A lawsuit against a Kansas woman who publicly proclaimed her admiration for the man who gunned down one of the country’s few late-term abortion providers is revealing the unwavering support a small group of radical anti-abortion activists has for the imprisoned killer despite an ongoing federal investigation into the 2009 slaying.
Though no federal indictments have been handed down by a grand jury investigating whether Dr. George Tiller’s death was connected to a broader case involving extreme anti-abortion activists, the lawsuit against Angel Dillard is one indication the Justice Department is taking a more heavy handed approach to perceived threats to abortion providers. In addition to alleging Dillard, of Valley Center, sent a threatening letter in 2011 to another Wichita doctor who was training to offer abortions, the lawsuit also highlights Dillard’s relationship with Scott Roeder, the man convicted of fatally shooting Tiller at the physician’s church.
When Roeder opened fire on Tiller, he propelled himself to icon status among abortion opponent extremists — a status that hasn’t wavered since he was sentenced to life in prison. A leader in the Army of God, which supports violence against abortion doctors, notes Roeder gets more correspondence than other imprisoned anti-abortion activists.
Hailed by militant anti-abortion forces as a “prisoner of Christ,” Roeder has been spreading his radical views from a Kansas prison. Other extremists have gravitated to Roeder, visiting him in prison, sending him money and offering legal advice, court documents show.
The story behind the murder of Dr. George Tiller is chilling indeed, perhaps mainly for what it reveals of the extensive support network of anti-abortion extremists who enable these religiously motivated acts of terrorism.Youtube Video
Amanda Robb at Ms Magazine points out a simple fact about anti-abortion murderer Scott Roeder: he did not act alone. He had an extensive support network of Christian anti-abortion extremists, many of whom are quite open about their belief that murdering abortion doctors is “justifiable homicide.” Roeder wasn’t the first killer in this amorphous movement of religious fanatics, and he probably won’t be the last: Not A Lone Wolf.
Scott Roeder’s web of connections. Click to embiggen.While under financial stress in 1992, Roeder happened upon right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson’s 700 Club on television. He claims he fell to his knees and became a born-again Christian. According to his own recollections and those of his ex-wife, he immediately fixated on what he considered two earthly evils: taxes and abortion.
In very short order, he affiliated himself with Christian anti-government groups such as the Freemen militia and eventually became involved with antiabortion groups such as Operation Rescue and the Army of God, the latter of which openly sanctions the use of violence to stop abortion.
Roeder told me that his first act as an anti-abortion activist was to protest outside a Kansas City women’s clinic. Among the protestors he came to know were Anthony Leake, a proponent of the “justifiable homicide”of abortion doctors, and Eugene Frye, the owner of a Kansas City construction company who, together with another antiabortion activist, had been arrested in 1990 for attempting to reinsert the feeding tube of a Missouri woman in a persistent vegetative state. Frye had also been arrested for blockading abortion clinics during the 1991 Summer of Mercy in Wichita, which was organized by Operation Rescue.
Through Frye, Roeder says, he soon met Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon. She, like Frye, had attended the Summer of Mercy protests; over the next two years she would commit eight arson or acid attacks on abortion clinics in the Pacific Northwest. Then, most horrifically, on August 19, 1993, she would try to murder Dr. George Tiller, succeeding only in shooting and wounding him in both his arms.
Roeder says Frye took him to visit Shannon where she was incarcerated in Topeka. Roeder was instantly smitten with the intense, unrepentant shooter. Frye had made a match. Roeder began visiting Shannon without Frye: Over the years, while she served her 30-year-long sentence for the clinic attacks and the attemptedmurder, Roeder would see her some 25 times. As his marriage began disintegrating, he even considered asking the raven-haired Shannon about beginning a romance. But, he told me, he did not because of the obvious obstacles involved in dating an incarcerated woman.
Still, Roeder and Shannon stayed close—and he began contemplating killing Dr. Tiller himself. Maybe it would be a car crash; maybe he’d shoot him sniper-style from a rooftop near Tiller’s clinic. Or maybe he would just cut off Dr. Tiller’s hands with a sword. Roeder testified to all of these at his trial.
While protesting at a Kansas City abortion clinic, Roeder also met Regina Dinwiddie, who had been arrested along with Frye during Operation Rescue’s 1991 Summer of Mercy in Wichita. A nurse from Kansas City, she was the first person to face a civil restraining order under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act because, according to the complaint, she would not stop screaming threats at abortion clinic patients and personnel. The clinic director said Dinwiddie once told her, “Patty, you have not seen violence yet until you see what we do to you!” Dinwiddie, an admitted member of the violencepromoting Army of God, was also arrested at Operation Rescue’s 1988 Siege of Atlanta. Authorities housed the anti-abortion activists in a separate unit—which became a terrorist seedbed. Also arrested and incarcerated along with Dinwiddie were Shannon, Jayne Bray and James Kopp. Bray is the wife of Michael Bray, the so-called lifetime chaplain of the Army of God, who was, at that time, incarcerated elsewhere for a series of clinic bomb attacks.
It should also be noted that even among right wingers who don’t belong to any of these extremist groups, and who don’t openly advocate murder, there was an appalling amount of cheering when Scott Roeder shot Dr. George Tiller in the head at a church.
Anti-abortion murderer Scott Roeder is going to spend at least the next 50 years in prison.
“The blood of babies is on your hands!” he yelled at prosecutors as bailiffs led him from the courtroom.
The jury in Wichita, Kansas, deliberated for just 37 minutes today before finding anti-abortion fanatic Scott Roeder guilty of first degree murder in the killing of Dr. George Tiller.
Roeder testified that he shot Tiller in the head May 31 in the foyer of Tiller’s church in Wichita because he believed the physician posed an “immediate danger” to unborn children. His attorneys were hoping to get a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter for Roeder, but the judge ruled that the jury could not consider such a verdict.
Prosecutors told the judge they will seek a minimum sentence of 50 years for Roeder during his sentencing. …
In his testimony, Roeder told jurors he had considered elaborate schemes to stop the doctor, including chopping off his hands, crashing a car into him or sneaking into his home to kill him. …
But in the end, Roeder told the jury, the easiest way was to walk into Tiller’s church, put a gun to the man’s forehead and pull the trigger.