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Woman faces felony charge after pipe bomb found in car in NW Indiana

Katrina Franzen | Porter County sheriff's office


A woman faces a felony charge after a pipe bomb was found in her car Saturday morning during a traffic stop in northwest Indiana.

A person called authorities about 11:50 a.m. to report a possible vehicle crash in the area of Division Road and Woodruft Drive near Center Township, according to a statement from the Porter County sheriff’s office.

An officer arrived and found a black 2011 Hyundai sedan parked on the road with damage to its back end, the sheriff’s office said.

Katrina Franzen, 32, of Valparaiso, was found asleep in the drivers seat, according to the statement. The officer talked with Franzen and learned that the damage to the vehicle did not occur recently, but that her license was suspended.

Franzen allowed the officer to search the car, at which time he found a box on the passenger-side floor, the sheriff’s office said. The officer discovered the box contained a pipe bomb with a fuse attached when he picked it up and opened it.

An officer who works as a technician for the county’s bomb squad was called and confirmed the device was a pipe bomb. The county’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team was called, and residents in the area either evacuated or told to stay in their homes while police closed Division Road in the area.

Franzen was taken into custody and charged with a felony count of possession of a destructive device, the sheriff’s office said. The pipe bomb was rendered safe about 1:50 p.m. and roads were reopened.

During an interview, Franzen told investigators she was planning to take the pipe bomb to a friend to be made safe and had been driving with it in her car for the last two weeks, authorities said. She said the bomb belonged to an ex-boyfriend and she had not wanted to take it to police.

Franzen said she had dropped off a friend at work earlier in the morning and was driving around “to clear her head” as she had a headache, according to the statement. At some point, she parked her car and fell asleep.

The sheriff’s office said there was no indication Franzen intended to bring the bomb to a specific location or to cause harm with it.

“At this time there is not reason to believe there are additional devices or that there is any further threat to the public,” the sheriff’s office said related to Saturday’s incident.

Franzen was being held at the Porter County Jail without bond because she was out on bail from a previous arrest at the time, according to the sheriff’s office.

Authorities said the incident was not related to the explosion of a pipe bomb Wednesday evening at a U.S. Post Office branch in East Chicago, Indiana. That explosion injured a postal employee and is under investigation by the FBI.