The woman who sent white powder packages and issued bomb threats to schools and businesses in Saskatoon over a five-month span has been sentenced to two years behind bars after pleading guilty.
Alexa Emerson, formerly known as Amanda Totchek, made the plea at Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench during a hearing Wednesday afternoon.
Emerson was facing a total of 81 criminal charges related to the string of deliveries and threats between November 2016 and April 2017. The charges included harassment, criminal mischief, uttering threats and violating probation conditions.
Justice Gerald Allbright accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence on sentencing, ordering Emerson to serve two years in a provincial facility, along with three years of probation.
With credit for her time spent in remand, Emerson will serve 115 days behind bars.
The 33-year-old’s charges cover incidents spanning from September 2016 to the end of April 2017, with most targets involving her ex-boyfriends or people connected to them.
“We didn’t ask for this. We welcomed her into our lives,” one of the victims said in an impact statement read to court.
“Obviously we were wrong.”
Another impact statement from an ex who has dealt with harassment from Emerson since 2013 called her “the most evil, manipulative person I’ve ever met.”
According to an agreed statement of facts submitted to the court, the spree began when Emerson and her boyfriend of five months broke up.
She began sending threatening messages to herself and family members of the ex-boyfriend, posing as other people and complaining to police about the threats. She also made complaints to social services about how her ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife was treating their son, which were determined to be unfounded.
On Oct. 2, 2016, Emerson sent videos to several of her ex-boyfriends and family members that depicted her being abducted by a man named “James” accompanied with messages telling one of the exes “Emerson’s blood would be on his hands.”
The public incidents began on Nov. 29, 2016, when packages with white powder were sent to five businesses across Saskatoon.
The statement of facts read in court said the packages were accompanied by a message saying “In this letter is Anthrax, try not to inhale, Merry Christmas.”
Two of the targets, Shark Club and Cut Steakhouse, were where Emerson had worked. The three other businesses were connected to her ex-boyfriends.
She was arrested a day later, and subsequently released on bail and ordered to live with family in Alberta.
Buena Vista School Principal Darrin Sinnett submitted a victim impact statement to the court, saying he was terrified while waiting for hazmat crews to determine the white powder delivered to his office was harmless.
He noted children were scared, and required several conversations with teachers and parents to feel safe.
“A sacred trust was broken when the school was targeted,” he said.
The case drew additional intrigue after a North Carolina woman appeared in a video appearing to confess to the crime spree. The woman told Gormley in July 2017 she was hired through a website to read a script, and she didn’t know the video’s intention.
However, the statement of facts indicates eight more threats were made via email after her arrest to Global Saskatoon, the city’s three hospitals, Sask. Polytechnic, Ernst & Young, Aden Bowman Collegiate, Hague Elementary School, the University of Saskatchewan and Warman High School.
In total, Crown prosecutor Jennifer Claxton-Viczko said 17 businesses, schools and hospitals were affected, with several of the locations being targeted multiple times.
She estimated the emergency responses and lost business due to evacuations and investigations have cost in excess of $200,000, though no financial restitution was sought in the criminal case.
“She doesn’t have the resources to pay it, the court isn’t going to order her to pay it,” Caxton-Viczko said outside the courthouse.
Justice Allbright did order Emerson to observe a curfew between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and banned her from possessing or using any electronic device with an internet connection for the first eight months of her probation.
She is also mandated to meet with doctors and mental health professionals as directed by her probation officer.
Allbright warned her not to attempt similar incidents in the future.
“I want you to know Ms. Emerson, the authorities know who you are and where you live,” he said.
“You can safely assume someone is watching what you do.”
Emerson changed her name from Amanda Totchek after previously pleading guilty in 2015 to a harassment campaign against an ex-boyfriend who was also targeted in her most recent spree.