Indictment alleges Champaign County woman planned training class to oppose Biden election

Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl. Photo courtesy Miami Valley Jails.
Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl. Photo courtesy Miami Valley Jails.

A Champaign County woman indicted in federal court in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots told a potential recruit that their way of life would be over if then President-elect Joe Biden became president, and it was their duty to fight, kill and die for their rights, according to an indictment filed in the case.

Jessica Watkins, 38, along with Donovan Crowl, 50, and Virginia resident Thomas Caldwell, 65, are facing charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds. The indictment filed in the case alleges the three were co-conspirators who planned to disrupt the Congressional proceedings that sought to certify the presidential election in favor of Biden and Kamala Harris.

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A call to attorneys representing Watkins and Crowl were not returned Friday afternoon. An attorney for Caldwell wasn’t listed in the case.

The indictment filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia says Watkins sent text messages on Nov. 9 to a number of individuals who said they may want to join the Ohio State Regular Militia.

“In these messages, Watkins mentioned, among other things, that the militia had a week-long ‘Basic Training class coming up in the beginning of January’ and Watkins told one recruit ‘I need you fighting fit by innaugeration [sic].’” the indictment says. “Watkins told another individual ‘It’s a military style basic, here in Ohio, with a Marine Drill Sergeant running it. An hour north of Columbus, Ohio[.]’”

The indictment says when a recruit asked Watkins on Nov. 17 about her predictions for 2021, Watkins replied:

“I can’t predict. I don’t underestimate the resolve of the Deep State. Biden may still yet be our President. If he is, our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights,” the indictment says.

The indictment says Watkins, Crowl and Caldwell then planned their trip to Washington D.C. for Jan. 6. In one text message sent Nov. 23, Caldwell allegedly told Watkins “I believe we will have to get violent to stop this,” noting Antifa members “who are sure to come out en masse even if we get the Prez for 4 more years. Stay sharp and we will meet again,” the indictment says.

On Jan. 1, Caldwell allegedly wrote to Crowl that he recommended a hotel in Arlington, the indictment says. The indictment says that Watkins rented a room at the hotel under the name “Jessica Wagkins.”

Authorities then said the Watkins and Crowl were together during the Jan. 6 riots. The indictment alleges that they equipped themselves “for battle” before heading to the Capital by carrying communication devices and wearing reinforced vests, helmets and goggles. It says they joined others wearing Oath Keepers clothing and patches.

“At approximately 2:40 p.m., Crowl, Watkins and this line of individuals forcibly entered the Capitol building,” the indictment says. “As they entered the Capitol, Crowl, Watkins and this line of individuals joined the larger crowd in pushing past at least one law enforcement officer who appeared to be trying to stop the crowd.”

The indictment says Watkins used a communication application to alert others that she was with 30 to 40 people. An unknown male replied:

“You are executing citizen’s arrest. Arrest this assembly, we have probable cause for acts of treason, election fraud,” the indictment says. Watkins says that the group was being shot with paintballs and a person replied that this was “everything we [expletive] trained for.”

The indictment said that Caldwell wrote in Facebook messages that he was with a group surging forward and got inside the Capitol.

Explore2 Champaign County residents held on federal charges tied to Capitol riot

The indictment also says that the three continued communication after the Jan. 6 events. Caldwell allegedly described his experience as ‘storming the castle’ and said it was a “good time.”

“Also on the evening of January 6, 2021, Caldwell sent a message to Crowl stating ‘we need to do this at the local level. Lets storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!’”

The indictment says Watkins and Crowl returned back to Ohio after Jan. 6 and then traveled to Caldwell’s home in Virginia on Jan. 14 after media identified them as participants of the riot.

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