TULSA — An Illinois man who plotted to bomb dozens of churches in Oklahoma two years ago has been found not guilty in federal court by reason of insanity.
As previously reported, in October 2012, then 24-year-old Gregory Weiler II of Oak Village, Illinois was reported to police after staff at a motel in Miami, Oklahoma said that they saw suspicious items in his room. Among the items included approximately 50 glass bottles with wicks attached, a gas can and funnel, a duffle bag filled with Molotov cocktails, handwritten notes for the bomb-making recipe and a case of 20 empty beer bottles.
When police arrived on the scene, they found documents that mapped out plans to bomb 48 local churches. According to a filed affidavit, Weiler’s notes included information on what nights the congregants met and how many people are generally in attendance.
Police state that they also found a journal on Weiler’s bed that provided information on his motivation behind the attacks. One of the entries 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 family and friends, Weiler had been expressing his angst against religion for a number of years. Weeks prior to his arrest, Weiler wrote a lengthy note on Facebook outlining his views on everything from the reason for the founding of the nation to current events overseas, to his belief that “[i]f you want conviction of other-worldly kind, you need not look in a Bible.”
He opined that America needs to come together under a common belief system that turns its back on the old ways of thinking, and stated, “[I]f no one else will, then I will stand alone, and form my own.”
“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,” Weiler wrote.
After being taken into custody by Oklahoma police following the discovery of the explosive materials, Weiler was charged with one count of possessing an unregistered device of destruction, to which he plead not guilty.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan, nominated by George W. Bush, found Weiler not guilty by reason of insanity at the request of his attorney and federal prosecutors, and ordered that he be committed to a mental institution until he no longer poses a threat to society. Weiler had been examined by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in North Carolina following the incident, which asserted in court documents that Weiler suffered from “severe mental illness at the time of the alleged offenses, as a result of which he was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.”
The Chicago Tribune reports that Weiler’s aunt, Joanne Meyers, told the publication after his arrest that Weiler had been hospitalized for mental illness on multiple occasions, and that both of his parents had committed suicide by the time he turned 16. Weiler himself had attempted suicide in the 8th grade, and left Illinois several years ago to join what his family called a “cult.”
As part of Friday’s ruling, Weiler has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and return to court on February 21st with the results.