A 39-year-old Arkansas man was arrested on election day after he allegedly made more than 40 calls to CNN headquarters, some of which included death threats against CNN anchor Don Lemon.
Benjamin Craig Matthews of Mountain Home faces five felony counts of terroristic threatening, nine misdemeanor counts of harassing communications and four misdemeanor counts of second-degree terroristic threatening. He was being held in the Baxter County jail in lieu of a $15,000 bond.
Authorities in Atlanta say the calls to CNN began on Oct. 31. Matthews allegedly made three calls to the network that day. In one of the calls, Matthews reportedly threatened to beat up Lemon. During another that day, Matthews was reportedly verbally abusive with an operator.
Matthews is accused of calling the network the next day six times in the span of 23 minutes. During one of the calls Matthews reportedly asked to be directed to Lemon’s “dead body hanging from a tree.”
During another call in that short span, Matthews reportedly asked the operator to help kill Lemon.
One Nov. 2, Matthews is accused of placing another six calls to the network during another 23-minute time span. In three of those calls, Matthews is accused of asking his calls be directed to “pipe bombs for Don Lemon.”
An Atlanta Police Department investigator assigned to the Department of Homeland Security was able to track the phone and reportedly learned it belonged to Matthews. The investigator, M.J. Condland,then contacted the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office.
Brad Hurst, an investigator with the Sheriff’s Office, took the case and spoke with an individual who knows, according to an affidavit filed in the case. That individual reportedly identified Matthews’ voice in recordings CNN made of the phone calls.
During Condland’s investigation of the incident, he reportedly discovered Matthews had made calls to U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., attorney Michael Avenatti, the Washington Speakers Bureau and Planned Parenthood.
The affidavit noted Matthews’ alleged calls appeared to suggest a pattern of harassment based on certain political beliefs.
The four felony counts of terroristic threatening that Matthews faces are Class D felonies punishable by up to six years each in prison upon conviction.
The affidavit filed in Baxter County Circuit Court does not mention if investigators spoke with Matthews regarding a motive for the phone calls. Electronic court records in Baxter County do not show any other felony cases against Matthews.