Nowak’s life came crumbing down in 2007 after she was arrested in Florida. At the time, she was a well-known Navy captain and her arrest came as a shock. Her crime? Attempting to kidnap US Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman.
Shipman had recently begun a romance with William Oefelein. Coincidentally, Nowak was also romantically linked of Oefelein – she was having an affair with him while she was still married to her husband. Oefelein broke off their relationship at the end of 2006 and started seeing Shipman.
After discovering her old flame was now warming Shipman’s bed, Nowak drove close to 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando to confront the unsuspecting woman in person. She knew Shipman was landing that evening at the Orlando airport, and Nowak was determined to get there at the same time, allegedly driving 14 hours in an adult diaper so she wouldn’t have to stop along the way.
Shipman knew nothing of Nowak’s past affair with William Oefelein and was taken by surprise when she noticed someone following her in the dark parking lot. She could hear the swishing sound of Nowak’s pants as she gained on her, and Shipman dashed to her car and locked herself inside. Beating on her window, Nowak then fabricated a story about being a helpless traveler who was lost in the dark. Despite the oddity of this situation, Shipman cracked her window to hear more before being doused in the face with pepper spray. “She blasted me with what felt like acid,” Shipman said. “So, I stomped on the gas and wondered if there was a gun pointed at my head.”
At a later hearing in 2007, police testifed they searched Nowak’s vehicle after the attack and found maps of the area and the airport layout, as well as a letter Nowak apparently wrote to her ex-lover Oefelein’s mother. And apparently, they also found much, much worse.
Duffel Bag Full Of Weapons
Lisa Nowak’s actions when she arrived in Orlando suggested she planned to do a lot more than just talk to Colleen Shipman. Surveillance cameras caught Nowak wearing a wig and an oversized trench coat as she followed Shipman from the terminal to her car. Police would later find a duffel bag full of incriminating evidence in Nowak’s car – a BB gun, a four-inch knife, surgical tubing, and a steel mallet. Along with the weapons, they also found a stash of used and clean diapers. Police arrested her a short time later in the same parking lot as she tried to dump her disguises in a trash can.
She Planned To Live Happily Ever After Until She Was Dumped
Oefelein and Nowak had met two years earlier during a winter training exercise for NASA in Canada. Although Oeflein was divorced at the time, they began a steamy affair while Nowak was still married – making their connection illegal in the eyes of the military. Keeping their relationship a secret as she she prepared for her 2006 trip into space wasn’t easy, and the pressure of her crumbling home life and high-maintenance career began to take its toll. She was quickly falling apart on the inside.
According to a psychologist at her trial, “I would think that the stressors that she had, while having to be this super-mom taking care of three kids at the same time, gearing up for a mission that was very much in the public eye in the wake of the Columbia tragedy, would be extraordinarily stressful.” When Oefelein called off the affair and said he just wanted to be friends, Nowak was devastated. Based on the contents of a letter she wrote to his mother during their affair, she was deeply in love and planned to leave her husband for Oefelein. “I love him more than I knew possible,” Nowak wrote to his mother. “Thank you very much for being there for me and us!” It was clear Nowak believed they were going to be together forever, that is until Colleen Shipman came along.
Victim Had No Idea She Was A Threat
Colleen Shipman was 29 when she met Bill Oefelein at a house party in Orlando. She found him to be handsome, charming, and polite, so she enjoyed his attention that evening. The two hit it off, and she was impressed by his role as a notable astronaut with a shining career. But she would soon find out Oefelein also came with romantic baggage, namely Lisa Nowak with whom he had just broken up. Shipman had no idea about the bizarre love triangle she would become part of with Nowak. Although Oefelein told Shipman about his past affair, he kept Nowak’s identity secret and promised the relationship was over. “He didn’t mention any names or anything, and he said, ‘I had this talk with her and we’re going to remain friends. But there’s no romance there or anything,'” Shipman said.
When Oefelein returned from his space trip, Shipman traveled from Florida to Houston to visit him. According to her, “It was a celebration. We were pretty much inseparable once he got back.” Shipman soon left for a flight home to Orlando with no idea that Lisa Nowak had left earlier that same night in a BMW headed for Florida. With the flight information stolen from Oefelein’s computer, Nowak was armed with a bag of weapons, pepper spray, and a nefarious plan to make her enemy pay.
Nowak had reason to be jealous – her ex-lover was mad for Colleen Shipman and there was nothing she could do about it. They had been exchanging steamy text and emails for months, and Nowak was sure they were having an affair. She had kept the key to Oefelein’s apartment and let herself in before the attack, using the computer passwords she knew Nowak read through his private emails. According to a reporter, “Lisa let herself in, and looked into his computer and saw not only some of the steamy e-mails but she also found a flight itinerary.” This was when Nowak knew what she had to do.
Ruined Her Shining Career
Nowak was ultimately charged with attempted kidnapping, battery, attempted vehicle burglary, and destruction of evidence. Despite the nature of her crime, Nowak only served two days in jail and was given probation. She was “less-than-honorably” discharged from the Navy and kicked out of the space program. She also fell in rank, losing her role as Captain for the lowlier title of Commander – a shift that affected her pay grade and her pension. She remained composed during this decision and did not publicly comment, although it was obvious she was close to tears.
But Shipman, who was the victim in the crime, also suffered professionally as a result of the attack and was unofficially demoted by the Air Force. “I had always been the good kid. It was really hurtful. It seemed like everything I did was under a microscope,” she said.
Lawyers Claimed There Was No Evidence And No Diaper
Her Lawyer tried to argue they had no solid evidence and that the Diaper part wasn’t true. She had admitted, however, to wearing a diaper when questioned by police as a way to avoid bathroom stops along the way. But apparently she did stop, as police later found a receipt in her car proving she had paid cash to sleep briefly at a Days Inn halfway between Houston and Orlando. Diaper or not, it is this one lingering detail that has been permanently seared into the public memory.
Believe it or not, her colleges seemed to have her back through all of this. They said Our primary focus is her health and well-being and taking care of her and keeping her safe and getting her with her family so they can deal with this very private and difficult matter.” (Guess I’d be worried too if my co worker obviously had a mental break)
Accused of attempted kidnapping with intent to inflict bodily harm and burglary of a vehicle using a weapon. Now she could’ve been given a life sentence for this, now given that she had no prior record and her position at NASA she took a guilty plea to avoid going to prison. She was only given a year of probation. In addition to this punishment, Nowak was assigned 50 hours of community service and the task of writing an apology letter to her victim. Nowak was also forced to complete an eight-hour anger management course within the first 30 days of her probation and some further counseling.
The Victim actually had a hard time after the attack, the stress and anxiety of it all was a lot to deal with. She began to carry a concealed weapon to protect herself. It is said the victim and her family after 9 long years they have forgiven Nowak and is now at peace with it all.
Now she shall be the astronaut who decided shitting herself rather than stopping in a bathroom.. I get she was in a hurry, but man that’s gross. Pretty sure anyone who wears an adult diaper by choice may have some mental issues.
I know this isn’t my usual post, but it was attempted murder. It could’ve been a lot worse, I do not think the sentence for this crime is fair, I mean if i had been attacked and then they slap em on the wrist? Nope, the lady should probably be locked away somewhere she can’t hurt anyone or wear adult diapers.