So who is Scott Roeder, the suspect in the George Tiller murder?
The 51-year-old resident of Merriam, Kansas has a record as a fanatical anti-abortion activist, who had made at least one other threat against an abortion provider. And he also has had ties to the a violent right-wing extremist group that came to prominence in the 1990s.
Roeder believed in “justifiable homicide” — that is, that it’s OK to kill those who facilitate abortions — according to another anti-abortion activist, Regina Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie told McClatchy that in 1996, Roeder walked into a Kansas City Planned Parenthood clinic that was being picketed by protesters, and asked to see the doctor, Robert Crist.
Robert Crist came out and he stared at him for approximately 45 seconds. Then he (Roeder) said, ‘I’ve seen you now.’ Then he turned his back and walked away, and they were scared to death.
In addition, McClatchy reports, someone using the name Scott Roeder has posted anti-Tiller comments on several anti-abortion websites. One comment, posted in 2007, read:
It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the ‘lawlessness’ which is spoken of in the Bible. Tiller is the concentration camp ‘Mengele’ of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation.
That same year, another comment from “Scott Roeder” referred to a recent event organized by anti-Tiller activists in Wichita:
Bless everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp. Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.
But Roeder’s violent right-wing extremism seems to extend beyond the issue of abortion. In April 1996, amid anxiety over the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Roeder was stopped by police after a motorist reported seeing a car with a license plate reading: “Sovereign — Private Property — Immunity Declared at Law —Non Commercial American.”
(“Sovereign citizens” claim to be unaccountable to the federal government, deriving certain rights under English common law. It’s been a favored legal strategy of various violent right-wing extremists, including white supremacists.)
When police searched Roeder’s car, they found the makings of a bomb: a blasting cap; two six-volt lantern batteries, one wired with a clothespin and a cigarette wrapper; and a 1-pound can of black gunpowder. In Roeder’s home, police found instructions titled “Underground Cookbook: Clothes Pin Time-Delayed Switch.”
Roeder was listed by the FBI as a member of the freemen group, which at the time of his arrest was locked in a standoff with federal authorities near Jordan, Montana. (Many freemen also used that license plate tag.) Roeder was ultimately sentenced to 16 months in prison for violating his parole, but the conviction was tossed out after a court found that the evidence against him had been illegally gathered.
Morris Wilson, who during the mid 1990s was the commander of a group called the Kansas Unorganized Citizens’ Militia said he knew Roeder well. “I’d say he’s a good ol’ boy except he was just so fanatic about abortion,” said Wilson.
When Roeder was arrested yesterday, he was driving a blue 1993 Ford Taurus. In the rear window of the car was a red rose — a symbol often used by anti-abortion activists — and on the back his car was a silver fish symbol with the word “Jesus” inside.