New York Times October 2, 1996
Bo Gritz Accused of Attempted Kidnapping
Reported by JONATHAN RABINOVITZ
HARTFORD, Conn. — For years, Bo Gritz, a former Green Beret commando
and a leader of the far-right militia movement, has warned of government
conspiracies to restrict freedoms and called for upright citizens to arm
themselves and move to the Idaho hills to escape government tyranny and
On Monday, the authorities say, Gritz saw one more example of conspiracy
and tried to end it. They say he tried to kidnap two young boys who he
believed had been unjustly taken from their mother and placed by a
Connecticut judge with a father who Gritz’s backers say may be a
pedophile and may be associated with a Satanic cult.
James G. Gritz, 57, known as Bo, and his son, James R. Gritz, 38, were
arrested Monday afternoon while waiting for one boy in a parking lot of
the McAlister Middle School in Suffield, a small town on the
Massachusetts border where they live.
The Gritzes were arraigned Tuesday in state Superior Court in Enfield on
charges of criminal attempt to commit kidnapping in the first degree,
criminal attempt to commit custodial interference and loitering on
The younger Gritz was also charged with possession of a weapon, a
modified switchblade, on school grounds and burglar tools. Jon
Schoenhorn, a lawyer for Bo Gritz, said, “He absolutely and
categorically denies that he was there to kidnap or grab the kids in any
way that would interfere with the custodial relationship.” Schoenhorn
added that the mother, Linda M. Wiegand, also denied any plan to abduct
the two boys.
But there is no question that Gritz and his son were in Connecticut to
work on the case. Gritz had met with Ms. Wiegand at least once over the
last two months and had featured her on his syndicated radio show.
A news release from Gritz’s political group in Kamiah, Idaho, the Center
for Action, said he was in Connecticut to investigate the case “with the
hopes of securing national media attention to Linda’s plight and
securing the release of the boys to her.” School authorities and the
Suffield police had been watching the two children closely the last few
weeks, after Thomas Wilkinson, the father of the 7-year-old boy and
stepfather of the 10-year-old, had alerted them of plans for a
kidnapping. A friend of Ms. Wiegand’s had told Wilkinson that Ms.
Wiegand was working with a group known as the Christian Militia to take
them back, Wilkinson said in an interview Tuesday.
The prosecutor, John H. Malone, said the authorities found pictures of
the two boys, their school schedules and letters belonging to Ms.
Wiegand in the Gritzes’ car, which was registered under a pseudonym Ms.
Wiegand has used.
Bo Gritz is something of an elder in militia circles. He gave regular
talks at militia meetings, where he peddled sets of paramilitary
training videos for $60, and has a newsletter and radio show, “Freedom
Calls,” which is broadcast on 43 stations.
He is perhaps
best-known for his role as a mediator in an 11-day stand-off in Ruby
Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, in which federal officials cornered a
survivalist, Randall Weaver in his home, after a shootout in which
Weaver’s wife and son and a deputy U.S. marshal were killed. Gritz
succeeded in persuading Weaver to give himself up.
More recently, Gritz, a retired Green Beret colonel who served in
Vietnam, tried to serve as a mediator in the dispute between the Freemen
and federal agents in Montana, though he ultimately left, frustrated by
the Freemen’s intransigence and views about the legal system differing
>from his own.
Over the last few years, Gritz, who was briefly David Duke’s running
mate in Duke’s 1988 presidential bid, has established an armed
“Christian Patriot” movement in Idaho and is developing several
“covenant communities” that he has said would be “off the umbilical,”
independent of the government.
Gritz has preached that an apocalypse is near, that a new world order
under the command of the United Nations is threatening Americans’
freedom and that a time is nearing when every citizen will have to
accept the “mark of the beast,” a bar-code implant in either the
forehead or the right hand.
He may have found a kindred spirit in Ms. Wiegand, whom her husband
described as a survivalist.
“Toward the end of our marriage, she more and more became involved in
beliefs that the end of the world was coming,” Wilkinson said. “She
distrusted the government, didn’t like the court system and was buying
nitrogen packed food and storing 55-gallon drums of water in the cellar.
Those types of beliefs would put her in touch with people like that.”
Rather than send her children to public schools, she preferred to
educate them at home, several people familiar with the case said
But aside from Ms. Wiegand’s philosophy, her case touched a nerve in
survivalist circles, and Jerry Gillespie, a close associate of Gritz’s,
said it has become the talk of right-wing radio shows.
Ms. Wiegand, the founder of a charity called Gifts of Love, accused her
husband of molesting the two boys, and when a Superior Court judge in
Hartford awarded him custody in 1994 as part of their divorce, she
disappeared with the boys. Three months ago, the FBI arrested her in Las
Vegas, and she was extradited toConnecticut, where she faces criminal
charges of interfering with the court’s custody order.
In its news release, the Center for Action, the group founded by Gritz,
said that Massachusetts and New York had ordered Wilkinson to give up
custody. And in Vermont, after Ms. Wiegand filed a complaint in the
early 1990s, Wilkinson was arrested on charges of sexual assault of a
minor. Those charges were dropped.
The release calls Wilkinson’s sister “a convicted pedophile” who is on
the national register of sex offenders, and said that she lives with
Wilkinson and three other men. “There appears to be some relationship to
a Satanic cult,” it said.
Malone, the prosecutor, dismissed such talk.
Judith C. Benedict, the court-appointed lawyer and legal guardian for
the two children, said the group’s charges against Wilkinson were
“I don’t know any evidence anywhere — and I’ve been involved in this
case for four years — that would support a single syllable in that
statement,” she said.
Ms. Benedict added that the Connecticut Superior Court had an
independent psychiatrist review the reports from Vermont and do his own
evaluation of the children, and he concluded that the charges had no
merit. Wilkinson’s sister has never been charged with sexual assault,
Associates of Gritz’s said he did not come to Connecticut to abduct the
In court Tuesday, Gritz and his son had bond set at $50,000 each, down
>from the $1 million Malone had requested. The two were expected to spend
the night in jail in Hartford before being released Wednesday,
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From [email protected] Thu Oct 3 11:04:42 PDT 1996
Article: 45597 of alt.politics.white-power
From: “Annie Alpert, OFB”
Subject: Bo Gritz under lock and key
Date: Wed, 02 Oct 1996 21:01:08 -0400
Organization: Freelance Flaming Conventionalist/Anarcho-Syndicalist
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