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By Golly, Emerson Begolly’s Mom a PSU Professor

The strange story of Emerson Begolly continues to develop as information about him and his family comes to light.

Emerson’s mother Joan Kowalski (formerly Joan Begolly) had been approached by FBI agents who expressed concern about her son’s online postings and made arrangements to get him out of his father’s house. His father, who reportedly had major disagreements with Emerson’s mother, had dressed Begolly in the Nazi uniform for pictures now spread widely on the Internet.

While Begolly was taken to a parking lot in New Bethlehem, PA under the auspices of visiting a sick relative, a search warrant was served on his father’s house, turning up more than 20 guns (mainly hunting rifles) and computer equipment. When Emerson and his mother arrived at the parking lot, his mother went in to a Burger King while a couple agents approached Emerson. The situation escalated with Begolly biting one of the agents and allegedly reaching towards a loaded handgun in his jacket.

A search was also conducted at Joan Kowalski’s house in Natrona Heights. Natrona Heights is just about ten miles from the Penn State New Kensington campus, where Begolly had previously taken classes before he transitioned to being a World Campus student.

Turns out that his mom is also a senior  instructor in engineering there. She teaches a mechanical engineering class on dynamics and another on the strength of materials. She also teaches a couple mechanics for technology courses.

Kowalski seems like a smart woman, and she probably had no intention of seeing her son walk away in handcuffs. She knew he was dangerous and cooperated with the investigators. Begolly is now being kept in jail awaiting his trial, having been barred from posting bail following an appeal from federal prosecutors. It will be interesting to see how the trial proceeds from here, and how (if at all) Penn State will be involved in the proceedings.

About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.


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