NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A North Kingstown man was arrested Wednesday and charged with cyberstalking after an FBI investigation revealed he sent a series of violent and threatening emails to a college professor in Massachusetts.
Matthew Haviland, 30, was charged by complaint with cyberstalking and with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.
Eyewitness News was there as FBI investigators executed a search warrant at Haviland’s Chaucer Drive home.
According to United States Attorney Andrew Lelling, Haviland sent a string of approximately 28 emails containing threatening messages, including threats like, “I will rip every limb from your body and eat it, piece by piece.”
The complaint said the professor had previously published and spoken in favor of abortion rights, and Haviland’s emails made reference to abortion.
In one email, Haviland wrote, “You will be held accountable for every [expletive] baby you murdered through your horrible deception of they are not humans.”
Haviland also sent approximately 12 messages in March to the admissions office at the unnamed university where the professor works, touching upon race, gender and physical disability, according to the complaint.
“Simply put, words matter, and today’s arrest of Matthew Haviland should serve as a warning to others who think they can use the internet to terrorize people. Don’t do it,” Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph Bonavolonta said in a statement.
Haviland faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. At an initial appearance at federal court in Boston Wednesday afternoon, Haviland was ordered held without bail pending a probable cause hearing on Monday.
His attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Scott Lauer, declined to comment in an email.
According to an court affidavit, investigators said they spoke with two people who communicate with Haviland, and they expressed concern that his comments were becoming more volatile.
The document shows North Kingstown police visited Haviland’s home for a wellness check on five occasions between June 2018 and this month. Haviland told officers “he was only expressing his political views and has no intention of harming himself of anyone else. He admitted that some of his language had been strong.”
“The police recommended that Haviland think about the way his statements would be interpreted by those who read or heard them,” the affidavit said. “And Haviland agreed that he would.”
In the affidavit, prosecutors said Haviland expressed anger at how the news media portrayed President Trump.
“You are evil. Pure evil,” one email is quoted as saying. “All Democrats must be eradicated.”
“I want you to undergo endless agony until you’re dead,” investigators say he wrote to the professor in another email.
The document also states Haviland admitted to calling a “women’s medical center in Rhode Island” and leaving approximately 114 voicemail messages. The caller “spoke of babies being murdered and drew comparison between Nazis and a doctor who worked at the clinic.”