Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.




Scott Philip ROEDER





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Anti-abortion activist
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 31, 2009
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: February 25, 1958
Victim profile: Dr. George Richard Tiller, 67
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber handgun)
Location: Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without any chance for parole for 50 years on April 1, 2010

photo gallery


Assassination of George Tiller

On May 31, 2009, George Tiller, a physician from Wichita, Kansas who was nationally known for being one of the few doctors in the United States to perform late-term abortions, was shot and killed by Scott Roeder.

Tiller was killed during a Sunday morning service at his church, Reformation Lutheran Church, where he was serving as an usher. Multiple action groups and media figures have labeled Tiller's killing an act of domestic terrorism and an assassination.

Roeder was arrested within three hours of the shooting and charged with first-degree murder and related crimes two days later. In November 2009 Roeder publicly confessed to the killing, telling the Associated Press that he had shot Tiller because "preborn children's lives were in imminent danger."

Roeder was found guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault on January 29, 2010, and sentenced on April 1, 2010, to life imprisonment without any chance for parole for 50 years.

Shooting and aftermath

George Tiller was shot to death on May 31, 2009, during worship services at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, where he was serving as an usher. The church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Tiller was shot in the head at point blank range; he was wearing body armor, as he had been since 1998, when the FBI told him he was being targeted by anti-abortion militants. After threatening two others who tried to prevent his departure, the gunman fled in a car. Witnesses described the vehicle as a powder-blue 1993 Ford Taurus.

Calling the murder "an abhorrent act of violence", U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced,

"Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation."

Arrest of murder suspect

Scott Philip Roeder (born February 25, 1958) from Merriam, Kansas, was arrested in Gardner, Kansas, some 170 miles away in suburban Kansas City three hours after the shooting. He was charged on June 2, 2009, with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Roeder was formally charged before a Sedgwick County district judge on June 2. He said very little during the hearing, where he asked for a public defender and did not enter a plea.

Prosecutors said the killing did not meet Kansas's standards for capital murder, which would have carried a possible death penalty. Prior to the shooting, Roeder was not among the people monitored as potential threats by some abortion rights groups, including the state chapter of the National Organization for Women. However, it has been reported that neither the FBI nor local police arrested him in the days leading up to the murder despite reports and evidence offered to both that he vandalized a women's clinic the week before and the day before.

In a telephone call from prison, Roeder confessed to the press that he had shot and killed Tiller, and declared that he felt no remorse.

Roeder's background

Known employment and psychiatric histories

In the six months before Roeder's arrest, he said he had worked for an airport shuttle service, a party-rental shop, a convenience store and a property management enterprise.

After his arrest, Roeder's ex-wife, Lindsey Roeder, claimed that Roeder had been suffering from mental illness and that about the age of 20 he was diagnosed with possible schizophrenia, but she offered her own diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Roeder claimed to be the father of a young child and asked for time for visitation but the mother of that child did not wish such visitation. The 2005 Pennsylvania family court which ruled on Roeder's custody petition regarding a daughter born in 2002 took formal notice that Roeder had been diagnosed with possible schizophrenia and was not on medication.

The Associated Press quoted Roeder's brother, David, who said that Scott had suffered from mental illness from time to time:

"However, none of us ever saw Scott as a person capable of or willing to take another person’s life. Our deepest regrets, prayers and sympathy go out to the Tiller family during this terrible time."

Anti-government activism

Scott Roeder had been a member of the anti-government Montana Freemen group. He was stopped in Topeka, Kansas, in April 1996 while displaying a placard reading "Sovereign Citizen" in lieu of a license plate. He had no driver's license, vehicle registration or proof of insurance. Police officers searching his car discovered explosives charges, a fuse cord, a pound of gunpowder and nine-volt batteries in the trunk. He was charged, represented by a public defender, convicted in June of all four counts and sentenced to 24 months probation.

