For more than 30 years anti-abortion extremists have attempted to use violence against abortion providers to advance their own personal and political agendas. They have injured and murdered health care workers across the country and intimidated and harassed patients who need reproductive health care.
Many of the key anti-abortion extremists who advocate and perpetrate violence against reproductive health care centers and abortion providers frequently travel across city, county, state, and international boundaries to participate in these activities. They are often in contact and work to assist each other by offering resources such as housing and funding.
History of the Army of God
An excerpt from the Army of God Manual says that the Army of God “…is a real Army, and God is the General and Commander-in-Chief. The soldiers, however, do not usually communicate with one another. Very few have ever met each other. And when they do, each is usually unaware of the other’s soldier status. That is why the Feds will never stop this Army. Never. And we have not yet even begun to fight.”
The first public mention of the Army of God (AOG) is believed to have been when Don Benny Anderson used the AOG name in 1982 when he and Matthew and Wayne Moore kidnapped an Illinois abortion provider and his wife. The couple was later released unharmed and the trio were apprehended and convicted. Benny Anderson and the Moore brothers were also responsible for abortion clinic arsons.
Many other threatening and violent incidents are attributed to the Army of God. A few examples are as follows:
In 1984, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun received a death threat through the mail from the Army of God. Also in 1984, several abortion clinics as well as the offices of the National Abortion Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union were bombed. The name Army of God was found at one of the crime scenes. Michael Bray, Thomas Spinks, and Kenneth Shields were responsible for the crimes and spent time in prison.
In letters sent to the media, the Army of God claimed responsibility for the bombing of an abortion clinic and a gay bar in Atlanta, GA. Eric Robert Rudolph was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List prior to his capture in May 2003. He pled guilty to these crimes.
Army of God member James Kopp, alias Atomic Dog, was convicted for the fatal shooting of Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998. Also thought to be linked to Kopp are shootings that injured Dr. Garson Romalis in Vancouver, BC, on November 8, 1994, Dr. Hugh Short in Ancaster, ON, on November 10, 1995 (Kopp is charged with this shooting), an unnamed physician in Rochester, NY, on October 28, 1997, and Dr. Jack Fainman in Winnipeg, MB, on November 11, 1997.
Clayton Waagner, the man who was convicted of sending over 550 anthrax threat letters to clinics in 2001, signed many of his threat letters with the Army of God. He also posted threats to kill 42 individuals working at abortion clinics on the Army of God website.
The Army of God Manual
The Army of God Manual was discovered in Shelly Shannon’s backyard in 1993 by law enforcement officials while searching Shannon’s home and property after she shot Dr. Tiller in Wichita, KS.
It is believed that the Army of God manual was first drafted when numerous anti-abortion extremists were arrested and jailed together for several weeks for protests during the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, GA, in October 1988. It was during this time that the Army of God was formed and its members given aliases. James Kopp was given the name Atomic Dog.
There are three editions of the Army of God manual, published about a year apart and each advocating escalating acts of violence. The third edition advocates the murder of abortion providers as the only way to really stop abortion.
The manual is essentially a “how to” for abortion clinic violence. It details methods for blockading entrances, butyric acid attacks, arson, bomb-making, and other illegal activities. The manual contains not only strong anti-abortion sentiments but also anti-government and anti-gay/lesbian language.
The “declaration” at the beginning of the manual states: “Beginning officially with the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act – we, the remnant of God-fearing men and women of the United States of Amerika (sic), do officially declare war on the entire child killing industry. After praying, fasting, and making continual supplication to God for your pagan, heathen, infidel souls, we then peacefully, passively presented our bodies in front of your death camps, begging you to stop the mass murdering of infants. Yet you hardened your already blackened, jaded hearts. We quietly accepted the resulting imprisonment and suffering of our passive resistance. Yet you mocked God and continued the Holocaust. No longer! All of the options have expired. Our Most Dread Sovereign Lord God requires that whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Not out of hatred of you, but out of love for the persons you exterminate, we are forced to take arms against you. Our life for yours – a simple equation. Dreadful. Sad. Reality, nonetheless. You shall not be tortured at our hands. Vengeance belongs to God only. However, execution is rarely gentile.”
