Archive for Monday, June 1, 2009

Suspect in Tiller murder returned to Wichita

Attorney General orders increased security for ‘certain individuals and groups’; Operation Rescue says Roeder ‘never a member’

June 1, 2009, 7:38 a.m. Updated June 1, 2009, 12:52 p.m.


George Tiller shot to death at church

The man accused of shooting and killing Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller remains in jail.

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— A man suspected of fatally shooting abortion doctor George Tiller in church was in jail Monday while investigators sought to learn more about his background, including his possible connections to anti-abortion groups.

Tiller, 67, was serving as an usher during morning services Sunday when he was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church, police said. The gunman fired one shot at Tiller and threatened two other people who tried to stop him.

The suspect, identified by one law enforcement agency as Scott Roeder, was taken into custody some 170 miles away in a Kansas City suburb about three hours after the shooting.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston (FOHL’-stuhn) indicated that charges will not be filed Monday. Foulston noted that the state has 48 hours to charge anyone who is in custody and said she planned to take the full two days to decide. She said any charges would be filed in state court.

“We have taken jurisdiction,” she said.

Also, a law enforcement official says investigators have searched two homes as part of the inquiry into Tiller’s killing. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation, says the homes are in Merriam, Kan., and the other is in Kansas City, Mo.

The official did not know what turned up during the searches.

Scott Roeder’s former wife, Lindsey Roeder, said Scott Roeder had lived at a home in Merriam, but moved out months ago and was currently living in the Westport area of Kansas City.

Tiller had been a lightning rod for abortion opponents for decades. The women’s clinic he ran is one of three in the nation where abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy, when the fetus is considered viable, and has been the site of repeated protests for about two decades.

A protester shot Tiller in both arms in 1993, and his clinic was bombed in 1985.

Roeder, 51, was returned to Wichita and was being held without bail on one count of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault.

Outside the clinic Monday morning, flowers were placed along a fence, and the anti-abortion group Kansas Coalition for Life left a sign saying members had prayed for Tiller’s change of heart, “not his murder.”

In Washington, the U.S. Marshals Service said that as a result of Tiller’s shooting, Attorney General Eric Holder had ordered it to “increase security for a number of individuals and facilities.” It gave no details.

Tiller himself last had protection from the U.S. marshals in 2001, and he and other doctors received such protection at different times in the 1990s.

A man with the same name as the suspect has a criminal record and a background of anti-abortion postings on sympathetic Web sites. In one post written in 2007 on the Web site for the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, a man identifying himself as Scott Roeder asked if anyone had thought of attending Tiller’s church to ask the doctor and other worshippers about his work. “Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller,” the post said.

But police said Sunday that all early indications showed the shooter acted alone.

Operation Rescue condemned the killing as vigilantism and “a cowardly act,” and the group’s president, Troy Newman, said Roeder “has never been a member, contributor or volunteer.” He may have posted to the organization’s open Internet blog, Newman said, but so have thousands of nonmembers.

But Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, whose protests have often targeted Tiller, called the slain doctor “a mass murderer,” adding: “He was an evil man — his hands were covered with blood.”

In 1996, a 38-year-old man named Scott Roeder was charged in Topeka with criminal use of explosives for having bomb components in his car trunk and sentenced to 24 months of probation. However, his conviction was overturned on appeal the next year after a higher court said evidence against Roeder was seized by law enforcement officers during an illegal search of his car.

At the time, police said the FBI had identified Roeder as a member of the anti-government Freemen group, an organization that kept the FBI at bay in Jordan, Mont., for almost three months in 1995-96. Authorities on Sunday night would not immediately confirm if their suspect was the same man.

Morris Wilson, a commander of the Kansas Unorganized Citizens Militia in the mid-1990s, told The Kansas City Star he knew Roeder fairly well.

“I’d say he’s a good ol’ boy, except he was just so fanatic about abortion,” Wilson said. “He was always talking about how awful abortion was. But there’s a lot of people who think abortion is awful.”

The slaying quickly brought condemnation from both anti-abortion and abortion-rights groups, as well as President Barack Obama.

“However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence,” Obama said in a statement.

Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said Tiller apparently did not have a bodyguard with him in church, although the doctor was routinely accompanied by one. An attorney for Tiller, Dan Monnat, said the doctor’s wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time of the shooting.

Monnat said in early May that Tiller had asked federal prosecutors to step up investigations of vandalism and other threats against the clinic out of fear that the incidents were increasing and that Tiller’s safety was in jeopardy. However, Stolz said authorities knew of no threats connected to the shooting.

Church members said anti-abortion protesters have shown up outside the church on Sundays regularly.

