- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The space shuttle pilot at the center of a bizarre love triangle that has astronaut Lisa Nowak, a U.S. Navy captain, facing attempted kidnapping charges told detectives that Capt. Nowak “seemed a little disappointed” but accepting when he told her that he was dating another woman, court records released yesterday show.

That conversation was in January. On Feb. 5, Capt. Nowak drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando to confront the other woman.

Police say Capt. Nowak, a mother of three, donned a wig and followed U.S. Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman from an airport terminal to her car to confront her, then pepper sprayed her through a cracked window when Capt. Shipman wouldn’t unlock the door. Police who arrested Capt. Nowak and searched her car reported finding a BB gun, a new steel mallet, a knife and rubber tubing.

Capt. Nowak, 43, pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping and burglary with assault and was released on bail with an ankle monitoring device.

Investigation documents released by the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office shed some light on the astronauts’ relationships.

They include the conversations with detectives of shuttle pilot Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein about his romantic relationship with Capt. Nowak starting in 2004 and how she reacted with no emotion when he said he was dating another woman.

“She seemed a little disappointed, but she seemed to be accepting of that,” Cmdr. Oefelein told detectives, according to the documents.

The documents also include an undated letter to Cmdr. Oefelein’s mother in which Capt. Nowak wrote that she was taking steps to divorce her husband so she could be with Cmdr. Oefelein.

“Bill is absolutely the best person I’ve ever known and I love him more than I knew possible,” Capt. Nowak wrote.

A NASA spokesman didn’t return a call seeking comment yesterday.

Since her arrest, Capt. Nowak has told police that her relationship with Cmdr. Oefelein was more than professional but less than romantic. Cmdr. Oefelein, 41, told investigators that they had been romantically involved since 2004.

Capt. Nowak’s frantic road trip to confront Capt. Shipman may have been sparked after she uncovered steamy e-mails that Capt. Shipman sent to Cmdr. Oefelein, including one he received during his mission aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in December, according to documents released Monday. The e-mails do not mention Capt. Nowak.

“First urge will be to rip your clothes off,” Capt. Shipman wrote to Cmdr. Oefelein. “But honestly, love, I want you to totally and thoroughly enjoy your hero’s homecoming.”

In the letter to Cmdr. Oefelein’s mother, Capt. Nowak thanked her for supporting her relationship with Cmdr. Oefelein, “especially since my parents are not as supportive right now.”

“It really means a lot to me to have another mom to turn to,” Capt. Nowak wrote. She and her husband separated recently after 19 years of marriage.

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