In July 1997 his probation was revoked for failure to pay taxes and provide his social security number to his employer as well as other probation violations. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison to be followed by 24 months parole supervision. He filed notice of appeal and was represented by a state-funded appellate attorney who challenged the basis of the original search that found the bomb components. The Kansas Court of Appeals overturned this conviction in March 1998, ruling that the search of Roeder's car had been illegal and remanded the case to the trial court. Roeder was released after serving eight months.

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Roeder belonged to a group called the Sovereign Citizen Movement, which believes that virtually all existing government in the United States is illegitimate.[citation needed] The ADL's National Director Abraham Foxman stated that "Roeder's attachment to extreme causes extended beyond anti-abortion extremism. His extremism cross-pollinated between anti-government extremism and anti-abortion activism and led to violence and murder."

After being charged with murder, Roeder frequently called an Associated Press reporter from the county jail. He complained about being treated like a criminal and about his having been characterized in other media as having been anti-government. Roeder told the reporter, "I want people to stop and think: It is not anti-government, it is anti-corrupt-government."

Lindsey Roeder statements

Lindsey and Scott Roeder were married in 1986, and were together for 10 years. Immediately after his 2009 arrest, she stated that the explosives which led to his 1996 arrest had been intended for detonation at an abortion clinic.

On June 2, 2009, Lindsey Roeder gave an interview to Anderson Cooper of CNN about when and why her husband became radicalized:

"It was about 1991–92 when he basically couldn't cope with everyday life. He couldn't make ends meet, he couldn't pay the bills and didn't know why he couldn't do that. And someone told him that if he didn't pay his federal taxes, if those taxes were left in his check, he could make ends meet. And then he started investigating that and someone told him that it wasn't ratified properly in the Constitution, that it was illegal. And he went from there and got into the anti-government, got into the militia, got into the Freeman, and along those lines anti-abortion issues came up and he started becoming very religious in the sense that he finally – he was reading the Bible. But then, after we were divorced, his religion took on a whole new right wing of itself."

Anti-abortion militancy

David Leach, publisher of Prayer & Action News, a magazine that opines that the killing of abortion providers would be justifiable homicide, told reporters that he and Roeder had met once in the late 1990s and that Roeder at that time had authored contributions to Leach's publication.

Leach published the Army of God manual, which advocates the killing of the providers of abortion and contains bomb-making instructions, in the January 1996 issue of his magazine. A Kansas acquaintance of Roeder's, Regina Dinwiddie, told a reporter after Tiller's murder (speaking of Roeder), "I know that he believed in justifiable homicide." Dinwiddie, an anti-abortion militant featured in the 2000 HBO documentary Soldiers in the Army of God, added that she had observed Roeder in 1996 enter Kansas City Planned Parenthood's abortion clinic and ask to talk to the physician there; after staring at him for nearly a minute, Roeder said, "I’ve seen you now," before turning and walking away.

Roeder's former roommate of two years, Eddie Ebecher, who had met Roeder through the Freemen movement in the 1990s, told a reporter after Tiller's murder that he and Roeder had considered themselves members of the Army of God. Ebecher said Roeder was obsessed with Tiller and discussed killing him, but that Ebecher warned him not to do so. Ebecher, who went by the nom de guerre "Wolfgang Anacon," added that he believed Roeder held "high moral convictions in order to carry out this act. I feel that Scott had a burden for all the children being murdered."

In 2007, someone who identified himself as Scott Roeder posted on the website of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue that, "Tiller is the concentration camp 'Mengele' of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation." This was reported by the ADL's Center on Extremism, noting that Roeder called for "the closing of his death camp."

After Tiller's murder, officials from Operation Rescue, which had long opposed Tiller's abortion practices but denounced his shooting, said Roeder was not a contributor or member of the group.[29] The cell phone number for Operation Rescue's senior policy advisor, convicted clinic bomb plotter Cheryl Sullenger, was found on the dashboard of Scott Roeder's car. At first, Operation Rescue's senior policy advisor Cheryl Sullenger denied any contact with Roeder, saying that her phone number is freely available online. Then, she revised her statements, indicating that Roeder’s interest was in court hearings involving Tiller.