“They’ve been out here for quite a few years. We’ve just become accustomed to it. Just like an everyday thing, you just looked over and see them and say, ’Yup they’re back again.”’

The last killing of an abortion doctor was in October 1998 when Dr. Barnett Slepian was fatally shot in his home in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. A militant abortion opponent was convicted of the murder.

One of Tiller’s lawyers and friends, Dan Monnat, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Tiller had been supported by his wife and children in his decision to continue providing abortion services.

“If Dr Tiller is not going to service a woman’s right to chose, who will do it?” Monnat said.

“Many of those have been terrorized and run off by protesters,” he said about other abortion providers.


lee66049 8 years, 9 months ago

Can't understand how pro abortion groups can be upset by Dr. Tiller's death. They believe life is optional...right? they lost and credible right to choice label. Seriously, we do not accept the actions of a killer on our side any more for Dr. Tiller or for a unborn baby. Murder is a crime. Glad they got the suspect.

ksdivakat 8 years, 9 months ago

lee66049....what a terrible thing to say,,,you cant understand why pro choice groups are upset? Really? Common, you are just showing what a moron really acts like. "They believe life is optional?" I have never heard ANY of the pro-choice people say they believed life was optional, I think you are being a bit dramatic. before you decide to criticize me and kick me around, I am against abortion as well, however, the God that people like you serve, and my God are 2 different people. Someone's husband was murdered yesterday, someone Father was murdered yeaterday and someone Grandfather was murdered yesterday....can you show a bit of compassion for those family members who are mourning the loss of their loved one? I absolutely condemn the actions of this lunatic and am glad he is in custody and I am glad that he will get his just dues.....but to come on here and comment that the "Pro-choicers" believe all life is optional is disgusting and its insulting to all of us. Please, Im asking, show some compassion for your fellow man today, and think about this mans family and the grief that they will have in the days to come. Pray for their peace, and show them love. Thats what we all need to do, that is what my God commands us to do!

SandCoAlmanac 8 years, 9 months ago

I have a question that may be trivial, but a little detail puzzles me. Why did yesterday's headline say, "51-year-old man arrested in murder of George Tiller outside his church" and all the reports say Dr. Tiller was in the foyer, working as an usher. Is the foyer of a church on the outside? I honestly don't know, which is why I'm asking. Probably no big deal.

ksdivakat 8 years, 9 months ago

I do have a question however for anyone who could answer it. If this guy was convicted of having bomb making materials then that was a felony right? Now I know that felons get their hands on illegal guns all the time, but my question would be, could that possibly bring special charges, or maybe make him eligable for the death penalty? I would think that he should be charged with being a felon in possesion of a firearm? Isnt it true that in the state of Kansas, if you commit a murder in the commission of a felony then that qualifies for special circumstamces?? So he would be in possesion fo that firearm and that would be a felony??? Just asking, I really dont know.....

tolawdjk 8 years, 9 months ago


I hope they just ammended the article after you posted, but it clearly states that the guy's conviction was overturned on appeal...hence no felony on the bomb making materials charge.

ksdivakat 8 years, 9 months ago

Yip, they must have updated after I posted. Wow, I thought I read on the other post that he was also parole violated for it and spent 16 months or something...anyway, Im sure that there are going to be details that come out as the investigation plays out. And Im sure that there is probably alot of misinformation right now, so it will take awhile to sort it all out.

lee66049 8 years, 9 months ago a person that has a late term abortion is not making a choice to take a life? And the person that performs the abortion is not taking a life....I love the world you live in, what with the candy and rainbows.....meanwhile back in the real world.

WhiteDog 8 years, 9 months ago

I think ksdivakat is getting a taste of what has prompted many (myself included) to move further to the left as we get older -- to get as far away as possible from the fear and hate rhetoric spewed by some on the right.

Erin Parmelee 8 years, 9 months ago

lee66049 (Anonymous) says…

ksdivakat….so a person that has a late term abortion is not making a choice to take a life? And the person that performs the abortion is not taking a life….I love the world you live in, what with the candy and rainbows…..meanwhile back in the real world.

Back in the real world....what? In your world it makes sense to murder someone for finding something they do distasteful? Because that is essentially what you're indicating.....

ebyrdstarr 8 years, 9 months ago

Agnostick, the 4th Amendment is not a technicality.

feeble 8 years, 9 months ago

I imagine they are pulling the entire site off line until they can thoroughly scrub it (futile at best, due to organizations like the internet archive.) The other option is that they've gotten to many requests coming into the site in the last 24 hours, and their ISP has pulled the site due to data usage overages.

lee66049 8 years, 9 months ago

Agnostic legally life does not start at birth...if it did late term abortions would be legal everywhere but they are not. Nice try though.

