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Three former U.S. Army soldiers are among five additional suspects indicted Tuesday in Georgia for their alleged roles in a secret militia plot that led, allegedly, to a double homicide.
The group, calling itself the FEAR Militia, was secretly formed by soldiers stationed at Fort Stewart. Its members armed themselves with $87,000 in assault weapons and discussed taking over the military base, poisoning fruit crops and blowing up a dam in Washington state, and assassinating President Obama, authorities say.
There are now 10 defendants facing state charges in Georgia in connection with the alleged militia plot and murders. No federal charges have been filed, but the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is closely monitoring the case.
Tom Durden, the district attorney in Liberty County, Ga., has said he will seek the death penalty against the alleged ringleader, Army Pvt. Isaac Aguigui of Wenatchee, Wash., as well as Pvt. Christopher Salmon and Sgt. Anthony Peden, whose hometowns haven’t been disclosed.
Named in new indictments were Adam Dearman, Timothy Joiner, Randall Blake Dearman and Antony Garner, The Savannah Morning News reported. The four are charged with illegal gang activity and various counts of theft, burglary and auto break-ins.
The burglaries and thefts “were committed in an effort to fund FEAR and what FEAR was at least advocating they wanted to accomplish,” Durden was quoted as saying by The Associated Press
FEAR stood for Forever Enduring Always Ready, according to investigators.
The militia group was started after Aguigui got a $500,000 insurance settlement after the July 2011 death of his pregnant wife, Dierdre Wetzker Aguigui, who also was a soldier. She died at Fort Stewart where the couple was stationed. They met while attending a West Point Academy prep school.
Her father, Alma Wetzker, who lives in Minneapolis, told the Seattle Times last month that Dierdre Aguigui’s death, and that of her unborn child, remained “undetermined and under investigation” by authorities who labeled the case “highly suspicious.”
After getting the $500,000 insurance settlement, Aguigui allegedly used the money to fund the secret militia, prosecutors have said in outlining their case in court. The money reportedly was used for the purchase of land for a militia base in Washington state and the expenditure of $87,000 for assault weapons from a Wenatchee gun store, High Mountain Hunting Supply.
It hasn’t been disclosed if those weapons were used in the double homicide.
Last December, two days after he left the Army, former solider Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York, were lured into a wooded area near Fort Stewart and fatally shot, execution-style. Authorities say they believe the assassinations were carried out to protect the secrecy of the anarchist militia group operating with the ranks of the U.S. Army.
It was those murders and the search for the suspected killers that eventually led investigators to the FEAR militia.
Further insights were gained when one member of the group, Army Pfc. Michael Burnett, struck a plea bargain, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and started talking to investigators.
The other defendants charged in the case are Heather Salmon, who is Christopher Salmon’s wife, and Christopher Jenderseck, who is charged with evidence tampering. The prosecutor said Jenderseck is accused of helping the soldiers burn clothing they wore during the killings of Roark and York.