Donna Jean Willmott
Added May 22nd, 1987; Surrendered December 6th, 1994
A member of the Weather Underground – the radical activist movement that was known for using violence as an effective means of protesting societal constructs like racism, sexism, classism, as well as the Vietnam War – Donna Jean Willmott was charged in 1985 with buying and transporting explosives to blow up a maximum-security prison in Kansas. It was part of a plot to free Oscar Lopez, a leader of Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, a Puerto Rican separatist organization known for using violence to further their cause. The FBI originally located the pair when Marks bought what he believed to be 37 pounds of explosives from a merchant who was actually an undercover agent. When Marks and Willmott found an FBI monitoring device in their car, they and their future spouses fled and went underground. While she was wanted by the FBI as a terrorist, she transformed into Jo Elliott, a neighborhood fixture in her Pittsburgh community, volunteer with the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and Children's AIDS Project, doting mother and loyal friend.
In 1994, Willmott, along with Claude Daniel Marks, her partner in the 1985 crime who had been living a few blocks away under the name Greg Peters, turned themselves into federal authorities in Chicago after almost a year of negotiations. The two surrendered in December, and Willmott was sentenced to three years in prison that May. Marks was sentenced to six years due to his larger role in the plot.