The Army of God and James Kopp
At the beginning of the Army of God manual there is a “special thanks” section. The first name mentioned is Atomic Dog, which is known to be James Kopp’s Army of God alias.
Anti-abortion extremist and Army of God leader Michael Bray was the host of the annual White Rose banquets. Last held publicly in 2001, the banquets honored those extremists who were in prison for committing acts of violence, celebrated the violence, and encouraged supporters to commit additional violent acts. The banquet attracted 30-50 attendees from around the country who supported violence and often had committed violence against abortion providers themselves. One attendee of the 2001 banquet was Dennis Malvasi. In March of 2001 Malvasi and Loretta Marra were arrested for assisting James Kopp while he was on the run from law enforcement. They were accused of sending Kopp money and helping him to plan his return to the United States. Malvasi and Marra pled guilty and were sentenced to time served (over two years). They were released in September 2003. It was during an attempt to pick up the money from a post office that Kopp was finally captured in Dinan, France, about two and a half years after the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian.
In addition, in 2003 Bray called for extremists to gather in Buffalo, NY, during the Roe v. Wadeanniversary to support the actions of James Kopp. The group held a press conference and picketed in front of the courthouse in support of Kopp. Bray visited Kopp in prison during his stay in Buffalo and returned for Kopp’s trial.
Key Players in the Army of God
Michael Bray – Bray has been called the Chaplain of the Army of God. He was the host of the annual White Rose Banquets. Bray is the author of a book called A Time to Kill, which attempts to give a biblical justification for the use of force against abortion providers. Bray frequently and publicly applauds the use of violence to stop abortion and has been jailed for bombing abortion clinics.
Neal Horsley – Horsley was featured in the HBO movie “Soldiers in the Army of God,” and hosts the Nuremberg Files website (www.christiangallery.com), where he posts the names and personal information of abortion providers. The website has been called a “hit list.” Another Horsley website (www.abortioncams.com) posts photographs and video of patients, staff and physicians entering and exiting clinics.
Eric Robert Rudolph – Rudolph pled guilty to the bombing and resulting murder of an off-duty police officer at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, AL, and for the bombing and resulting murder at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, as well as two other bombings. The Army of God was referenced in letters to the media after these incidents claiming credit for the bombings. Rudolph disappeared in 1998 and was captured in May 2003.
Shelley Shannon – Shannon is currently in prison for arson and the attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller. After her arrest for the shooting, police searched her home and found the Army of God manual buried in her backyard. Shannon is also named in the “special thanks” section of the manual under her nickname, Shaggy West.
Donald Spitz – Spitz hosts the Army of God website (www.armyofgod.com), which mocks the murder of Dr. Slepian. Spitz also posted correspondence from Clayton Waagner that threatened abortion clinic staff on his website while Waagner was on the run from law enforcement officials. More recently he has posted writings from convicted bomber and murderer Eric Rudolph. He was the “spiritual advisor” to convicted murderer Paul Hill in the weeks before Hill’s September 2003 execution.
Clayton Waagner – Waagner was convicted in November 2003 for sending over 550 anthrax threat letters to clinics across the United States. Many of the threat letters referenced the Army of God. Waagner also posted on the Army of God website a threat to kill anyone working at an abortion clinic and claimed to have specific information targeting 42 clinic staff. Waagner led law enforcement officials on a nationwide, nearly year-long chase before being captured. He is currently in federal prison.
The Army of God and Justifiable Homicide
Members of the Army of God support violence against abortion providers. After the murders of Drs. Gunn and Britton, Defensive Action, or justifiable homicide petitions were circulated among those who agreed that Michael Griffin’s and Paul Hill’s actions were “justifiable.” (Griffin murdered Dr. Gunn and Hill murdered Dr. Britton and his escort Jim Barrett.) Hill and his attorneys tried to use the “justifiable homicide” defense in his murder trial but the judge would not allow it. He ruled that the defense was not valid because it did not meet the standards of Florida’s justifiable homicide law, which is cited only in cases of self-defense or when a defendant killed to protect a third person.
