Waagner suspected of mail crimes
The Derrick, 11/16/01 By LISA THOMPSON
A special thank you goes
out to The Derrick for allowing this article to be posted
But officials won't confirm whether the
fugitive is being linked to anthrax threats mailed to abortion clinics.
Postal investigators who searched fugitive
Clayton Lee Waagner's home Wednesday suspect the self-proclaimed abortion clinic
stalker is using the U.S. mail to commit crimes.
But officials aren't saying what those suspected crimes
are. Specifically, they are not saying whether they are trying to link Waagner
to anthrax threats mailed last week to 200 abortion clinics, including at least
three in western Pennsylvania.
The letters, signed by the "Army of God, Virginia
Dare Cell", arrived in Federal Express packages that contained a powder. It
was the second such mailing in two months.
Waagner's name has been linked to the "Army of
God" term in the past. Following his escape from federal prison in June, a
letter purportedly written by him appeared on Virginia minister Donald Spitz's
"Army of God" Web site. The writer threatened to kill those who worked
for abortion providers.
In a message left at The Derrick late Wednesday, John
Wisniewski of the U.S. Postal Inspections Service in Pittsburgh confirmed the
agency is investigating Waagner for committing crimes through the mail. But he
declined to comment on what those crimes might be, citing the ongoing
"Because he is only a suspect at this point and no
charges have been filed yet, I really can't divulge any additional details of
our investigation. But we are actively involved in locating Mr. Waagner and
apprehending him," he said.
Wisniewski's comments came hours after about a dozen U.S.
Postal inspectors, U.S. marshals, FBI agents and state police on Wednesday
searched Waagner's former home in a wooded area along Route 308 north of
On Thursday, U.S. Marshal Frank Policaro of Pittsburgh
confirmed that investigators removed items from the Waagner home. He declined to
specify what was removed from the home, saying he had not reviewed it yet.
Waagner's wife and children reside in the home, and some
family members were home at the time of the search, FBI Special Agent Bob Rudge
said Wednesday. But the family was not the target of Wednesday's search. There
is no indication the family has been harboring Waagner, Policaro said.
What authorities sought and what evidence led them to
focus on the home would likely be contained in the application for a search
warrant filed in federal court. However, the court often seals warrants in cases
such as Waagner's.
Attempts by the newspaper to locate a search warrant in
area federal courts were not successful. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Brysh of
the U.S. Attorney's office in Pittsburgh declined to comment on whether that
office obtained a search warrant for the case.
"I can't really comment on any ongoing investigative
effort. I can say that such warrants and affidavits are (typically) placed under
seal," he said.
Repeated calls to the U.S. Attorney's office in Erie were
Policaro said the Waagner investigation has been
"quiet" since September when the fugitive briefly surfaced in
Tennessee. Investigators hoped to generate new leads by going back to Waagner's
home base, he said.
"This is nothing new for somebody on the top 15 Most
Wanted to periodically search a home in hopes of finding leads to the
whereabouts of the wanted person," he said.
Both he and Rudge said authorities have no information
leading them to believe Waagner is in this area.
Ranked among the FBI's 10 Most Wanted with terrorist
leader Osama bin Laden and abortion clinic bomber Eric Roberts, Waagner faces a
host of charges ranging from escape to robbery to weapons violations in several
states. The U.S. Marshals Service has been leading the search for Waagner, but
he is also wanted by the FBI in connection with a Harrisburg bank robbery and
other offenses and on warrants for burglary and other charges filed by state
police in Venango County.
Although listed on both the FBI and the U.S. Marshals
Service's most wanted lists and repeatedly profiled on the television show
America's Most Wanted, Waagner has eluded capture since his escape from federal
prison in February.
He last surfaced in September after he allegedly abandoned
a wrecked car containing a pipe bomb and anti-abortion literature on the side of
a Memphis, Tenn., freeway, then hijacked a van in an area 40 miles away.
Waagner's years-long alleged crime spree began here in
1999 with the theft of a GMC Yukon from A. Crivelli Chevrolet in Reno.
Though his accomplice, former Kennerdell resident Jason M.
Miller, was captured after a robbery, Waagner escaped and stayed on the run for
four months during which time he said he committed robberies and stole weapons
and vehicles while stalking abortion clinics.
He was captured in September 1999 on the side of an
Illinois highway when a stolen Winnebago carrying him, his wife and their eight
children broke down.
At trial in December 2000 in Urbana, Ill., on weapons and
theft charges, Waagner testified he had been watching abortion clinics for
months and was stocking up on weapons to kill doctors who provided abortions
because God had asked him to be his warrior. He has not, however, taken any
direct action against them.
Two months later he used a comb to open a door and escape
through the ventilation system in a new DeWitt County, Ill., jail. Authorities
believe he timed his escape so he could leap onto a passing train and avoid
Since then Waagner has been indicted for robbing a
Harrisburg bank in May and on Wednesday Rudge indicated Waagner is likely to be
indicted for a bank robbery in August at the Erie Millcreek Mall.
A reward of more than $75,000 is being offered for
information leading to Waagner's arrest.
Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts should
call the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or their
local law enforcement.