"He would call and say, 'When does court start? When’s the next hearing?' I was polite enough to give him the information. I had no reason not to. Who knew? Who knew, you know what I mean?"

Roeder reportedly attended the 2009 trial in which Tiller was acquitted of violating state abortion laws; Roeder called the trial "a sham" and felt the justice system failed in letting Tiller go free.

On May 30, one day before Tiller was killed, a worker at a Kansas City clinic told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Roeder had tried gluing the locks of the clinic shut, something Roeder was suspected of doing there before years earlier. The Kansas City Star reported that a man of Roeder's description had glued the locks shut at the Central Family Medicine clinic in Kansas City on May 23 and May 30.

Reactions to Tiller's killing

President Barack Obama said, "I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."

A number of other organizations also condemned the murder. Cardinal Justin Rigali of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated

"Our bishops' conference and all its members have repeatedly and publicly denounced all forms of violence in our society, including abortion as well as the misguided resort to violence by anyone opposed to abortion. Such killing is the opposite of everything we stand for, and everything we want our culture to stand for: respect for the life of each and every human being from its beginning to its natural end. We pray for Dr. Tiller and his family."

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, condemned the killing, saying,

"We are stunned at today's news. As Christians we pray and look toward the end of all violence and for the saving of souls, not the taking of human life. George Tiller was a man who we publicly sought to stop through legal and peaceful means. We strongly condemn the actions taken today by this vigilante killer and we pray for the Tiller family and for the nation that we might once again be a nation that values all human life, both born and unborn."

The American Jewish Congress stated in a press release that Tiller's murder "exemplifies criminal anarchy, not legitimate protest. Dr. Tiller’s murder was not just a terrible crime against an individual. It was also a crime against our democracy... Murder is not a debating technique. It is never, and must never be, an accepted way of advancing a point of view." The National Council of Jewish Women also condemned the murder, with President Nancy Ratzan stating that "Dr. Tiller devoted his life to ensuring that women did indeed have choices when confronted with an unintended or untenable pregnancy. His murder – his assassination – is intended to terrorize not only all involved with providing abortions but anyone even remotely associated with abortion rights." The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism also condemned Tiller's murder.

Other reactions included:

David N. O’Steen, director the National Right to Life Committee released this statement on May 31, 2009:

"National Right to Life extends its sympathies to Dr. Tiller’s family over this loss of life. Further, the National Right to Life Committee unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation. The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life. The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal."

Operation Rescue released this statement on May 31, 2009:

"We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

Mary Kay Culp, director of Kansans for Life, said that the organization "deplores the murder of Dr. George Tiller, and we wish to express our deep and sincere sympathy to his family and friends. We value life, completely deplore violence, and are shocked and very upset by what happened in Wichita today."

Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, said:

"George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder. Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."

Wiley Drake, vice-presidential candidate for the America's Independent Party ticket in 2008 and the second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006–2007, asked on his radio show, "Would you have rejoiced when Adolf Hitler died during the war? ... I would have said, 'Amen! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! I'm glad he's dead.' This man, George Tiller, was far greater in his atrocities than Adolf Hitler, so I am happy; I am glad that he is dead." Anti-abortion militants The Army of God, a group that promotes "leaderless resistance" as its organizing principle, issued a statement calling Tiller's presumed killer an "American hero."

Pointing out what he saw as a philosophical problem with "non-violent" right-to-lifism, Reason columnist Jacob Sullum wrote "if you honestly believe abortion is the murder of helpless children, it's hard to see why using deadly force against those who carry it out is immoral, especially since the government refuses to act." William Saletan, Jacob Appel, Colby Cosh, and Damon Linker similarly questioned the pro-life movement's consistency in condemning Tiller's murder.

Some commentators argued that the treatment of the murder, by both the White House and the media, was absurdly disproportionate. The day after the murder, two soldiers were attacked at an Army recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas: one died; the other suffered injuries. Comparing this incident with the Tiller murder, Michelle Malkin wrote,

"Tiller's suspected murderer, Scott Roeder, was white, Christian, anti-government, and anti-abortion. The gunman in the military recruiting center attack, Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, was black, a Muslim convert, anti-military, and anti-American. Both crimes are despicable, cowardly acts of domestic terrorism. But the disparate treatment of the two brutal cases by both the White House and the media is striking."