Below is a list of the signatories of the two petitions and their cities of residence at the time they signed the petition(s). The numbers indicate if they signed the first and/or second petition.
Michael Bray – Bowie, MD, I and II
C. Roy McMillan – Jackson, MS, I and II
Andrew Burnett – Portland, OR, I and II
Cathy Ramey – Portland, OR, I and II
Matt Trewhella – Milwaukee, WI, I
Paul J. Hill – Pensacola, FL, I
Paul deParrie – Portland, OR, I and II
Regina Dinwiddie – MO, I and II
Michael Dodds – Wichita, KS, I
Henry Felisone – Queens, NY, I and II
Tony Piso – Forest Hill, NY, I
Jacob Miller – Tampa, FL, I
Dan Bray – Bowie, MD, I
David Crane – Norfolk, VA, I
Donald Spitz – Norfolk, VA, I and II
Michael Jarecki – Brushton, NY, I
Bill Koehler – North Bergen, NJ, I and II
Kenneth Arndt – Windham, NH, I
Dave Leach – Des Moines, IA, I and II
Mike Walker – AL, I
Thomas Carleton – Billerica, MA, I and II
Valerie Zvskowski – Pittsburgh, PA, I
Joseph F. O’Hara, Wilkes-Barre, PA, I and II
David Graham – Olathe, KS, I and II
David Trosch – Mobile, AL, I and II
Rev. Dr. Michael Colvin – Bowie, MD, II
Thomas G. Hammond – Senatobia, MS, II
Betty L. Hammond – Senatobia, MS, II
Dr. Ronald Graeser – Freemont, MI, II
Dawn Stover – Portland, OR, II
Fr. Robert Pearson – West Long Banch, NJ, II
Rudolph pled guilty to the bombings at Olympic Park, a gay bar and two abortion clinics – one in Atlanta, GA, and the other in Birmingham, AL – as well as two murders resulting from these bombings. The incidents took place from 1996-1998. The Olympic Park bombing killed a woman and the Birmingham clinic bombing killed an off-duty police officer and seriously injured a nurse. Rudolph is serving life in prison.
After the bombings of the gay nightclub and the Atlanta abortion clinic, media outlets received letters claiming credit for the attacks, which were purported to be from the Army of God. Excerpts from the letters (all spelling and punctuation errors are those of the letter writer) include:
“The bombing’s in sandy spring’s and midtown were carried-out by units of the army of god.”
“the abortion was the target of the first device. The murder of 3.5 million children every year will not be “tolerated.” Those who participate in anyway in the murder of children may be targeted for attack. The attack therefore serves as a warning: anyone in or around facilities that murder children may become victims of retribution. The next facility targeted may not be empty.”
“the second device was aimed at agent of the so-called federal government i.e a.t.f. f.b.i. marshall’s e.t.c. we declare and will wage total war on the ungodly communist regime in new york and your legalstive – bureaucratic lackey’s in washington.”
“…death to the new world order.”
History of the Investigation and Kopp’s Involvement
On November 4, 1998, less than two weeks after the murder, a material witness warrant was issued for James Charles Kopp in connection with the shooting death of Dr. Slepian. The warrant was issued in response to reports that Kopp’s car was seen in Dr. Slepian’s neighborhood in the days prior to the shooting. Kopp’s Chevy Cavalier was subsequently found abandoned at the Newark, New Jersey airport on December 18, 1998. It had fake license plates. Kopp is alleged to have fled to Mexico and then to Scotland, Ireland, and France. Jennifer Rock, a friend of Kopp’s, testified in a pre-trial hearing that she drove Kopp to Mexico in November 1998 and along the way helped him to disguise his identity.
Kopp was officially charged with Dr. Slepian’s murder on May 6, 1999. He was charged with 2nd degree murder in New York1 and was also charged federally with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by using force to prevent a physician from providing reproductive health care services. Each federal charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Kopp was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List on June 7, 1999.
