Police have arrested Gregory Arthur Weiler II, 23, a native of Elk Grove Village, Ill., over an alleged plan to firebomb 48 churches in Miami, Oklahoma area.
The Daily Herald reports Weiler was charged Friday with possession of an explosive or incendiary device and violation Oklahoma's state anti-terrorism law.
According to The Huffington Post, police say he was found in possession of 50 Molotov cocktails. He planned to use the explosives to wipe out all churches in Ottawa County area. The Oklahoman reports Miami Police Chief George Haralson, said he targeted churches in Ottawa County in the far northeast corner of Oklahoma.
Police say he kept in his motel room a map showing the churches he planned to destroy with notes on how to make Molotov cocktails. According to police affidavit, the maps were detailed and included a list of 48 churches and details of "how many nights the congregations meet and how many people attend. "
Police say they found a duffel bag containing "50 brown glass bottles, a funnel and lighter fluid in a motel trash bin." NBC News reports he was arrested after the bomb-making materials were found in his motel trash bin.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the 48 churches he planned to bomb were “grouped and circled" in a note he kept. He also had plans to videotape the explosions. According to arrest affidavit, a journal entry found in his motel room that detailed elaborate plans to destroy churches across the U.S., read: "Self Promote for the next 4 years while beginning list of goals written out in Oklahoma having to do with destroying and removing church buildings from U.S. a tiny bit at a time — setting foundation for the years to follow.”
According to Fox14TV, the 23-year-old who checked in at the Legacy Inn and Suites on September 20, with an Illinois drivers' licence and a Washington, Illinois address, stayed at the motel for two weeks, long enough to arouse suspicion of the desk girls. Ralph Smith and Steve Ballenger, staff at the motel, decided to carry out a "maintenance check" on Weiler's room 127.
Fox14TV reports Smith said:
"We went down and knocked on the door told the guy that he's refused room services for three or four days and we needed to do an impatience check of his room you know we do that you know to keep people from tearing up the rooms and stuff...
[Ballenger continued] "He let us right in and I noticed that he went right over and turned his computer off and we walked in around the bed and Ralph noticed there were fibers over on the floor and I noticed there was duck tape and scissors over there...
"At that point in time Ralph and I turned around and left the room as calm as can be and we told the girls to call 911."
The Daily Herald reports that FBI spokesman Rick Rains, confirmed Saturday night that the bureau has taken over investigation of the case. According to The Daily Herald, Rains said: “We are not releasing anything further because our investigation is ongoing. They have turned that investigation over to us. It’s certainly the norm that they would contact us. We’re trying to determine whether or not there’s federal violations.”
Weiler's family, however, said that Weiler was mentally unfit and that he suffered addiction to heroin and alcohol.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Weiler's aunt Joanne Meyers, said the family has a history of mental illness. She said she and her husband took in Weiler after his mother committed suicide in 2002. She had suffered depression and alcoholism for years. His father also committed suicide in 2005 after a long struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. His sister was hospitalized for mental illness after several suicide attempts. Meyers said: “We just want people to understand how mental illness such as Greg's affects our whole family."
Weiler had also attempted suicide in 8th grade and he has been hospitalized for mental illness several times. According to The Chicago Tribune, his family said that by his late teen he was "well down the path toward destruction."
He left home to join a religious groups in Missouri. His family kept in touch with him through posts to his Facebook page. According to The Chicago Tribune, on September 25, he posted a comment to his Facebook account in which he accused the leaders of the Catholic Church of "hypocrisy, murder and deceit."
Fox 23 describes an entry to his Facebook page:
"Recent entries refer to him being bullied by a boy at a church when he was younger. The latest post from Sept. 25, 2012, says he is sitting in a hotel room pondering religious belief systems. He writes, 'Can we do it? I know that if no one else will, then I will stand alone, and form my own. And I am telling you that I have not opened a bible in a while, and I haven't stepped foot into a church building in quite some time - and though I may be very lonely right now, I am hoping that someone, and maybe someday in the future, someone will take notice.'"MiamiOK describes another soliloquy on his Facbook page:
"On Weiler's Facebook page there are three notes he apparently posted, one that says in part, 'About a week ago, as I sit in a hotel room, it hits me like a ton of bricks......though I know I am no one special, nor am I someone of great reputation or report, nor do I demand attention for it is not due to me - I myself am worthy of nothing - I am still a living, and breathing human being. And every human being is entitled to the ability to speak that which is upon their heart, and is entitled to free will.'”
After his arrest, his family in Elk Grove Village said they were relieved that the police had caught him. They said they were sure he would have followed through with his plans had he not been arrested in time. Weiler's cousin Johnny Meyers, reportedly said: “It's a blessing in disguise that they were able to get there. He has to be held accountable. It's a blessing, he can't hurt anyone now.”
The Daily Herald reports Rains did not elaborate whether Weiler would be charged under federal anti-terrorism laws, but it is expected that charges will be brought by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.