A 52-year-old Richmond woman is facing a felony explosives charge after police say she sparked a bomb scare at a Whole Foods store in Virginia on Friday.
But the woman says the “device” that caused the scare was a novelty alarm clock she bought for $1. She was keeping it on the backseat of her car with plans of giving it to her daughter as a gift.
Daphne Daedre Page was arrested by the Henrico County Police at the Short Pump store after the parking lot was evacuated Friday night, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Police said a passerby saw the device in Page’s car and called 911. The device looks like sticks of dynamite wrapped around a clock.
“We got there, we found the device, and it appeared to be real, which resulted in a decision to set up a perimeter,” Henrico Police Lieutenant B.T. Wilson told the newspaper. “Through the investigation, we linked the car and the device to Daphne Page.”
Page was charged with the manufacture, possession or use of explosives, which includes the manufacture and possession of hoax devices, police said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Page Says
Daphne Page, a 52-year-old resident of the Fan District area of Richmond, spoke to WTVR-TV from jail on Saturday and apologized for her role in causing the scare, the news station reports.
“I feel stupid having spent a dollar on a stupid clock at a yard sale,” she told the news station. “I feel really dumb.”
Police, firefighters and a hazardous materials crew were called to the Whole Foods store in Short Pump about 5:05 p.m. Friday after receiving a call of a “suspicious device” in a car, WTVR reports. Police said the 911 caller reported seeing a bomb inside a red Mercedes station wagon at the parking lot of the 11173 West Broad Street store.
Police Lieutenant B.T. Wilson told the Richmond Times-Dispatch the store was not evacuated, but the scare did cause a disruption.
“I’m sure that it significantly impacted businesses in that area,” he told the newspaper.
Page told the newspaper she was returning to her car after shopping and asked a police officer if it was OK to go to her vehicle, which was surrounded by yellow tape.
“I asked, ‘Is it OK for me to go to my car?’ ” she told the Times-Dispatch. “They said, ‘We need to talk.’”
Page said she explained the “device” was a clock before the bomb squad responded, but authorities said they still had to examine it to make sure.
2. She Says She Bought the Novelty Clock at a Yard Sale for her 18-Year-Old Daughter as a Joke & Says It Is ‘Obviously Fake’
Page told WTVR-TV she bought the novelty alarm clock, which is designed to look like dynamite, at a yard sale on Floyd Avenue in Richmond last Sunday as a gift for her 18-year-old daughter.
“I picked it up and thought, ‘Haha, this is funny. My daughter’s birthday is coming up she might find this amusing,” Page told the news station.
She had the clock in her car because she planned to give it to her daughter while visiting her in Vermont next week, where she is in college.
“It was an obvious fake, and they were pursuing it as though it was an intentional hoax,” Page told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “That would be a horrible thing to do to people, and it’s not anything about who I am.”
Page questioned whether items like the clock should be made and sold, if it could cause a bomb scare.
“They obviously shouldn’t be providing this stuff on the market for people to buy if it’s something that’s going to be so controversial when you actually have it in your hands,” she told the newspaper. “It was a product someone purchased in a store and that allowed me to think that it was OK to just have in my car and it wouldn’t be believable enough to cause any anxiety.”
She told WTVR-TV, “I felt a certain sense of permission to be casual with this clock. It was available on the market. If it’s legal to sell why shouldn’t it be legal for me to have it?”
Page also puts some of the blame on the person who called 911.
“I just question the judgement of that one person who decided to walk by,” Page told WTVR.
She told WWBT-TV, “”t looked like brown paper wrapped around cylinders. I don’t know what sticks of dynamite look like I am extrapolating much like the person who saw in the back seat of my car extrapolated.”
3. She Is a Former Substitute Teacher in Baltimore Who Graduated From St. John’s College in Annapolis
Page worked as a substitute teacher in the Baltimore County Public Schools system before moving from Maryland to Richmond, according to her Linkedin profile.
She graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1988 with degrees in history of mathematics and philosophy.
Page does not have a criminal record.
4. Page Could Face Up to 5 Years in Prison if Convicted of the Felony Charge
Page was charged with manufacture, possession, use, etc., of fire bombs or explosive materials or devices, under Virginia statute § 18.2-85. She is specifically being accused of violating the part of the law regarding the possession or manufacture of a “hoax explosive device.”
According to the law, a “hoax explosive device” is “any device which by its design, construction, content or characteristics appears to be or to contain a bomb or other destructive device or explosive but which is an imitation of any such device or explosive.”
Police say the law prohibits anyone from possessing a device that looks like a bomb or explosive device, WWBT-TV reports.
According to the law, “Any person who constructs, uses, places, sends, or causes to be sent any hoax explosive device so as to intentionally cause another person to believe that such device is a bomb or explosive shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.”
A class 6 felony is punishable by not less than one year and no more than five years in prison, according to Virginia law. A judge or jury could also choose to sentence her to up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.
5. She Was Released on Her Own Recognizance on Monday After Spending a Weekend in Jail
Page was held at the Henrico County Jail without bail until her first court appearance on Monday because of the severity of the felony charge, WTVR-TV reports.
Online jail records show she was booked into the county’s Jail West facility at 11:16 p.m. Friday. She was released on her own recognizance after making her court appearance Monday before Judge Craig Duncan, WWBT’s Allison Norlian reports. The judge decided she would be released without having to post bail because she does not have a criminal history. The prosecution agreed to that.
Her attorneys told the news station that they are happy she is being released, but they think the charges should be dropped. She was also given permission to travel to Vermont to see her daughter graduate from college.
She is due back in court on August 24 for a preliminary hearing.
Page said the search of her car lasted about five hours, and she was inside the store for about an hour, while shopping, without realizing what was happening outside.
“It was embarrassing for me, to be the initiator of such a big mess,” Page told WWBT-TV. “”I saw the police tape and the flares in the road, and I thought ‘huh,’ then I turned to walk towards my vehicle and I asked the officer what was going on. They said ‘is that your car?’ and I said ‘yes it is,’ and they said ‘we need to talk to you.”
She has been in police custody since then.