The Ontario Police issued an arrest warrant for Kopp on January 24, 2000, for the attempted murder of Dr. Hugh Short, who was shot in his home in November 1995. At that time he was also listed as a “person of interest” in the 1994 Vancouver, BC, shooting of Dr. Garson Romalis, and the 1997 Winnipeg, MB, shooting of Dr. Jack Fainman.
A federal grand jury in New York indicted Kopp in absentia for the murder of Dr. Slepian in October 2000.
Kopp was captured in Dinan, France on March 29, 2001. Prior to his capture, Kopp spent time in Ireland and possibly England and Scotland. Fellow extremists Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra were arrested shortly after Kopp for helping him while he was on the run. Kopp was attempting to pick up money that the pair had wired him when he was captured.
Kopp was extradited to the United States on June 5, 2002, after official assurance from the United States that the death penalty would not be sought in this case.
Kopp first retained attorney Paul Cambria to represent him. He then retained attorney Bruce Barket because Barket also had strong anti-abortion views and wanted to make the case about abortion. Cambria simply wanted to defend Kopp on the evidence. Barket was Kopp’s attorney in the state murder case, which was being tried first, but a federal judge ruled that Barket could not represent Kopp in the federal trial due to a conflict of interest. Barket also represented Loretta Marra.
After Kopp retained Barket as his attorney, Barket sat with Kopp as he confessed to shooting Dr. Slepian in an interview with the Buffalo News on November 20, 2002. After Kopp confessed to the crime, prosecutors charged him with an additional charge of reckless murder with depraved indifference to human life.
Witnesses gave statements that they saw someone resembling Kopp jogging near the Slepian home in the days prior to the shooting. Witnesses also saw Kopp’s car in Dr. Slepian’s neighborhood in the weeks prior to the murder. A hair sample from the crime scene was matched to Kopp from a DNA sample taken from a toothbrush that investigators found in his last apartment. A gun was found buried at the crime scene and was linked to Kopp by the worker at the Tennessee shop that sold Kopp the gun. In addition, Kopp’s Chevy was seen crossing into Canada near Niagara Falls after the 1997 Rochester, NY, shooting, and at the Canada/North Dakota border shortly after the 1997 Winnipeg shooting. His car was also seen in the Hamilton, ON, area before the Ancaster shooting.
James Kopp vehemently denied any involvement in Dr. Slepian’s murder for months, going so far as to say that he fled because he believed the police had killed his friend and fellow anti-abortion protester Maurice Lewis and he feared for his own safety. Lewis was found dead in his truck in 1997 in Canada. His death was ruled accidental. Kopp was quoted as saying “I am innocent…I want my innocence recognized as soon as possible.” Doris Grady, an associate of Kopp’s, provided Kopp an alibi and told the police he could not possibly have purchased a gun in Tennessee at the time authorities allege because he was at her home in Pennsylvania during that time.
However, in an interview with the Buffalo News on November 20, 2002, James Kopp confessed to killing Dr. Slepian.
During the interview Kopp said, “I did it, and I’m admitting it. But I never, ever intended for Dr. Slepian to die.” During the same interview, Kopp would not respond to a question regarding his involvement in the four similar shootings – three in Canada and one in the United States – but his attorney, Bruce Barket, said, “We’ll defend one shooting at a time.”
Referring to abortion providers, Kopp said, “They’re still in danger, absolutely. I’m not the first, and I probably won’t be the last.” He continued, “To pick up a gun and aim it at another human being, and to fire, it’s not a human thing to do. It’s not nice. It’s not pleasant. It’s gory, it’s bloody. It overcomes every human instinct. The only thing that would be worse, to me, would be to do nothing, and to allow abortions to continue.” Kopp claims he wanted to set the record straight for the sake of his supporters who were publicly proclaiming his innocence and saying the FBI had framed him.
Kopp told the reporters that he selected Dr. Slepian’s name from the phone book and that he also cased the homes of several other physicians before deciding that Slepian’s was the most vulnerable due to a window in the back that faced the woods.
