Meredith Lowell is an animal rights activist from Ohio who is accused of stabbing a woman because she was wearing a fur coat inside a church. The stabbing happened Wednesday, November 20, at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, police say.
The 35-year-old Lowell was charged with attempted murder and felonious assault. She was previously accused of plotting to have someone wearing fur killed by a hitman eight years ago, but a federal judge dismissed the case after Lowell was found to be incompetent to stand trial.
The victim was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. According to Cleveland.com, the woman was stabbed twice in the arm and once in the abdomen. Lowell was tackled and held down by a man who witnessed the attack, police said. She was then taken into custody when police arrived.
Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg said investigators believe Lowell’s animal rights activism is a motive for the attack because of her previous arrest and activities.
Here’s what you need to know about Meredith Lowell:
1. Meredith Lowell Attacked & Stabbed a Babysitter Who Was Wearing Fur Boots While Dropping Off Children at the Church for Choir Practice, Police Say
The stabbing occurred about 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, at the Fairmount Presbyterian Church on Fairmount Boulevard in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, according to police. The woman who was stabbed was a babysitter who was dropping off two children at the church for choir practice, Cleveland.com reports. The children were not harmed.
According to police, the victim was wearing fur boots. WKYC-TV reports that the fur on the woman’s boots was actually fake.
The victim’s condition was not immediately known, but she was expected to survive. Police said they arrived at the church and found the victim holding her left side.
Reverend Jessie MacMillan, of Fairmount Presbyterian, issued a statement saying a woman had entered the church and stabbed another woman who had also just entered.
“The Crescendo Choir children were taken to a secure room accompanied by adults while the perpetrator was being restrained,” MacMillan wrote. “Church staff immediately called 911 and Cleveland Heights Police and EMS responded promptly. The subject was taken into custody. The victim is in stable condition. No further information is available at this time. The church will be closed on Thrusday and Friday and will reopen on Saturday for the Mock memorial service. Worship services will take place on Sunday at the normal times, 8:30am and 10:00am. Please keep all involved in your prayers.”
2. She Offered About $700 & Jewelry to an Undercover FBI Agent Posing as a Hitman in Exchange for Him Killing Someone Wearing Fur With Either a Gun With a Silencer or in a Knife Attack, Feds Say
Meredith Lowell was arrested as part of a federal investigation in 2012 after she posted on Facebook using an alias, Anne Lowery, about her desire to hire a hitman to have someone wearing fur killed outside of a library in Cleveland Heights, according to court documents.
Lowell exchanged messages with an undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman and offered about $700 to $900 and jewelry in exchange for the murder of a person wearing fur. She wrote in a message, according to court documents, ““ will pay you after you kill the person who is wearing fur at the above mentioned time and time of the year. You need to bring a gun that has a silencer on it and that can be easily concealed in your pants pocket or coat. Do not wear anything that even looks even remotely like fur.”
Lowell added the hitman could instead use a knife. She wrote he could, “bring a sharp knife that is at least 4 inches long, it should be sharp enough to stab someone with and/or to slit their throat to kill them. … I want the person to be dead in less than 2 minutes.”
She said she wanted the victim to be older than 12, preferably older than 14, but said anyone over 12 would be OK, according to the FBI. Lowell said she would be at the scene with anti-fur documents and, “I plan on staying after the hit for reasons of benefit to the movement. And think being caught would actually benefit me personally.”
Lowell, then 27, said she wanted to escape from a home where her parents and family ate meat, wore wool and used animal products. She told the undercover agent, according to documents, “So all of the speciest things I have mentioned…make me want to have the hit even sooner so I can get out of my house and hopefully get closer to ending the fur industry which is our goal.”
The full criminal complaint can be read here.
3. After Lowell Was Found Mentally Incompetent to Stand Trial, Prosecutors Said Releasing Her Could ‘Put the General Public at Risk of Serious Bodily Harm or Death’
The case against Meredith Lowell was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan in January 2013 after a finding by a U.S. Bureau of Prisons forensic psychologist, according to federal court records. Lowell was released from the Federal Medical Center at Carswell, Texas, after the case was dropped.
Gaughan said in her order that the forensic psychologist found Lowell was incompetent to stand trial, “based on mental disease or defect.” She wrote that, “On January 11, 2013, Leslie Powers, Forensic Psychologist, issued a report stating that the defendant remained incompetent due to mental disease or defect, but did not pose a danger to herself, the community, or property.”
Gaughan banned Lowell from possessing guns. According to prosecutors, there were concerns about her being released to her parents’ Ohio home, where guns were known to be located.
According to court documents, prosecutors sought to have Lowell held in custody based on her possible dangerousness. Prosecutors said releasing her could “put the general public at risk of serious bodily harm or death.”
According to prosecutors, a guard at the Cuyahoga County Jail said that while Lowell was being held there she passed a note saying, if she was freed she would, “contract another hitman to kill a person who is wearing fur or even kill the fur wearing person myself.”
Prosecutors wrote, “The Government is concerned that a release to her home is inadequate to protect the general public. In the Defendant’s house are items made with fur which she specifically mentioned to the ‘hitman’ as motivators for her actions. More worrisome is the presence of firearms in the house observed during the FBI arrest of the Defendant and subsequent search of the house.”
Prosecutors added, “Based upon the findings of the reports, and the facts of this case, the Government is requesting this Court order the Defendant be examined for dangerousness, and that the examination should include an evaluation of her future stated intentions, possible living situation if found not dangerous, and stressors in those living situations that could affect the finding of dangerousness.”
4. She Was Arrested in January 2019 on a Felonious Assault Charge in University Heights, Ohio, Records Show
Lowell was arrested in January 2019 and charged with felonious assault in University Heights, Ohio, records show. She was indicted on the charge on February 5. The case is still pending, according to Cuyahoga County court records.
She was accused of harming or attempting to cause harm to a woman with a knife, according to court documents.
Lowell was freed on $5,000 bond on February 6. She was referred for a psychiatric evaluation as part of the ongoing case. She was also ordered to forfeit possession of a Swiss Army knife.
Further details of what led to her arrest in that case were not immediately available.
5. Lowell Is Being Held at the Cleveland Heights City Jail While Awaiting Her First Court Appearance
Lowell is being held at the Cleveland Heights City Jail on $1 million bail as she awaits her first court appearance, authorities say. It is not clear if she has an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
Lowell faces up to life in prison on the attempted murder charge.