Why would a 53-year-old woman be carrying around recipes for homemade explosives and information on the deadly poison ricin?
Federal authorities in Alaska say they aren’t sure. And they don’t know where Mary Ann Morgan was heading when she was arrested in late October as she attempted to enter Canada, possibly en route to the lower 48 states.
Morgan, a resident of Kenai and secretary of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, was found in possession of a Baretta .32-caliber pistol, which she can’t legally possess because she has a prior felony conviction.
In her truck, authorities also found a “horde of documents,” including information on ricin and other poisons, firearms, close combat training, pipe bombs and explosives, a court document says.
“Her vehicle was loaded with a large amount of documents and little to no personal effects,” the document says.
Morgan is the fifth person arrested as part of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into the alleged “241” plot to kill state troopers and a judge in Alaska. Francis Schaeffer Cox, the 27-year-old leader of the Peacemakers, is at the center of the unfolding investigation. He is currently in jail without bail awaiting trial on a variety of federal weapons charges.
As the terrorism task force looks for answers about Morgan’s involvement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki says he is certain about one thing: She is a “danger to the community, a flight risk and is totally incapable of abiding by any (release) conditions issued by this court.”
The federal prosecutor will ask that she be detained without bond at a bail hearing now set for Wednesday.
“Where Ms. Morgan was headed, and why, is unknown, but the items she carried with her speak volumes about her future course,” Skrocki said in a court filing.
At her initial court appearance, Morgan refused to provide her name to the court and demanded to appear before a grand jury. She also refused to provide background information to a federal probation officer preparing a routine report for the court.
The prosecutor said there is an “ominous nature” to the documents found in Morgan’s possession.
Ricin, in particular, is an extremely deadly poison, Skrocki wrote, asking the court to take judicial notice of last week’s arrest in Georgia of four militia members accused of plotting to use ricin in attacks against government and public targets in Atlanta.
“While supporting the Alaska Peacemaker Militia as its secretary, Morgan personally subscribes to these [antigovernment] beliefs as well,” Skrocki said in the court document. “And while she possesses a First Amendment right to do so, the evidence provided here establishes that, due to those beliefs, she will not abide by any order of this court concerning pretrial release.”
Skrocki also detailed Morgan’s various postings on a militia website, including one in which she said she was “looking for combat training that is not related to the military.”
“This statement, combined with the pistol found in her vehicle, the pipe bomb directions and ricin information, significantly ups the ante in terms of risk to the public in general, law enforcement or the judiciary,” Skrocki said. “This is especially true due to not knowing the ultimate destination of the defendant or her intentions once she arrived at her destination.”