Star Simpson, 19, left court after her arraignment yesterday in Boston. Riding with her was boyfriend Tim Anderson.
‘Fake bomb’ was mistake, according to Maui mom
Parents ‘overwrought’ by teen’s airport bomb scare
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Star Simpson probably went to a Boston airport yesterday mistakenly wearing a shirt she wore the day before that had a computer circuit board that security officials thought was a bomb, said her mother.
Stephanie Simpson said Star put on the shirt when she was going to pick up her boyfriend at the airport.
Star Simpson, 19, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering student, was arrested and charged yesterday for bringing what appeared to be a bomb to the Logan International Airport in Boston. The device turned out to be a computer circuit board attached to a 9-volt battery on a black hooded sweatshirt.
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The computer circuit board on Star Simpson's sweatshirt that security thought may have been a bomb at a Boston airport isn't out of character for her, according to the Maui woman's background, school affiliations and online supporters.
But her mother, Stephanie Simpson, said it may have been a mistake because Star used the shirt the day before on career day at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and when she went to pick up her boyfriend at the airport. "It was just sleepyheads. She must have been just asleep to the fact of where she was going," Stephanie Simpson said.
But Stephanie Simpson said it was an important lesson for her daughter. "You can be shot if you're that stupid to come up to the airport with something like that," Simpson said by phone from her Maui home. "She's going to have to learn from this experience." Star Simpson, 19, an MIT engineering student, was arrested and charged yesterday for bringing what appeared to be a bomb to the Logan International Airport in Boston. The device turned out to be a circuit board attached to a 9-volt battery on a black hooded sweatshirt.
The rear of a sweatshirt worn by Star Simpson was shown at a news conference yesterday at Logan International Airport in Boston.
Simpson, a former captain of the Hawaii Preparatory Academy's robotics team, claims it to be artwork she wanted to show off for career day, the latest creation in a long string of gadgets and experiments for the engineering enthusiast.
Stephanie Simpson said her daughter is not someone who has ill will or malice, but "lives and breathes in the workshop" to build robotics.
Simpson's father, Gene "Mauka" Simpson, a freelance photojournalist who has done work for the Star-Bulletin and other media, spoke to her over the phone yesterday.
He said she sounded OK and that he and his wife were "overwrought by this experience." He didn't want to comment on the incident, but said, "she's the kind of girl who can build her own robot from the ground up."
Simpson was a 2006 graduate of HPA. She received numerous honors and was also captain of the swim team. She currently holds the school records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, said school public relations director Phyllis Kanekuni.
"Star was an exemplary student and athlete," she said. "She was incredibly hardworking, enthusiastic about learning and very humble and courteous."
The front of a sweatshirt bearing a computer circuit board and wiring.
Founded in 1949, Hawaii Preparatory Academy is a private college-prep school on the Big Island. Simpson transferred there from Maui in the seventh grade.
The self-described inventor, artist and engineer is a prominent user on Instructables.com, a project of Squid Labs, an engineering firm out of California, where, according to her Web profile, she was an intern this summer. One of the comments left on her Web site profile, followed by a smiling emoticon (a computer icon expressing an emotion), asked, "Where's the guide on making a 'hoax device?'"
Others left words of encouragement and wishes for her to "stay strong."
A forum post on the Web site is asking suggestions on how to make stickers to make circuit boards less threatening, a sort of "geek protection."
According to gadget Web site Boingboing.net, Wired Magazine's Editor Chris Anderson said Star Simpson is a "world-class geek and otherwise cool person."
"Really sorry to see the lapse of judgment that led to this arrest, but I'm sure she's got a glorious career ahead of her regardless," Anderson said. HPA's Kanekuni said she hopes the arrest and charges don't get in the way of Simpson's studies.
"We just hope it can be resolved quickly so she can proceed with her very bright future," Kanekuni said.
Star-Bulletin reporter Robert Shikina contributed to this report.