Four suspects charged in Vail fires
EUGENE, Ore. – Four suspects allegedly involved in the 1998 Vail fires – purportedly set by members of the Earth Liberation Front – were indicted Thursday on charges of conspiracy to commit arson, the U.S. Department of Justice reported Friday.
In all, indictments on 65 counts related to arsons in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming were handed down against a group of 11 people know as “the family” by a grand jury in Eugene, Ore.”The indictment tells a story of 4 1/2 years of arson, vandalism, violence and destruction claimed to have been executed on behalf of the Animal Liberation Front or Earth Liberation Front – extremist movements known to support acts of domestic terrorism,” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference Friday.The indictment alleges the group used incendiary devices to set fires across the five states, although specific devices used in the Vail fires were not disclosed.
Josephine Overaker, Kevin Tubbs, Stanislas Meyerhoff and Chelsea Gerlach were indicted on two charges of conspiracy to commit arson in the Vail fires. William Rodgers, who committed suicide in late December by suffocating himself, was named as a co-conspirator in the Vail fires.The indictment also alleges certain people sent a communique on Oct. 21, 1998 attributing the fires to the Earth Liberation Front.The Oct. 19, 1998 Vail fires destroyed or damaged Two Elk Lodge, Ski Patrol Headquarters, Camp I and four chair lifts. Total damage was estimated at $12 million.Two days later, the Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the fires, stating the Blue Sky expansion would ruin lynx habitat.Vail Resorts has since rebuilt Two Elk Restaurant, replaced the lifts and opened Blue Sky Basin.
Tubbs, Meyerhoff and Gerlach, 28, have been arrested. Overaker, along with two other alleged saboteurs not said to be involved in the Vail fires, are believed to be outside the country, the Department of Justice reported.”We’re working hard with a number of partners to find these individuals and bring them to justice here in the United States,” Gonzales said.Charges have not been filed by the Colorado division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado