Sydney teen freed by bomb squad; police determine bomb fake

Laura Rozen

Editor's Note: This post has been updated since publication to reflect news developments.

Sydney police have determined that the device from which an Australian teenage girl was freed Wednesday was not a bomb, but an elaborate fake, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Madeleine Pulver, 18, told police "a stranger wearing a balaclava had placed the device around her neck after breaking into her family's multimillion-dollar" home in the Sydney suburb of Mosman, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. She was freed by a bomb squad some ten hours later.

New South Wales State Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch told journalists Thursday however that it had been determined the device was not a bomb, but an "elaborate" fake.

"A very, very elaborate hoax as it turned out," Murdoch said Thursday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. "But it was made and certainly gave the appearance of a legitimate improvised explosive device."

"It was affixed to her by a chain or something similar, which eventually took us a fair while to remove ... and that added to the trauma that Madeleine experienced and prolonged," Murdoch said.

Police were still trying to determine who had placed the device and why.

Police were called to the home at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. It took bomb defusal specialists ten hours to free Pulver from the device.

Madeleine's father, Bill Pulver, is CEO of a software and linguistics services firm, Appen Butler Hill.

The Pulver family previously lived in New York, where Bill Pulver served as the CEO of NetRatings, part of the Nielson ratings firm, Australia's Sun-Herald reported.

"It is thought someone unknown to the girl is responsible for putting the device on her neck, and speculation is that it may be linked to an extortion attempt," Nine News reported.

The girl, who celebrated her 18th birthday just three weeks ago, was reported to be very calm through the ordeal. She was "cooperating with police and bomb squad officers to defuse the device," the Herald-Sun reported.