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal found fault with this view, claiming that its proponents failed to acknowledge that the crimes were different in nature and, therefore, in public import. Although equally "abhorrent",

"in the hierarchy of public significance, assassinations rank higher than hate crimes, which in turn rank higher than "ordinary" murders. The murder of Martin Luther King was bigger news, and is a more important part of history, than any individual lynching, even though both were atrocious crimes spurred by similar ideological motives."

Taranto also felt that the President's sentiments on the cases could be read quite differently: although his condemnation of the Tiller killing was worded far more strongly, it was only to the soldiers and their kin that condolences and sympathy were proffered, in spite of the fact that Tiller's wife was present at her husband's death. "If anything," Taranto opined, the statement was somewhat "cowardly", and the pains to which he went to appease the pro-life school were duly noted.

Another response to Malkin's charge of "disparate treatment of the two brutal cases" has been that the true disparity was the mass media's downplaying of Roeder's Christianity. In this view, major media outlets "relegate Mr. Roeder’s religious motivation to the margins, while all play up Mr. Muhammad’s connections to Islam."

Fox News Channel commentator Bill O'Reilly has also been accused of demonizing Tiller, e.g. calling him "Tiller the Baby Killer". Blogger John McCormack has argued that there is no evidence to support this claim and no evidence to show that O'Reilly condones vigilantism, while R. J. Eskow has argued that some responsibility may rest with O'Reilly.

On June 9, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter sponsored a House resolution condemning the murder of Tiller, which was unanimously passed.

Several pro-life groups claimed to have received death threats in the aftermath of the shooting, some of them threatening "vengeance" against the pro-life movement.

Although most anti-abortion activists avoided Tiller's funeral, 17 members from the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral. The church members held signs that read "God sent the shooter", "Abortion is bloody murder", and "Baby Killer in Hell".

Trial of Scott Roeder

On June 2, 2009, the District Attorney of the 18th Judicial District of the State of Kansas filed charges on behalf of the State of Kansas against Scott Roeder consisting of one count first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. A preliminary hearing was held in Wichita on July 28, 2009.

Judge Warren Wilbert ruled on January 8, 2010, that he would allow Roeder's defense team to argue for a voluntary manslaughter conviction, which in Kansas is defined as killing with "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force."

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday, January 11, 2010, but was delayed after prosecutors challenged the judge's decision to allow the defense to build a case for a lesser charge. Selection proceedings began in closed session on January 12, 2010. Judge Wilbert had ordered jury selection closed to the public and press citing fears jurors would be less than truthful if questioned in public. However, the Kansas State Supreme Court overturned his order, although parts of the questions to individual jurors remained private.

The court heard opening statements on January 22, 2010.

The defense had asked the court to hear the testimony of the former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and Barry Disney, a current member of that office. Both had previously tried to convict Tiller of providing illegal late-term abortions. The judge, however, upon previewing the testimony of Kline, disallowed his testimony pointing out such abortions are legal in Kansas and citing the possibility of prejudicing the jury.

Scott Roeder took the stand in his own defense on January 28, 2010. At the outset, he admitted to killing Tiller, defending his act as an attempt to save unborn children and giving his views on abortion. Under questioning by his attorney, he attempted to describe abortion practices in detail but was repeatedly halted by objections based on his lack of medical expertise.

Following Roeder's testimony on the stand, Judge Wilbert ruled that the jury would not have the voluntary manslaughter option.

On January 29, 2010, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all three charges after less than 40 minutes of deliberation.

On April 1, 2010, in Wichita, Kansas, Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert sentenced Roeder to a "Hard 50", meaning no possibility of parole for 50 years, for the murder of Tiller, the maximum sentence available in Kansas.

