OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Illinois man with a long history of mental illness has been charged with plotting to attack dozens of churches after a hotel maintenance worker in Oklahoma spotted the makings of Molotov cocktails in a trash bin and alerted police.
Gregory Arthur Weiler II, 23, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., has been charged under a strict Oklahoma anti-terrorism law put in place after the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. The law makes terrorism hoaxes a crime as well as any effort to plan or help plan an act of terrorism.
Weiler was arrested Thursday after a worker at a motel in Miami, Okla., spotted bottles and other suspicious items in a garbage bin, according to a police affidavit.
Officers found bomb-making materials in Weiler's room along with torn bits of paper that, when assembled, contained directions for making Molotov cocktails, a list of 48 local churches, a hand-drawn map of the churches, and an outline of a plan to plant bombs.
Weiler has been held without bond on charges of threatening to use an explosive or incendiary device and violating the Oklahoma Antiterrorism Act. Online court records indicate he has applied for a court-appointed attorney and is due in court on Oct. 22.
According to an affidavit filed by Det. Jeff Frazier, a maintenance worker alerted Miami police after noticing a pile of brown bottles with cloth wicks attached by duct tape in a trash bin at the Legacy Inn and Suites, which sits just off a major interstate. A funnel and 5-gallon red gasoline can also had been dumped in the bin.
While background checks were being done on the hotel's 18 guests, the maintenance worker accidentally walked into Weiler's room and saw Weiler with similar items and a Walmart receipt showing the purchase of other items, the affidavit said.
Police found pieces of paper in the trash with details of the plot, plans to videotape the bombings and the words: "Try to get away with it ... maybe a plan out of town?"
Weiler's family said he has a long history of mental illness, and Miami Police Chief George Haralson said his answers during questioning ranged from rambling to coherent.
Haralson said it wasn't clear whether Weiler posed a real threat to churches and the community.
"He had the means and the ability to carry this out," he said. "How does one assess the threat?"
Weiler's parents both committed suicide, and Weiler has battled drug addiction and "a lot of mental illnesses" that led to a suicide attempt in the eighth grade, said his cousin Johnny Meyers.