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Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

Fugitive suspected in anthrax hoaxes caught

December 6, 2001

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— An escaped convict suspected of mailing hundreds of anthrax hoax letters to abortion clinics was captured Wednesday at a copy shop outside Cincinnati after employees recognized him from his wanted poster.

Clayton Lee Waagner who once testified that God told him to kill abortion doctors was one of the FBI's 10 most-wanted fugitives.

He had been on the run since February, when he escaped from a jail in Clinton, Ill., while awaiting sentencing for weapons offenses and auto theft.

Federal marshals had distributed a wanted poster to Kinko's stores after learning Waagner was using the stores' computers to log on to anti-abortion Web sites and check e-mail.

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft has called Waagner the primary suspect behind anthrax hoaxes committed against 280 clinics last month. The clinics received envelopes containing white powder and letters signed by the "Army of God." The powder was not anthrax.

Waagner, 45, claimed responsibility for the letters when he showed up at the Georgia home of an anti-abortion activist last week, according to authorities.

Waagner was arrested after employees at a Kinko's in Springdale recognized him and called police, said Gary Richards, a chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service.

Ben Reyna, the new head of the U.S. Marshals Service, said Waagner was arrested with $10,000 cash in his pocket, computer components, and a loaded handgun in his waistband. Waagner was driving a stolen Mercedes-Benz, and lived lavishly by robbing banks, Reyna said.

Waagner had been arrested in 1999 after he entered Illinois with his wife and eight children in a stolen Winnebago with four stolen handguns under the driver's seat. During his trial, Waagner testified that he had watched abortion clinics for months, stocking up on weapons after God asked him to "be my warrior" and kill doctors who provide abortions.

In June, after Waagner's escape from jail, abortion clinics were warned to be on alert after someone purporting to be Waagner posted an Internet message vowing to kill employees of abortion providers.

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