Cultural references

Tiller's assassination inspired an episode of the television legal drama Law & Order entitled "Dignity". In that episode, an anti-abortion activist murdered a doctor who performed late-term abortions in New York. The defense said it was a justifiable homicide, since the murderer did it in order to prevent the doctor from performing a late-term abortion in a specific woman, hence, he did it in defense of another human being. In the end, the jury decided that the defendant was guilty of murder in the first degree. The episode's reception was polarized: the pro-life blogosphere appreciated the episode's handling of the abortion issue as a whole, while many pro-choice sources condemned the episode.

The aftermath of Tiller's death is also the subject of the 2013 documentary After Tiller, which follows the lives of four other late-term abortion providers after Tiller's assassination.


Scott Roeder gets Hard 50 in murder of abortion provider George Tiller

By Ron Sylvester - The Wichita Eagle

March 31, 2010

It took only 37 minutes to convict Scott Roeder of murder in January; it took nine hours Thursday to sentence him.

As expected, Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert sentenced Roeder, 52, to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years for the murder of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.

“I have to say, Scott Roeder has no regrets and neither do I,” District Attorney Nola Foulston said afterward.

“As I listened to Mr. Roeder, it confirmed my belief he is a person who should not be in our community.”

During the hearing, Roeder interrupted lawyers and the judge and also spoke for 45 minutes in an attempt to mitigate his sentence. He read for 30 minutes from a book written by a man executed for killing an abortion doctor in Florida and compared his plight to that of Jesus Christ.

“The blood of babies is on your hands, Nola Foulston . . . and Ann Swegle,” Roeder yelled at prosecutors as sheriff’s deputies pushed him out of the courtroom after he was sentenced.

Roeder’s sentence was the maximum allowed under Kansas law.

“This crime was cruel and heinous, not only because it took our husband, father and grandfather, but because it was a hate crime committed against George — against all women and their constitutional rights,” Tiller’s family said through attorney Lee Thompson after the hearing ended.

During Roeder’s trial, a jury came back by lunch on Jan. 29 with a guilty verdict against Roeder, convicting him of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in the May 31 shooting of Tiller in the foyer of his church.

Entering Thursday’s hearing, a life sentence was never in doubt. That’s mandated under Kansas law.

The only question was whether Roeder would be eligible for parole after 25 years or 50.

At day’s end, Wilbert decided to impose the so-called Hard 50. He also sentenced Roeder to a year on each count of aggravated assault — for pointing his gun at Gary Hoepner and Keith Martin as they chased him from the church after Tiller’s killing.

Wilbert ordered those sentences to run consecutively to the Hard 50. Wilbert said that if Roeder lives past 102 then gets parole, he also faces lifetime supervision after his release.

‘This was a difficult case,’’ Foulston said outside the courthouse. “The difficulty was apparent from the emotion that rang across the courtroom, across our community and across the world.”

Thompson said the family wanted to focus on Tiller’s legacy as a health care provider who trusted women to make the choices that would affect their health and lives.

“Dr. Tiller’s story is being told every day in the lives of the women he helped. His legacy cannot be diminished by the act of a single terrorist,” Thompson said.

Thompson also addressed the court on the family’s behalf, as is their right at sentencing, talking about Tiller’s love for his family.

“George Tiller was known as an abortion doctor . . . but he was so much more than that,” Thompson said.

“This man did nothing halfway. He was never a halfway father,” Thompson said. “This murder has extinguished this family devotion.”

During Thompson’s address, Roeder stared straight ahead, not looking at Thompson or the Tiller family.

A full day in court

Roeder called four friends who had protested with him outside women’s clinics in Kansas City as character witnesses.

Judge Wilbert strongly admonished each of them that he would not allow them to make political statements about abortion.

“Everyone I’ve talked to about Scott said he was never threatening or mean-spirited to them,” said Eugene Frye, who quoted Bible verses about Roeder’s anti-abortion beliefs.

“Not one time did I ever hear him speak of violence to anyone,” Frye added.

Throughout the day Roeder interrupted lawyers and the judge, yelling that he killed Tiller “to protect unborn babies.”

