The suspect arrested in connection with recent arson attempts at the Planned Parenthood center in Joplin has confessed to setting the fire last year that destroyed the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque, according to a federal court document.
Jedediah Stout, 30, appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Springfield on a complaint accusing him of attempting to set fires at the Planned Parenthood center on Oct. 3 and 4. A public defender was appointed to represent Stout, and preliminary and detention hearings were scheduled for 11 a.m. today.
In advance of those hearings, the U.S. attorney’s office has filed a motion stating why Stout should remain in custody pending the seeking of an indictment by a federal grand jury.
The motion alleges that Stout confessed not only to the two failed attempts to torch the Planned Parenthood center, but also to two similar efforts to destroy the mosque by arson, the second of which succeeded on Aug. 6, 2012.
A month before the blaze that burned the mosque to the ground, a man was captured on video surveillance camera throwing an incendiary device onto the roof of the building at 1302 S. Black Cat Road. Similarly, footage from a camera at the back of the Planned Parenthood building showed a lone person each time throwing a backpack containing accelerants onto the center’s roof.
A probable-cause affidavit filed with the complaint on Friday stated that the FBI and police linked the suspect to the Planned Parenthood arson attempts via the manufacturing tag and uniform price code of a backpack, and surveillance video at a Wal-Mart store where the backpack and a pull toy used to fashion a fuse were purchased.
Investigators also lifted a fingerprint from a bottle containing accelerants that was left at the scene of the first attempt at the Planned Parenthood center. The print matches the suspect, the affidavit alleges.
Stout came to the attention of investigators when police stopped him walking along some railroad tracks about five blocks from the center just minutes after the second arson attempt on Oct. 4. He had a cigarette lighter on him, and his hands allegedly smelled of fuel.
He was taken in on a trespassing charge and was questioned the next day by FBI agents involved in the Planned Parenthood and mosque arson cases. He denied any involvement at that time.
Stout was released Oct. 7 after receiving credit for time served on the trespassing offense. He was rearrested Friday by police and the FBI.
Imam Lahmuddin of the Islamic Center of Joplin expressed relief and gratitude in a telephone interview Monday when he was informed of the suspect’s purported confession.
“Maybe God wants to stop him and help him to be a good person,” Lahmuddin said.
He said that at the very least, the arrest means the suspect “will not be able to continue doing what he has been doing.” He said the Islamic Society of Joplin is grateful to the authorities who investigated the case and made the arrest.
The society is still in the planning stages of efforts to build a new mosque at a site on 32nd Street in Joplin.
A MOTION FILED IN FEDERAL COURT linking Jedediah Stout to attempts to burn down both a mosque and a Planned Parenthood center does not state whether he provided investigators with any reasons why he targeted either building.