MIAMI, OK — An alert motel maintenance worker helped avert an apparent plot to destroy 48 Ottawa County churches.
“I had taken the trash out when I noticed this real nice bag,” said Ralph Smith, who works for Miami Legacy Inn & Suites.
Smith opened the green military duffel bag and found 50 apparent Molotov cocktails inside.
“I knew it was something not to be ignored, and I called the police.”
That call led to the arrest Thursday of Gregory Arthur Weiler II, 23, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., who was staying in Room 127.
Weiler was charged Friday with possession of an explosive or incendiary device and violation of the Oklahoma Anti-Terrorism Act. He remained in the Ottawa County jail without bail.
Weiler had prevented the housekeeping staff from entering the room for several days, said Steve Ballenger, the night front desk clerk.
“We have a policy every three days we go do a visual check,” Smith said. “We knocked on the door, and he (Weiler) answered with no hesitation. He wasn't nervous. He did turn his laptop (computer off).”
The men noticed some materials similar to what was discovered in the duffel bag, and the police were called a second time.
Police said handwritten notes detailing a recipe for making Molotov cocktails and a list of 48 local churches were found in the motel room, according to an arrest affidavit. A hand-drawn map of the churches also was found, the affidavit states.
Weiler was traveling through northeast Oklahoma on his way to Kansas City and checked into the motel Sept. 20, police said.