During his statement, Roeder read from prepared remarks for 45 minutes, 30 of which he spent reading from a book by Paul Hill, executed for the 1994 murder of a Florida abortion provider.

When Roeder began to disparage Foulston, Wilbert stopped him.

“You killed Dr. Tiller. You’re not going to politically assassinate Nola Foulston,” the judge said. “I’m going to draw the line there.”

Public defenders Steve Osburn and Mark Rudy objected to Wilbert limiting Roeder’s chance to address the court.

“This is what he believes,” Osburn said. “This is what he thinks you need to decide on a sentence.”

Wilbert reviewed the documents that Roeder wished to read before the court. Wilbert said some were not relevant.

“I will accept them and seal them, and they will be part of the record,” Wilbert said.

That way the appeals courts can decide whether it all should have been presented in open court, he said.

Roeder spoke of a higher power, how he followed God’s laws, not man’s laws, when it came to abortion.

“If you would follow a higher power, you would acquit me,” Roeder told Wilbert.

“If you think you’re going to convince me with some last-minute plea, you’re wasting your time,” Wilbert said.

When Roeder said he wanted to address expectant mothers, Wilbert stopped him again.

“I’m not going to provide you with an all-night political forum,” Wilbert said as the hearing, which began at 9:15a.m., neared 5 p.m.

Prosecutor Ann Swegle argued that Roeder does not follow the law of the God he claims to worship.

“That says ‘Do not kill,’ ” Swegle said.

Psychologist testifies

Psychologist George Hough from Topeka said Roeder adopted extreme Christian beliefs in the early 1990s and began to obsess about abortion.

“He described an increasing sense of urgency to take action,” said Hough, who was called to testify by the defense.

“He saw himself as a foot soldier,” Hough said, adding that Roeder used war imagery in the way he talked about it.

On cross-examination, Swegle asked the psychologist whether Roeder “could act on his own free will.”

“Yes,” Hough replied.


Jury rejects argument that killing abortion doctor saved unborn, convicts Scott Roeder of Kansas City of murdering Dr. George Tiller

January 29, 2010

WICHITA, Kan. — A man who said he killed prominent Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in order to save the lives of unborn children was convicted Friday of murder.

The jury deliberated for just 37 minutes before finding Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., guilty of premeditated, first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting death.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years when he is sentenced March 9. Prosecutor Nola Foulston said she would pursue a so-called "Hard 50" sentence, which would require Roeder to serve at least 50 years before he can be considered for parole.

Tiller's widow, Jeanne, and the rest of the family quickly exited the courtroom after the verdict. In a statement, Jeanne Tiller said "once again, a Sedwick County jury has reached a just verdict."

The family said it wanted Tiller to be "remembered for his legacy of service to women, the help he provided for those who needed it and the love and happiness he provided us as a husband, father and grandfather."

Roeder had confessed publicly before the trial and admitted again on the witness stand that he shot Tiller in the head in the foyer of the Wichita church where the doctor was serving as an usher. He testified he felt the lives of unborn children were in "immediate danger" because of Tiller.

Roeder sat straightforward as the verdict was read, showing no visible reaction as he moved his head toward the judge and to the jury as each juror confirmed the verdict. He also was convicted of aggravated assault for pointing a gun at two ushers after the shooting.

Roeder's attorneys were hoping to get a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter for Roeder, a defense that would have required them to show that Roeder had an unreasonable but honest belief that deadly force was justified.

But after hearing Roeder testify, District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled that his lawyers failed to show that Tiller posed an imminent threat and the jury could not consider such a verdict.

Tiller was one of the nation's few providers of late-term abortions, and his Wichita clinic was the focus of many protests. It also had been under investigation by a former state district attorney who accused Tiller of skirting Kansas' abortion laws.

Prosecutors were careful during the first few days of testimony to avoid the subject of abortion and to focus on the specifics of the shooting. Wilbert said he did not want the trial to become a debate on abortion, but he did allow Roeder to discuss his views on the subject because his attorneys said they were integral to their case.

