Accused eco-saboteur wrote will before jail suicide
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – An Arizona man charged with eco-sabotage in Washington state who was also called a suspected in the 1998 Vail Mountain fires wrote his will in the days before he killed himself in his jail cell, according to sheriff’s officials.William C. Rodgers, 40, of Prescott, also wrote letters to friends during his last hours but none made reference to suicide or to any of the crimes he was suspected of committing, according to sheriff’s officials.Coconino County Sheriff’s Department detectives seized the writings for their investigation.Rodgers was one of six people arrested last month in suspected eco-sabotage attacks in Oregon and Washington in recent years. He was charged in the firebombing of a federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service facility outside Olympia, Wash.
In an affidavit filed in federal court in Oregon, an FBI agent said Rodgers attended a meeting of Earth Liberation Front members in western Colorado where the torching of Vail Mountain’s Two Elk restaurant and other buildings was planned, although he had not been charged in that case.Rodgers was awaiting transfer to Washington when he was found dead on Dec. 22. The county medical examiner determined that Rodgers suffocated after placing a plastic bag over his head.The will was dated Dec. 15 and was addressed to Rodgers’ Flagstaff attorney, David Barrow. Detectives said Barrow gave permission to open the envelope, which also contained some letters.Lt. Rex Gilliland said the letters were of a personal nature. Two were from Rodgers to his girlfriend in Prescott and two were addressed to supporters.Two of the letters mentioned prosecutors attempting to demonize him, Gilliland said.
Rodgers also mentioned that it was extremely important for people to refuse to testify in front of federal grand juries and that solidarity will make the government back down.Gilliland said the case will remain open pending the final autopsy results and toxicology tests.Barrow said Rodgers’ body was released to his parents and brother.Another Arizonan swept up in the case, Sarah Kendall Harvey, also known as Kendall Tankersley, was released from an Oregon jail Jan. 10 on $150,000 bond.
Tom Bauer, a spokesman for Northern Arizona University, said that Harvey has enrolled in two classes there this semester. She is no longer an employee of the university, Bauer said, adding that he was unable to comment further. Harvey was charged in a December 1998 fire at U.S. Forest Industries in Medford, Ore.Lee D. Foreman, a Denver-based attorney for Harvey, said his client will plead innocent.”Obviously, she’s very pleased to be out of jail,” Foreman said.Two more people have been charged in the federal investigation of a string of Northwest arsons claimed by the shadowy radical groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, authorities said Wednesday.Jonathan Paul, 39, was arrested Tuesday on charges that he helped firebomb a horsemeat packing plant in Redmond, Ore., in 1997, said Diane Peterson, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorneys office in Portland.Suzanne Savoie, 28, remained at large, Peterson said. She was charged with serving as a lookout for the 2001 firebombing of the offices of a lumber mill in Glendale, Ore.Each suspect faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.The ALF has claimed responsibility for the slaughterhouse fire. It caused an estimated $1 million in damage, but 100 horses in nearby corrals survived. Paul allegedly set the fire with the help of a woman, who was unnamed in the criminal complaint.The ELF claimed responsibility for the lumber mill fire.The two suspects bring to nine the number of people charged in a series of arsons from 1996 to 2001 in Oregon and Washington. They include torchings of two lumber mill offices, a tree farm, an SUV dealer and two federal research labs.Associted Press writer Jeff Barnard contributed to this article. Vail, Colorado