Bombing Suspect Gives Up After 17 Years on the Lam

Associated Press

A woman wanted for 17 years in connection with two bank bombings during protests against the Vietnam War said she turned herself in so her three sons could lead a normal life.

“I’m here to clear my name and to simplify my family’s life,” said Mary Kathleen Brooks, 37, as she entered a heavily guarded courtroom in Alameda County Superior Court Wednesday. “I’m here on my own free will.”

Brooks, the mother of sons ages 17, 13 and 11, surrendered after months of negotiations between her lawyer and prosecutors. She is being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.


“She is devoted to her children and did this for the oldest child,” said Brooks’ attorney, Penelope Cooper, who was with her client. “She wanted to make sure he would have a chance to go to college wherever he chooses.”

Brooks was wanted on a federal warrant for unlawful flight from prosecution and two counts of possession with intent to use destructive devices.

Authorities allege she planted a bomb that blew out the front windows and tore off the wood siding at a Bank of America branch in Berkeley. She is also charged with a bombing that caused slight damage to the offices of Security Pacific National Bank in Berkeley. No one was injured in the blasts, which took place in the early morning hours.

At one time, authorities in Canada, Spain, France, Luxembourg and England were hunting for Brooks, according to the FBI.

Neither Cooper nor Brooks’ sister, Joanna Rinaldi, who accompanied her to court, would say where Brooks spent her years underground or why she chose to turn herself in.

Brooks’ former boyfriend, Don Louis Church, 45, was also charged in the bombings and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty.


In 1971, Church was an unemployed psychologist who lived with Brooks in Oakland. Police said he and Brooks became suspects after a suspicious hardware store clerk told officers the couple purchased pipe and other materials that could be used to make a bomb.

Church was arrested a few weeks later near the University of California campus in Berkeley but fled after nine months in custody after posting $10,000 bond.

He was arrested again in 1983 in Benton County, Ark., when he allegedly attempted to pick up $6 million worth of cocaine at a mini-storage locker he rented, police said.