Roeder, the lone defense witness, testified Thursday that he considered elaborate schemes to stop Tiller, including chopping off his hands, crashing a car into him or sneaking into his home to kill him.

But in the end, Roeder told jurors, the easiest way was to walk into Tiller's church, put a gun to the man's forehead and pull the trigger.

"Those children were in immediate danger if someone did not stop George Tiller," Roeder said. "They were going to continue to die."

He testified that he wrapped the .22-caliber handgun in a piece of cloth and buried it in a rural area. The weapon has not been recovered.


Scott Roeder, Abortion Doctor Murder Suspect, Warns Of More Violence

By Roxana Hegeman -

June 8, 2009

WICHITA, Kan. — The man charged with murdering a high-profile abortion doctor claimed from his jail cell Sunday that similar violence was planned around the nation for as long as the procedure remained legal, a threat that comes days after a federal investigation launched into his possible accomplices.

A Justice Department spokesman said the threat was being taken seriously and additional protection had been ordered for abortion clinics last week. But a leader of the anti-abortion movement derided the accused shooter as "a fruit and a lunatic."

Scott Roeder called The Associated Press from the Sedgwick County jail, where he's being held on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault in the shooting of Dr. George Tiller one week ago.

"I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal," Roeder said. When asked by the AP what he meant and if he was referring to another shooting, he refused to elaborate further.

It wasn't clear whether Roeder knew of any impending violence or whether he was simply seeking publicity for his cause. Law enforcement authorities including the Justice Department said they didn't know whether the threat was credible.

Tiller's clinic in Wichita was among only a few in the U.S. that perform third-trimester abortions. He was shot while serving as an usher at the Lutheran church he attended.

Asked if he shot Tiller, Roeder replied that he could not comment about that and said he needed to clear everything with his lawyer.

Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a written statement Sunday that "we take this matter seriously, which is why the Attorney General ordered increased protection of appropriate people and facilities last week."

Tiller's clinic had been a target of regular demonstrations by abortion opponents. Most were peaceful, but his clinic was bombed in 1986 and he was shot in both arms in 1993. In 1991, a 45-day "Summer of Mercy" campaign organized by Operation Rescue drew thousands of abortion opponents to Wichita, and there were more than 2,700 arrests.

The Justice Department opened an investigation Friday to see if the gunman who killed Tiller had accomplices. The DOJ said its Civil Rights Division and the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas will investigate whether the killing violated a 1994 law creating criminal penalties for violent or damaging conduct toward abortion providers and their patients.

An attorney for the Tiller family, Dan Monnat, said he wasn't sure they should be dignifying Roeder's actions and threats with a response "every time he makes a hare-brained phone call."

"I am hopeful that state and federal authorities, including Homeland Security, will give Mr. Roeder and his information a deserving response," Monnat said, declining to elaborate.

Nancy Keenan president of NARAL-Pro-Choice America, said Roeder's comments "continue to escalate that kind of activity, that kind of violence. Quite honestly, I think it's imperative for anti-choice groups to tone down that rhetoric and keep the more extreme elements in their movement form copying Scott Roeder."

A funeral was held Saturday for Tiller. Most anti-abortion groups avoided the service, having denounced Tiller's shooting.

Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, read about Roeder's statement and e-mailed The Associated Press, saying: "This guy is a fruit and a lunatic."

Roeder, a 51-year-old abortion opponent, was arrested a few hours after the shooting just outside Kansas City.

He told the AP he refused to talk to investigators when he was arrested, and has made no statements to police since then.

"I just told them I needed to talk to my lawyer," Roeder said.

In two separate calls to AP on Sunday morning, Roeder was far more talkative about his treatment at the Sedgwick County jail, complaining about "deplorable conditions in solitary" where he was kept during his first three days there.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said that Roeder is receiving appropriate medical treatment.

"It is after all a jail, but a modern state-of-the-art facility with professional staff," Hinshaw said. "While Mr. Roeder may not care for being in the Sedgwick County jail, all of our conditions and policies are designed to provide safety and security for all inmates, staff and public at large."

