FBI agents search Paula Broadwell's home

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.The Charlotte Observer,Pam Kelley,Elisabeth ArrieroJoe Person and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

Three days after Paula Broadwell of Charlotte emerged at the center of national controversy, FBI agents spent four hours Monday night searching her family’s Dilworth home.

While investigating an email harassment complaint over the summer and this fall, the FBI had found classified information on Broadwell’s computer. The FBI concluded the information did not come from David Petraeus, who was CIA director until his sudden resignation Friday.

The FBI has said no charges are expected related to the email harassment or Petraeus himself, but the agency has not said whether they are finished investigating Broadwell. Monday night’s search indicates the investigation continues.

About eight to 10 agents brought cardboard boxes used for carrying papers and were on both floors of the home for the search, which began shortly before 9 p.m. About two dozen members of the local and national media gathered. It wasn’t immediately clear what the agents were focused on. The search ended at 1:09 a.m. Tuesday.

The agents appeared to start their search in the kitchen at the rear of the house, turning on lights as they moved into different rooms. Two hours into the search, lights appeared to be turned on in most rooms. After midnight, an agent walked out of the kitchen and retrieved boxes from a Chevy Malibu parked outside. She didn’t comment.

Just after 1 a.m., about eight FBI agents came out of the house with a half-dozen file boxes, a Dell PC, an iMac, a briefcase and a printer. The agents left at 1:09 a.m. The agents declined to comment on what they found.

Broadwell’s apparent affair with Petraeus, who is also married, led him to resign Friday. Broadwell’s Charlotte neighbor Sarah Curme said Monday that Broadwell, her husband and two young sons were doing pretty well considering the circumstances. Broadwell marked her 40th birthday over the weekend with family in Washington, D.C.

“They’re trying to bring some order to something that’s very messy right now,” said Curme, who picked up the family’s newspapers.

Despite Broadwell’s high-profile life as an author and public speaker, her days in Charlotte resembled those of many busy working mothers, another Charlotte friend said.

That friend says the Broadwell she knows is nothing like the person being portrayed as a jealous mistress who sent harassing emails.

“I don’t know if I don’t believe it, or I don’t want to believe it,” said the friend, who declined to be named. Though she had lunch with Broadwell just over a week ago, she had no sense that anything was amiss.

The woman, one of a group of Broadwell’s mom friends, describes Broadwell as a devoted mother who has a natural rapport with children. Often, she said, their group of friends socializes at their children’s activities, such as birthday parties and sports. And they keep each other’s kids when child-care needs arise.

When it was time to sign their kids up for summer camps this year, they gathered at Broadwell’s house to organize car pools. Like most moms of young kids, Broadwell’s friend says, their conversations typically revolve around children.

In a January interview with the Observer, Broadwell talked about how much she relied on her husband, friends and family to help with child care while she wrote her book, “All In: The Education of General Petraeus.”

Curme said the family plans to return to Charlotte in the next couple of days, although she wasn’t sure exactly when.

Broadwell’s two sons will need to return to school and her husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell, needs to return to work as a radiologist, Curme said.

“They just want things to die down,” she said. Curme hopes they can once again enjoy being home and having a normal routine.

Before the scandal broke, Broadwell often ran in her Dilworth neighborhood and socialized with neighbors.

“They seemed like any other family in the neighborhood who’s busy with the kids,” Curme said.

Monday morning, a couple of television news trucks were stationed outside the Broadwell home. A few joggers and walkers passed. At one point, a FedEx worker knocked on the door with a package. He ended up leaving a note.

Curme said the Broadwells will survive the scandal.

“Knowing both of them, I suspect they will join forces and work through this,” Curme said. “It might take a while but they’ll come out on the other side.”

Staff writer Pam Kelley, staff photographer Davie Hinshaw, staff researcher Maria David, WCNC-TV and the Associated Press contributed.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Pam Kelley and Elisabeth Arriero
Charlotte Observer