NASA astronaut cleared of muder charges

…but she is still accused of attempted kidnapping.

NASA astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak has been cleared of attempted murder charges, but she is still accused of attempted kidnapping.

Lisa Nowak, 43, also faces charges of attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery. According to a police affidavit, Nowak drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando, disguised in a wig and a trench coat and armed with a BB gun, pepper spray and other equipment. Nowak believed that Colleen Shipman, an Air Force captain stationed at Patrick Air Force Base near the Kennedy Space Center, was a rival for the affections of Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, according to the affidavit.

Nowak confronted Shipman at Orlando International Airport’s parking lot. She allegedly had a steel mallet, a brand new four-inch knife and rubber tubing, Jones said.

According to the affidavit, Shipman told police that she spotted Nowak stalking her in an airport shuttle. Shipman entered her car and became particularly alarmed when Nowak slapped on the window and attempted to open the door.

“Can you help me please?” Nowak allegedly asked Shipman. “My boyfriend was supposed to pick me up and he is not here.” Shipman told police that she refused, but opened her window about two inches. At that point, according to Shipman, Nowak sprayed her with a chemical substance, apparently pepper spray. Shipman drove hurriedly away and called police.

Within a few minutes, police officers detained Nowak, who matched a description provided by Shipman. During the search they found a folding knife with a four-inch blade, six Latex gloves, at least three feet of rubber tubing and several large garbage bags in Nowak’s car.

“Nowak said that she just wanted to talk to the victim,” said Barbara Jones, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department. “But everything we found associated with it puts it in a different perspective than `I just want to talk to you.'”

Lisa Nowak, 43, is married and has three children, a 14-year-old son and twin 5-year-old daughters. Her husband, Richard, works for NASA as a flight controller.

According to the police report, Nowak said she and Oefelein were involved in a relationship that “was categorized as more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship.”

Florida prosecutors yesterday formally charged Nowak with trying to kidnap Shipman, 30, the girlfriend of US Navy pilot and NASA astronaut Commander Bill Oefelein, 41.

When she was arrested Nowak, an acclaimed astronaut who spent 11 years with NASA, told police she had “more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship” with Commander Oefelein.

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