In an embarrassing about-face, federal prosecutors abruptly dropped criminal charges against an Indiana man who they accused of bugging his ex-wife’s automobile.
The FBI last Friday arrested David Voelkert, 38, largely on the basis of messages the South Bend man recently exchanged with a purported 17-year-old Facebook friend named “Jessica Studebaker.”
In fact, the “Studebaker” account was created last month by Voelkert’s ex-wife Angela, 29, in an apparent bid to extract information she could use against him in an ongoing child custody fight.
As described in an FBI affidavit, David Voelkert’s Facebook correspondence with “Studebaker” included an admission that he had placed a GPS device in his ex-wife’s vehicle to surreptitiously monitor her movements. He also wrote about his desire to “find someone to take care of” Angela, and told “Studebaker” that “you should find someone at your school…that would put a cap in her ass for $10,000.”
For her part, Angela Voelkert sought to use the Facebook exchanges against her ex-husband. In a June 1 Superior Court application for a restraining order against him, Voelkert attached several pages of Facebook messages exchanged between “Studebaker” and David Voelkert. The messages showed her ex-husband telling “Studebaker” about the tracking device, as well as his concern the teenager could “get arrested as an accessory to all this.”
Voelkert spent four days in custody until federal prosecutors moved yesterday to drop charges against him. He was freed after proving to investigators that he knew all along that his ex-wife was the one sending him messages from the “Studebaker” account. Voelkert explained that he played along with the ruse so that he could use his ex-spouse’s machinations against her in their custody case.
To support this contention, Voelkert provided FBI agents with a May 25 notarized affidavit in which he describes receiving a friend request from “Jessica Studebaker,” whom he suspected was his ex-wife. “I am lying to this person,” he stated, “to gain positive proof that it is indeed my ex-wife trying to again tamper in my life.” He added, “In no way do I have plans to leave with my children or do any harm to Angela Dawn Voelkert or anyone else.”
The allegedly incriminating Facebook messages sent by Voelkert came on May 31, six days after his sworn affidavit was notarized. Voelkert kept one copy of the affidavit, and gave a relative a second copy for safekeeping.
Federal investigators, who interviewed the bank employee who notarized the affidavit on May 25, confirmed that the document was authentic, triggering the government motion yesterday to dismiss Voelkert’s case. “The request is based upon information learned in the government’s ongoing investigation of the case,” wrote prosecutor Jesse Barrett, who declined to comment about the matter when contacted by a TSG reporter.
Magistrate Judge Christopher Nuechterlein yesterday signed an order dismissing the case against Voelkert.
The “Studebaker” account remains on Facebook and includes the above image of an unknown girl. The profile claims that she is 17, has worked at Subway, and attends James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend. In a May 24 post, “Studebaker” claimed to be “Sittin in study hall bored out of my freakin mind.”
At press time, she currently has 63 friends, one of whom remains David Voelkert.