- (Photo: Ottawa County sheriff's department)
Gregory Arthur Weiler II, an Illinois man charged by authorities of plotting to firebomb dozens of churches with Molotov cocktails across Oklahoma will be tried in federal court, it was revealed on Wednesday.
"He's very sick," said Joanne Meyers, Weiler's aunt, according to the Associated Press. "We're very concerned he even understands what's happening to him."
Weiler was arrested in October 2012 under Oklahoma's anti-terrorist law for threatening to use an explosive on a church. Investigators found a written outline of a plan to bomb eight different churches across the state using Molotov cocktails, the motives for which still remain unclear.
The Illinois native could be sentenced for up to 10 years and charged $250,000 for his crimes, according to Joseph F. Wilson, the criminal chief for the U.S. attorney's office in the northern district of Oklahoma, AP reported. State charges were dropped against him after he was taken into federal custody on Wednesday.
Authorities apparently became aware of the 24-year-old man's plot after a maintenance man at a motel where Weiler was staying found a green duffel bag with bottles of cloth wicks and duct tape, as well an empty gas can, inside a trash bin outside the building, Tulsa World reported.
Joseph F. Wilson, the criminal chief for the U.S. attorney's office in the northern district of Oklahoma, said that Weiler pleaded not guilty to the charges. Family members had sad that the young man struggled with mental illness and may have stopped taking his medications before he was arrested in October, but he was deemed mentally capable of standing trial.
According to the Journal Online, Weiler's journal detailed how his goal was "destroying and removing church buildings from U.S. a tiny bit at a time." Family remembers also added that his parents committed suicide when he was 16, and that he has been receiving treatment for mental illness.
"He can't hurt anyone now," said unidentified family members in Elk Grove Village in Illinois, where the 24-year-old man is from.
"We really, really tried hard to love Greg and put up with his sort of sullen detachment … We poured a whole lot of love, a whole lot of time, a whole lot of prayer into trying to help him. I grieve because I really do love the kid," added Pastor Doug Perry of The Church of Liberty of Liberty, Mo., which Weiler used to attend.