The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

February 6, 2013

Man accused of planning to firebomb area churches

MIAMI, Okla. — The U.S. attorney’s office in Tulsa has assumed prosecution of a man who was arrested at a motel in Miami in alleged possession of Molotov cocktails and a bizarre plan to firebomb dozens of area churches.

A federal grand jury returned a sealed indictment of Gregory A. Weiler II, 24, on Friday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa. The indictment was unsealed and made public Wednesday with the dismissal of state charges against the defendant and his arraignment in federal court.

Weiler is facing a federal charge of possession of an unregistered destructive device. He had been charged in Ottawa County District Court with constituting a threat to use an explosive or incendiary device, and with a violation of Oklahoma’s anti-terrorism law.

Weiler, who hails from Elk Grove Village, Ill., was arrested Aug. 4 at the Legacy Inn & Suites in Miami after a maintenance worker discovered suspicious items in a motel trash bin. A sailor’s bag containing 50 empty beer bottles with duct tape and strips of cloth attached was brought to the attention of police, who then found a 5-gallon can of gasoline outside the motel.

When a motel employee spotted similar items inside Weiler’s room at the motel, police searched the room and turned up a Wal-Mart receipt for the purchase of sheets, a gas can, a funnel and lighter fluid. They also seized a roll of duct tape, beer bottle caps, an empty 20-bottle case of beer and torn pieces of a document.

When the document was reassembled, it was found to contain a recipe for Molotov cocktails, a list of 48 churches in the Miami area and a crudely drawn map depicting their locations. A journal that was found on the motel room bed contained an entry that read: “Self promote for the next four years while beginning a list of goals written out in Oklahoma having to do with destroying and removing church buildings from U.S. a tiny bit at a time — setting foundation for years to come.”

A cousin of the defendant told The Associated Press that both of Weiler’s parents committed suicide, and that he has struggled with drug addictions and mental illness for a number of years. Other family members suggested that he may have stopped taking his medication in recent months.

Police believe he had been working in the Houston area before ending up in Miami on his way to Missouri. He told police that he caught a ride in Texas from two men he did not know. He said they left him stranded in Miami when he got into an argument with them.

Custody change

GREGORY WEILER waived a detention hearing Wednesday and remains in federal custody in Tulsa. A federal public defender has been appointed for him, but that lawyer could not be reached for comment.

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