Kopp’s State and Federal Trials
In lieu of a jury trial, Kopp agreed to a bench trial in front of a judge. Both the prosecution and the defense stipulated to a series of facts in the case and these agreed upon facts were presented to the judge on March 17, 2003. The following day the judge pronounced Kopp guilty of second-degree murder based on the facts presented at trial. Kopp was sentenced on May 9, 2003, to the maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
Kopp, serving as his own attorney, was convicted by a federal jury in January 2007 of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act by killing Dr. Slepian. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Kopp’s Previous Arrests
James Kopp had been arrested on numerous (possibly hundreds of) occasions. His first recorded arrest was in San Francisco, CA, in April 1984. He subsequently had many other arrests in San Francisco and the Bay area for crimes related to clinic protests over the following four years. In November 1986 Kopp was also arrested in Pensacola, FL, while protesting fellow anti-abortion extremist Joan Andrews Bell’s (see Associates section) sentencing for a clinic invasion. Kopp and Andrews Bell would later travel the world together protesting abortion.
In July 1988 in Atlanta, GA, Kopp was arrested with many other protesters at an Operation Rescue2 “siege”3 during the Democratic National Convention. The group spent several weeks in jail together and it is believed that many of them formed the Army of God.4 They gave themselves aliases and began writing the Army of God Manual. Among those jailed with Kopp were Lambs of Christ5 leader Norman Weslin, Shelly Shannon, who later shot Dr. George Tiller, and John Arena who was later arrested for committing butyric acid attacks against abortion clinics.
From 1988 through 1991, Kopp was arrested several times at clinic protests throughout the Northeast United States including Binghamton, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Burlington, VT; Charleston, WV; and Levittown, NY. On several of those occasions he was arrested along with Lambs of Christ leader Norman Weslin and at least once he was arrested with Loretta Marra, who would later be arrested for assisting Kopp while he was on the run from law enforcement officials. After an arrest for trespassing and damaging property in San Jose, CA, in 1993, there seemed to be a lull in Kopp’s protest activities. He was not arrested at a clinic again until an invasion in Englewood, NJ, in 1997.
It is thought that Kopp intentionally kept a low profile during the time period that he was allegedly committing the physician shootings in the United States and Canada.
Kopp’s Activities and Other Background Info
James Kopp was born in August 1954. He is a graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz, 1976 and Cal State Fullerton, 1982. He was once a professional trumpeter in California.
In the 1980s he was the President of the Lourdes Foundation, which operated a crisis pregnancy center6 in San Francisco, CA. In addition, he spent time in the 1980s in L’Abri, a retreat founded by fundamentalist Francis Schaeffer in the Swiss Alps, and in the South American missions of the Wycliffe Bible Translators. A devout Roman Catholic, Kopp converted to Catholicism in the mid-1980s and led a life of poverty and celibacy.
In 1986 Kopp joined Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity in New York City and worked and lived there for about six months. He then went to Binghamton, New York in 1988 and became a volunteer for Randall Terry in the Operation Rescue office.
For years Kopp traveled with the Lambs of Christ and Operation Rescue and was well known within the extreme anti-abortion movement for developing and using locks that were difficult for the police to remove. He frequently chained himself to doors or tables with locks designed so that it would take hours for law enforcement officials to free him.
Kopp also traveled worldwide, often with Joan Andrews Bell, and protested in Europe, South America, and the Philippines in the early 1990s. He is also known to have traveled to India, Mexico, China, and Kenya. He again joined Andrews Bell and worked at Good Counsel Homes for unwed mothers in Hoboken, NJ, for several months in late 1997 or early 1998. The home is run by Joan Andrews Bell and her husband Chris Bell. He also worked for a Hoboken, NJ, restaurant delivery service from January to June 1998.
Kopp’s last known residence before the Slepian shooting was in St. Albans, VT, where he worked in construction.
Kopp’s stepmother Lynn Kopp told 60 Minutes II that Kopp had a girlfriend in college with whom he was in love “and then one day she said that she wanted to break up with him and he couldn’t accept that. And then she told him that she had an abortion, and it was with…his child. And this, according to his father, is when he picked up his interests in the cause.” However, in Kopp’s confession to the Buffalo News, he said he and a girlfriend had gone to an abortion clinic, thinking she was pregnant, but she wasn’t. He said the moment that changed his life was going to a morgue and seeing a fetus that had been aborted due to birth defects.
