behavior there was odd: He left suddenly and without explanation a few days before Christmas, and sent her texts accusing her of cheating on him. Then he blocked her number.

She was later able to connect with him and calm him down, and he returned to Knoxville and said he'd spent his time away visiting family in Ohio.

But while he was gone, she got alerts from the smart camera system notifying her that the cameras were being taken offline. And he made comments indicating he'd been in Florida: He asked her about the cameras and about her gun, and then told her exactly where she'd hid it.

Other statements also raised alarm: He told her to use the front door when she got home because the garage door wouldn't work, and said, "but make sure that (name redacted) isn't with you because I don't want her getting hurt." Then, at a gas station before she left for home, Wilson began insisting that their young daughter ride home not with her, but with him in a separate car following her. The wife fled.

For information on the booby trap, a detective showed photos of the trap to Florida Power and Light production lead Steven Bray, who supervises 28 journeymen linemen.

Bray estimated that a person who touched the lock and door handle at the same time would have been exposed to 120 volts and about one amp of electricity and "would have an approximately 80-100% chance of suffering death or great bodily harm," according to the arrest affidavit.

The shock would also likely cause anyone subjected to it to "squeeze the door knob for an extended period of time," increasing the risk of injury or death.

A warrant was signed for Wilson’s arrest.

He was found in Knoxville at about 12:30 p.m. Dec. 28 and arrested on two counts of attempted aggravated battery on a pregnant person and one count of grand theft of a firearm, with a combined $150,000 bond.

Law enforcement officers who arrested Wilson in Knoxville have also charged him with possession of methamphetamines, and he will have to face that charge in Tennessee before he can be extradited to the Flagler County jail to face Flagler County charges, according to a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

“This is one of the most bizarre domestic violence cases I have seen in my career,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a news release about the case. “Not only did this man plan to electrocute his wife, but he could have injured a deputy or any person attempting to enter this residence. Thankfully this man was found and taken into custody before he could cause the harm he intended.”

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