Hodgepodge in my first post I clearly indicate murder is wrong. If you would like to put words in my mouth I prefer that they "I am handsome and my hair will grow back one day" abortion groups...I googled it and I got the usual...Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Organization for Women, and the American Civil Liberties Union are the leading pro-choice advocacy and lobbying groups in the United States. Most major feminist organizations also support pro-choice positions.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 9 months ago

Why oh why can't people understand that late term abortions are extremely rare and never occur without good reason? Do you seriously believe some woman wakes up one morning in the eighth month of pregnancy and says to herself like a V8 commercial, "Wow! I could have had an abortion!" The vast majority of women who have late term abortions carry a fetus that cannot survive birth anyway. It has anencephaly or brittle bone disease or is missing a major organ that will cause it to die at birth. Yet you people want to condemn the poor women who carry these malformed infants to being forced into carrying them until they give birth naturally and the baby dies anyway. How humane for the mother and child. (That was sarcasm by the way for those of you who don't get it.) The women that carry these infants also often have major health problems themselves. Even aborting the fetus can be fraught with danger much less forcing her to go through labor and delivery. Tiller was a late term abortion specialist and knew how to care for these women. We need to face the fact that when Tiller died it opened up the possibility that there are women who will die because he is no longer there. Does anybody even care about this?

Thats_messed_up 8 years, 9 months ago

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Erin Parmelee 8 years, 9 months ago

lee66049 (Anonymous) says…

Hodgepodge in my first post I clearly indicate murder is wrong. If you would like to put words in my mouth I prefer that they “I am handsome and my hair will grow back one day”

Okay, then clear up my confusion. What did you mean by "meanwhile, back in the real world...."?

lee66049 8 years, 9 months ago

Ksdivakal had called me a moron because I said prochoice groups see life as opitional regarding late term abortions. In the real world abortion is a choice, especially as it pertains to third term abortions. I never heard of Dr. Tiller doing forced abortions...have you?

notyourmom 8 years, 9 months ago

If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a god given right. And it would be a "quality of life" thing, so insurance would pay for it.

kthxbi 8 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, what cait48 said. Exactly right. And partial birth abortion is a term made up by the anti-choice movement. Not a medical procedure.

ksdivakat 8 years, 9 months ago

lee66049 (Anonymous) says…

Can't understand how pro abortion groups can be upset by Dr. Tiller's death. They believe life is optional…right?

This is the comment that I find disgusting, and in my world and alot of other peoples worlds it is disgusting. You are saying that just because people who are pro-choice, then life is optional and they shouldnt be upset at Tillers death. Again, such a moronic statement I cant even begin it fell onto the screen! So according to YOUR theory, those of us who are pro-life, should be able to shoot and kill any pro-choicer because they believe life is optional? The world I live in, is unfortunately not full of candy and rainbows, it is littered with extremism and trash who have nothing better to do then to praise a murderer, and exact that moronic statement on a public forum where you think its cute and acceptable. If I misunderstood your post, I apologize, but to me, today does not seem to be the day for the left or the right, today, we should all stand together and denounce a crime that was sensless and certainly not justified.

jhokfan 8 years, 9 months ago

They should be called right to birth advocates. Once they're born they don't give a s##t about their life.

alwayysgetmyway 8 years, 9 months ago

what this moron did to babies, is terrible. abortionists are murderers, but this guy is satan. giving abortions to babies who are almost old enough to come out of the womb and live is ridiculous and terrible. his death was 'justified"

djeyler 8 years, 9 months ago

Hey alwaysgetmyway, you are so right about everything regarding Tiller except his death being justified. I can understand your anger about this baby murdering fool who killed for the profit, but shooting him dead in is not justifiable. Justice was nipping at his heels and brave organizations and prosecutors were gathering the truth. It was a matter of time. So stay informed and involved but don't let these Tiller loving, baby killing supporters run you off. They are simply fearful that their little sister might have an inconvenient truth some day and want to use his services. That's all this is about. But Killing Tiller was wrong.

joanni 8 years, 9 months ago

So, what if your little sister was "inconveniently" raped?

Do you want to raise that baby? What if it looks just like its father? And, you have to see him everyday?

youarewhatyoueat 8 years, 9 months ago

"They are simply fearful that their little sister might have an inconvenient truth some day and want to use his services."

An inconvenient truth such as she might die or suffer irreversible damage if she gives birth? I'm glad you're not my older sibling. Would you rather your sister give birth to a DOA child and die as well, or keep your sister around? To be frank, if I were in a predicament where late-term abortion would be a lifesaver, but my family condemned me for choosing to save my own life and health, they'd never hear from me again.

Perhaps it's only 3% of the population that have to deal with these awful circumstances, but you never know when that 3% is going to find its way into your life someday.

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