Kopp’s Close Associates7
John Arena – Arena was jailed with Kopp during the Operation Rescue “siege” in Atlanta, GA, in 1988. He was arrested for committing butyric acid attacks against clinics and was honored at the 1999 White Rose Banquet, hosted by Michael Bray.
Joan Andrews Bell – Andrews Bell has advocated justifiable homicide and is a longtime friend of Kopp (since 1986 when he was arrested in Pensacola protesting her sentencing). Andrews Bell was Kopp’s employer at Good Counsel Homes for unwed mothers in Hoboken, NJ run by Andrews Bell and her husband Chris. Andrews Bell and Kopp “rescued”8 together in Europe, South America and the Philippines.
Amy Lynn Boissonneault – Boissonneault was rumored to have been a potential love interest of Kopp’s. She visited him while he was in prison in France. There was speculation that she was the reason Kopp was planning to return to the United States (she was seriously ill). She also worked for Good Counsel Homes in New Jersey and was from St. Albans, VT, where Kopp lived prior to Dr. Slepian’s murder. Boissonneault passed away in February 2002.
Michael Bray – Bray is an outspoken advocate of justifiable homicide9 and has a criminal record for committing clinic and other arsons, one of which was the NAF office in Washington, DC. He is said to be the Chaplain of the Army of God. He organized a rally in support of Kopp on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January 2003 and visited Kopp in jail during that trip.
Doris Grady – Grady is a fellow anti-abortion protester from Pittsburgh, PA, who offered an alibi for Kopp during the time law enforcement authorities believed Kopp traveled to Tennessee to purchase the gun used in the Slepian murder.
Bill Koehler – Koehler is a signer of both justifiable homicide petitions. The petitions endorse the idea of justifiable homicide and were circulated after the murders of two abortion doctors in Pensacola, FL, in the mid-1990s. He said he was a member of Operation Rescue with Kopp and that he’d last seen him several weeks before the murder. Koehler also admitted that there are people who would help a fellow anti-abortion extremist in trouble. He said to the Buffalo News, “It’s like the Underground Railroad. You know who’s supportive, you know where the safe houses are, but you don’t publicize it. Everything is on a need-to-know basis.”
Loretta Marra and Dennis Malvasi – The couple was arrested for helping Kopp remain on the run from law enforcement by sending him money. Law enforcement officials have also said they believe the pair were helping Kopp with the logistics of returning to the United States, possibly to commit more crimes. Malvasi has previously served prison time for the fire bombings of clinics in New York City.
Shelly Shannon – Shannon was jailed with Kopp during the Operation Rescue “siege” in Atlanta, GA, in 1988. Shannon is currently in jail for arson and the attempted murder of an abortion provider, NAF member Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, KS.
Randall Terry – Kopp worked with Terry as a volunteer in the Binghamton, New York Operation Rescue office in 1988 when Terry was the leader of that organization. They traveled in the same vehicle together to Atlanta and were jailed together in Atlanta, GA, in 1988.
Norman Weslin – Weslin is the Founder of Lambs of Christ and has been arrested on numerous occasions. He was jailed with Kopp for several months in the early 90s in Vermont and in Atlanta in 1988. He also worked with Kopp in the Bronx.
Jeff White – White has been a member of Operation Rescue West and says he’s known Kopp for ten years.
Justifiable Homicide Supporters Who Rallied in Support of Kopp
In January 2003, Michael Bray and other extremists called for Kopp’s supporters to go to Buffalo to rally in support of James Kopp on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. About a dozen people attended, including Michael Bray, Neal Horsley, Bob Lokey, Jonathon O’Toole, Joshua Graff, Chuck Spingola, Donald Spitz, Linda Wolfe, Bill Koehler, and Adrian Horien. Those who attended the January rally support James Kopp and his violent acts. Most of them are vocal advocates of using violence against abortion providers and many have signed justifiable homicide or “defensive action” petitions.
