Two anonymous tipsters, an Instagram post and a photo comparison led the FBI to break down the door of a Homer couple’s home last week, according to a search warrant unsealed Wednesday.
The FBI had hoped to find a laptop stolen from the office of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. Rioters invaded the Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s win in the November presidential election, and federal law enforcement officers have pursued charges against hundreds of people accused of participating in the insurrection that left five people dead.
Paul and Marilyn Hueper attended a pro-Trump rally that preceded the riot and went to the Capitol but never entered the building, they said, attributing the FBI search to a case of mistaken identity.
The FBI’s search warrant says its interest in the Huepers, who own the Homer Inn & Spa, began in February when an unnamed tipster informed the FBI about an Instagram post by Paul Hueper.
That post, made on Jan. 10, shows Marilyn from behind, walking up stairs toward the U.S. Capitol while wearing a puffy black coat. Paul’s caption said in part: “Marilyn approaching the Capital. As Patriots, there is a righteous revolution to take back our country. Keep praying ... we are only getting stronger and will not quit till our country is restored. To be there was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
On Wednesday, Paul Hueper said, “By no means do I condone the bad players who went into the Capitol.”
He said that when he referred to a “righteous revolution,” he was referring to his hope that the country allows more individual freedoms.
“I was excited to see a million people there protesting the results of the election,” he said.
The couple said the photo was taken around 3:30 p.m.
“We were told we could go in. But that sounded like a really bad idea,” Marilyn Hueper said.
She said she was surprised when she arrived at the Capitol and was told by fellow Trump supporters that they could go into the Capitol.
“I’m like, what? They’re like, ‘Yeah, you just get in that line there. There’s the line, just get in the line.’ I’m like, I don’t think so. I don’t think we’re gonna do that. There’s people coming out with blood on them and stuff,” she said.
The tipster contacted the FBI on Feb. 24 in connection to a Feb. 17 incident in which the Huepers were banned from flying on Alaska Airlines because they failed to follow masking rules.
“We can confirm the Huepers were banned in February due to non-mask compliance. Alaska and federal policy requires all guests to wear masks throughout their journey. As a policy, we do not comment on the status of individual passengers or related federal investigations,” said Tim Thompson, a spokesman for Alaska Airlines.
The unnamed FBI tipster said Marilyn Hueper looked like a woman seen in surveillance camera video and third-party video from within the Capitol. In those images, an unidentified woman is seen entering Pelosi’s office and disconnecting cables from a laptop, which is then removed from its desk by an unidentified man.
That woman was wearing a black puffy coat similar to the one Hueper wore, and she had a similar hairstyle.
“I have a black puffy coat like that. That’s the only thing I had, that resembled hers. And somehow, they managed not to take that,” she said.
When questioned during the FBI’s search of her home April 28, Hueper said she noted that the woman resembled her but pointed out key differences in their appearance in multiple photos.
The warrant says the woman in the Capitol was wearing a distinctive metallic thumb ring. Hueper said she doesn’t own one and doesn’t wear one.
According to the warrant, the FBI compared the surveillance images to the photo from Hueper’s driver’s license and “confirmed” it was her. A second tipster, who said they knew Hueper personally, contacted the FBI on March 23 and “confirmed she is the person in photographs 225A and B,” the warrant said.
The warrant does not include any cellphone location data showing them inside the Capitol; other FBI warrants related to the Jan. 6 riot have included such data.