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Texas Man Allegedly Tried to Buy a Gun to Confront a Penn State Professor He Believed Was Controlling His Mind

by on May 30, 2018 3:23 PM

A Texas man is in jail after police say he came to State College and tried to buy a gun with the intention of confronting a Penn State psychology professor he believed was controlling his mind with a neurotransmitter.

Jeffrey S. Reese, 41, is charged with misdemeanor counts of stalking, harassment and criminal attempt to possess an instrument of crime. He was denied bail because he is allegedly a danger to the professor and he has no ties to Centre County.

Reese previously waived a preliminary hearing on the charges of stalking and harassment. The charge of criminal attempt to possess an instrument of crime was bound over for trial on Wednesday after a preliminary hearing before District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker.

Police said it started in 2016, when over the course of several months Reese made phone calls and sent messages to the professor accusing him of implanting a device in his brain in exchange for $100,000. Reese reportedly said he was being tortured and wanted the device removed.

Penn State University Police Detective Andrew Stager testified that in August 2016, Reese drove from Texas to University Park and located the professor in his office, accusing him of controlling his thoughts. Reese allegedly said he would do whatever he needed to do to make it stop and then left the building and drove back to Texas.

After being contacted by police Reese allegedly said it was a matter of survival and that he would kill the professor to protect himself if he needed to. Law enforcement in Texas were notified of his statements.

In 2017, Reese made multiple phone calls to Penn State's Institutional Review Board and Office of General Counsel demanding that the professor's research be shut down, Stager testified. Reese also allegedly called police to have the professor arrested for attempted murder.

Reese contacted police on March 10, 2018 and challenged them for not fully investigating the professor, according to an affidavit of probabl cause. He also allegedly said he would be moving to the State College area.

Stager said that a search of Reese's cell phone would later find that on April 4 Reese sent messages to several individuals indicating he was planning on leaving for State College and asking where he could buy a gun. He arrived in State College on April 6 and located the professor's home address, according to police. Two days later he allegedly used his cell phone to search for gun sales in the State College area.

Reese called police on April 9 and said he had new information to show the professor had implanted a device with his brain, Stager testified. In a meeting at the Penn State police station, Reese allegedly described how the professor uses the transmitter to monitor and control him at all times and that the operators communicate with him through a voice in his head. 

He denied coming to Pennsylvania to harm the professor and said that he did so to get closer to the site of the transmission to make it stop, according to police. Stager testified that Reese said he would not leave Centre County until he made it stop.

"I'm not violent and I don't want to kill him," Reese told police. "My statement before was taken out of context. If I wanted to kill him he would already be dead."

Police gave Reese a formal trespass notice and told him to refrain from having contact with the professor, who indicated that he feared for the safety of himself and his family. That same day, Reese received a text message from an individual stating he still had a pistol for sale. Reese responded asking "Which one was it you have? I sent a few messages," then placed a phone call to the same number, Stager testified.

Reese sent an email to police later that day saying he didn't have a gun but if he did it would be for protection. 

"This man is dangerous," Reese wrote, according to police. "I have been assaulted and tortured for many years by him."

Stager testified that on April 10, Reese sent a text message to another person saying "Yeah I found this bastard his house everything. I'm just waiting to see if the cops are gonna do anything but protect him."

The following day a staff member at a State College area motel notified police of a conversation she had with Reese. She said that Reese talked at length about a Penn State researcher who put a transmitter in his brain, according to police. He allegedly told the staff member he had driven from Texas to seek compensation from the professor and that he has to take matters into his own hands.

He allegedly said that he didn't want it to come to it, but if he had to go to the professor's house with a gun to get his money, he would. Reese also asked the staff member if she knew where he could buy a gun "on the D.L." and when she said no, he replied that he may have found one anyway, Stager testified.

After learning of the alleged remarks, police took steps to assure the professor's safety. Reese was arrested on the initial charges of stalking and harassment on April 13. 

The new charge of criminal attempt to possess an instrument of crime was filed on May 23 after police executed a search warrant for Reese's phone and computer.

Reese's attorney, public defender Shannon Malone, argued that the new charge should be dropped. She said Reese never said that he wanted to kill the professor and that there was no evidence he intended to commit a crime if he obtained a gun, noting his statement that the gun would be for protection.

Stager testified that taken together, the statements made by Reese since 2016 were "concerning" and that Stager believed the professor was "in imminent danger."

Gillette-Walker dismissed a separate count of criminal attempt to possess a weapon, which requires attempting to possess a firearm or other weapon to be concealed with the intent of committing a crime. She denied Malone's request for bail modification.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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