Following is information on those attending the rally who are not listed in the section of Kopp’s Close Associates:
Joshua Graff – Graff is a convicted clinic arsonist with close ties to Michael Bray and was honored at Bray’s 1999 White Rose Banquet. He posted and signed a new justifiable homicide petition on his website.
Drew Heiss – Heiss has numerous arrests and convictions for clinic related activities including blockades in the Washington, DC, area and in Milwaukee, WI.
Adrian Horien – Horien publicly declared his belief in justifiable homicide in the media in 2003 and was handing out pro-Kopp literature to potential jurors in front of the courthouse during the jury selection process.
Bob Lokey – Lokey spent twenty years in San Quentin for first-degree murder (not related to the abortion issue). He was profiled in the HBO documentary, “Soldiers in the Army of God,” 2001. He manages “Save the Babies” website where he advocates justifiable homicide.
Jonathon O’Toole – O’Toole claims to be a reporter for the Christian Gallery News Service, which is Neal Horsley’s organization that takes pictures of people entering and exiting clinics and posts them on the internet. He lived with Neal Horsley and works on Horsley’s websites – the Nuremberg Files and Abortion Cams. He was profiled in the HBO documentary, “Soldiers in the Army of God,” 2001. O’Toole has made statements indicating his internal anguish over whether or not to take direct action against abortion.
Chuck Spingola – Spingola protests regularly and has numerous arrests relating to anti-gay activities, but is also a close associate of Matt Trewhella, justifiable homicide supporter and leader of the anti-abortion extremist group Missionaries to the Preborn. He attended Bray’s White Rose Banquet in 2001 and was handing out pro-Kopp literature to potential jurors in front of the courthouse during the jury selection process.
Donald Spitz – Spitz was found guilty of blockading a clinic in Norfolk, VA, in 1990. He manages the Army of God website, which posted Clayton Waagner’s threats to kill clinic staff. Spitz was a vocal supporter of John Salvi’s shooting rampages that left two clinic workers dead and five injured at two Brookline, MA, clinics.
Linda Wolfe – Wolfe was involved in maintaining the “Prisoner’s of Christ” network, which offers emotional and financial support to those in prison for committing acts of violence against abortion providers as well as for their families. Wolfe has corresponded with Neal Horsley and has an article published on his website.
- In New York first-degree murder is reserved for specific cases such as killing a police officer. Second-degree murder is a capitol crime in New York.
- Operation Rescue is an anti-abortion activist group that has engaged in illegal activities such as physically blockading clinics in order to prevent patients and staff from entering the facilities.
- “Siege” is the term used by anti-abortion extremists to describe a large group of people protesting at and physically blockading a clinic or clinics, usually over a period of several days.
- The Army of God is an underground group of anti-abortion extremists who believe that it is justifiable to use deadly force to stop abortion. The Army of God has claimed responsibility for arsons, bombings and murders.
- The Lambs of Christ is a group of anti-abortion extremists who travel widely across the country to physically block women from entering abortion clinics. They often use the tactic of locking themselves to clinics in intricate ways in order to make it difficult to remove them.
- Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are designed to misinform and intimidate women to prevent them from having abortions. Women have described being harassed, bullied, and given blatantly false information. They have complained that their confidentiality has been violated, and that treatment by CPCs has endangered their health.
- Kopp’s associates are listed because they are part of a network of extremists who assist those who need housing, money and other help when committing acts of violence. Many of them have also been directly involved in anti-abortion crimes.
- “Rescue” is the term used by anti-abortion extremists to describe protesting, sidewalk counseling and often illegal means such as blockading, to try to stop women from obtaining abortions.
- Justifiable homicide is the term used by anti-abortion extremists who believe it is justifiable to use deadly force to stop abortion.
Waagner had a history of arrests including armed robbery and weapons crimes over many years before becoming active in the anti-abortion movement.
Escaping and Eluding Capture
After his escape in February 2001, Waagner eluded capture for nine months. While running from law enforcement officials, Waagner traveled extensively and is charged with robbing banks, stealing cars, and possessing weapons in addition to threatening abortion clinic staff. He also admitted to sending over 550 anthrax threat letters to clinics across the country during that time. In addition, he used the Army of God and Nuremberg Files websites to post threats against abortion providers and clinic staff.
