December 14, 2001 at 6:13 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 3:15 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) - A man suspected of sending fake anthrax letters to abortion clinics nationwide says he was planning another cross-country round of scares when he was arrested last week.
Clayton Lee Waagner, 45, who was one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives before his arrest at a copy shop in suburban Cincinnati, said he was programming computers to send messages by fax machine that had been designed to look as if they came from the FBI.
"They even had a little seal saying 'FBI' on the letterhead," Waagner (pictured, above) told The Plain Dealer in an interview published Friday.
The bogus government warnings were supposed to arrive simultaneously and say that each clinic contained a bomb. Workers would be told they had to flee without calling anyone because the phones could activate the bomb.
"Monday at noon I was going to send the faxes out. I think I could have shut down every clinic in the nation," Waagner said in a telephone interview from the Hamilton County Jail north of Cincinnati.
"I had it all assembled, put together," he said.
He will be arraigned Monday in federal court in Urbana, Ill., on charges he escaped from a jail in Clinton, Ill. on Feb. 22. A Jan. 24 sentencing date has been set on his convictions on charges of interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle and illegal possession of a firearm. He could be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on those charges; the escape could result in an additional 10-year sentence.
Waagner had been awaiting sentencing when he escaped.
In the past few months, Waagner is suspected of sending more than 550 anthrax-hoax letters to abortion clinics. The envelopes contained white powder and letters signed "Army of God." The powder was not anthrax.
Waagner was originally arrested in 1999 after entering Illinois with his wife and eight children in a stolen camper with four stolen handguns under the driver's seat, authorities said.
Waagner told the newspaper that he has threatened to kill abortion doctors, but he called the threats lies meant to throw the abortion industry into panic. He said he would not apologize "for making them scared to go to their cars at night."
Waagner said he thought about shooting doctors and was trying to work up his nerve during the summer to kill somebody. He said he changed his mind while hiding out on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania when he learned of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"I love America as much as anyone else," he said. "I just sat there in the woods. I couldn't move. I was in shock. That morning it hit me; I couldn't do it."
Rather than kill abortion doctors, he said, he decided to continue frightening them.
Waagner said he expects that his crime spree will land him in prison for the rest of his life, but said he had no regrets.
(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)