Clayton Lee Waagner, the fugitive sought in a nationwide wave of hundreds of anthrax threats against abortionclinics, was arrested today by federal agents after an employee at a photocopy store recognized him from a wantedposter.
Waagner’s arrest was announced by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who singled him out last week as the primarysuspect in the series of mailed warnings and packets of powdery substances. “We can write across the face of thatposter, 'Apprehended!'” Ashcroft said with satisfaction as he announced the arrest at the swearing-in of Ben Reyna asdirector of the Marshals Service yesterday.
Until Waagner claimed responsibility for a rash of over 200 anthrax attacks mailed to women’s reproductive healthclinics in October, Ashcroft had been largely silent about the years of attacks on clinics. Waagner was added to theFBI’s top 10 most wanted list 10 days after September 11th. He has been on the run since he escaped from an Illinoisprison in February.
The 45-year-old anti-abortion advocate and fugitive was previously convicted on charges involving firearms and cartheft. The authorities said he was trying to create a one-man reign of terror at the abortion clinics by exploitingthe public’s alarm over the five anthrax deaths that occurred after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The father of nine children, Waagner has styled himself as an “anti-abortion warrior” commissioned by God. As policeofficers approached him at midday, Waagner tried to run when confronted at a Kinko’s copying store. But he wasapprehended without injury, ending a multistate run that the authorities said was financed by bank robberies.
Marshals on his trail for months learned that Waagner regularly patronized stores in the round-the-clock Kinko’schain. The fugitive copied materials and used Internet services, the authorities said, to check for e-mail onanti-abortion Web sites.
The 280 mailings to clinics were signed “the Army of God” under this warning to clinic officials: “You have chosen aprofession, which profits from the senseless murder of millions of innocent children each year. We are going to killyou. This is your notice. Stop now or die.”
The threats were so widespread- over 450 abortion clinics in at least 12 states were targeted since September 11th—-that they were likely to be the work of more than one person. Waagner was arrested with a loaded handgun, a stolenMercedes-Benz, computer material and $10,000, raising questions about a network of support allowing his lavishlifestyle.
According to Neal Horsley, an anti-abortion extremist who runs the Nuremburg Files web site, a running hit-list ofabortion providers, Waagner showed up at his home in Carrollton, Ga., at the end of November. Horsely toldauthorities that Waagner claimed responsibility for the anthrax threats while threatening to kill 42 workers inabortion clinics.
- Frank Monck, Administrator of a women’s health clinic in Brooklyn that received two anthrax letters in thelast month.