During the summer of 2001 Waagner posted a threat on a message board on the Army of God website, which is run by extremist and Army of God member Donald Spitz. The post said in part, “So the abortionists don’t get the wrong idea, I don’t plan on talking them to death. I’m going to kill as many of them as I can…. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re a nurse, receptionist, bookkeeper, or janitor, if you work for the murderous abortionist I’m going to kill you.”
Anti-abortion extremist and Nuremberg Files creator Neal Horsley claims that Waagner visited him at his home in Carrollton, GA, on Friday, November 23, 2001. In a lengthy conversation that Horsley says he had with Waagner, Waagner claimed credit for sending anthrax threat letters to clinics. He also claimed, as he had in the past, that he had a list of clinic workers, their vehicles, and their addresses. He said that he intended to start killing these people if they did not quit working at abortion clinics. Waagner allegedly told Horsley of a way that clinic workers who quit could provide proof to Horsley’s website so that Waagner could take them off his list. Waagner would not reveal the names of those on his list but said that “the holy spirit would tell” those who were being targeted. Horsley claimed Waagner was also carrying a weapon and tied Horsley up with tape before he left.
Waagner and Anthrax Threats
During the week of October 15, 2001 anthrax threat letters were received by over 250 abortion and family planning clinics in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. The letters bore the return address of either the United States Secret Service or the United States Marshals Service and were marked “Time Sensitive, Urgent Security Notice Enclosed.” The letters were sent from Cleveland and Columbus, OH; Atlanta, GA; and Knoxville and Chattanooga, TN. The envelopes contained a powdery substance and many were signed by the Army of God.
On November 7, 2001 about 270 anthrax threat letters were sent via Federal Express to clinics and pro-choice organizations in Eastern, Midwestern and Southern States. The letters fraudulently carried the return addresses and account numbers of the National Abortion Federation or Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The FedEx envelopes contained powder and a letter signed by the Virginia Dare Cell of the Army of God.
The National Abortion Federation worked closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on their investigation of Waagner. The FBI, ATF, and USMS put Waagner on their Most Wanted lists. NAF also successfully advocated with the DOJ to have Attorney General Ashcroft issue a public statement in which he promised to prosecute those responsible for sending anthrax threat letters to reproductive health clinics to the fullest extent of the law.
On December 5, 2001, just days after Ashcroft’s announcement, Waagner was captured outside Cincinnati, OH. A Kinko’s employee identified Clayton Lee Waagner as the man using a computer at his store and called 911. He was subsequently arrested and taken into the custody of the U.S. Marshals.
Charges and Convictions
On December 12, 2001 Waagner was extradited to Illinois to face charges for escaping from prison. In early 2002 he was sentenced to 30 years in jail for the charges he was found guilty of before escaping from prison including weapons violations and stolen vehicle charges as well as the escape.
In April 2002 Waagner was convicted in Cincinnati, OH, of six charges relating to weapons violations and stolen vehicles. He represented himself and it took the federal jury just forty minutes to return the guilty verdict. He was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison for these crimes. This sentence was ordered to be served after Waagner completes his previous sentence of 30 years.
While being held in a Kentucky county jail while on trial for additional related charges, Waagner and his murder suspect cellmate tried to escape. They were successful in removing two concrete bricks from the wall in a corner of the cell.
Waagner was indicted on 53 federal terrorism charges related to the hundreds of anthrax threat letters he claims he sent to clinics across the country in the fall of 2001. The charges include extortion, threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction, mailing threatening communications, and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Some of the charges also relate to his threatening website post.
After a trial in Federal District Court in Philadelphia, PA, in November and December 2003 where Waagner acted as his own attorney, a jury took only about two and a half hours to convict Waagner on 51 of 53 counts of the indictment. Waagner was sentenced to 19 years without parole for these crimes. He has also been convicted and sentenced to more than 50 years in prison for numerous other crimes committed while on the run from law enforcement including escape, bank robbery, explosives and weapons charges.