Roeder said it was freezing in his cell. "I started having a bad cough. I thought I was going to have pneumonia," he said.

He said he called AP because he wanted to emphasize the conditions in the jail so that in the future suspects would not have to endure the same conditions.

Roeder also said he wanted the public to know he has been denied phone privileges for the past two days, and needed his sleep apnea machine.

Hinshaw disputed that phone privileges had been denied.


Abortion Doctor Shot to Death in Kansas Church

By Joe Stumpe and Monica Davey - The New York Times

May 31, 2009

WICHITA, Kan. — George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in the nation who performed abortions late in pregnancy, was shot to death here Sunday in the foyer of his longtime church as he handed out the church bulletin.

The authorities said they took a man into custody later in the day after pulling him over about 170 miles away on Interstate 35 near Kansas City. They said they expected to charge him with murder on Monday.

The Wichita police said there were several witnesses to the killing, but law enforcement officials would not say what had been said, if anything, inside the foyer. Officials offered little insight into the motive, saying that they believed it was “the act of an isolated individual” but that they were also looking into “his history, his family, his associates.”

A provider of abortions for more than three decades, Dr. Tiller, 67, had become a focal point for those around the country who opposed it. In addition to protests outside his clinic, his house and his church, Dr. Tiller had once seen his clinic bombed; in 1993, an abortion opponent shot him in both arms. He was also the defendant in a series of legal challenges intended to shut down his operations, including two grand juries that were convened after citizen-led petition drives.

On Sunday morning, moments after services had begun at Reformation Lutheran Church, Dr. Tiller, who was acting as an usher, was shot once with a handgun, the authorities said. The gunman pointed the weapon at two people who tried to stop him, the police said, then drove off in a powder-blue Taurus. Dr. Tiller’s wife, Jeanne, a member of the church choir, was inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting.

The police in Wichita described the man who was detained as a 51-year-old from Merriam, a Kansas City suburb, but declined to give his name until he was charged. The Associated Press reported that a sheriff’s official from Johnson County, Kan., where the man was taken into custody, identified him as Scott Roeder.

The killing of Dr. Tiller is likely to return the issue of abortion to center stage in the nation’s political debate. Until recently, President Obama, who supports abortion rights, had largely sought to avoid the debate. Last month, he confronted the issue in a commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, an appearance that drew protests because of his views. During the speech, he appealed to each side to respect one another’s basic decency and to work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Mr. Obama issued a statement after Dr. Tiller’s killing, saying, “However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”

Advocates of abortion rights denounced the killing, saying it would send a renewed, frightening signal to others who provide abortions or work in clinics and to women who may consider abortions. Some described Dr. Tiller as one of about only three doctors in the country who had, under certain circumstances, provided abortions to women in their third trimester of pregnancy, and said his death would mean that women, particularly in the central United States, would have few if any options in such cases.

“This is a tremendous loss on so many levels,” said Peter B. Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, who had known Dr. Tiller for years.

Opponents of abortion, including those here who have been most vociferous in their protests of Dr. Tiller and his work, also expressed outrage at the shooting and said they feared that their groups might be wrongly judged by the act.

Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group based in Wichita, said he had always sought out “nonviolent” measures to challenge Dr. Tiller, including efforts in recent years to have him prosecuted for crimes or investigated by state health authorities.

“Operation Rescue has worked tirelessly on peaceful, nonviolent measures to bring him to justice through the legal system, the legislative system,” Mr. Newman said, adding, “We are pro-life, and this act was antithetical to what we believe.”

By late Sunday, Mr. Newman said, some were already suggesting that there were links between the suspect and Operation Rescue. Someone named Scott Roeder had made posts to the group’s blog in the past, Mr. Newman said, but “he is not a friend, not a contributor, not a volunteer.”

Dr. Tiller’s death is the first such killing of an abortion provider in this country since 1998, when Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot by a sniper in his home in the Buffalo area. Dr. Tiller was the fourth doctor in the United States who performed abortions to be killed in such circumstances since 1993, statistics from abortion rights’ groups show.

Although most of the deadly violence occurred in the 1990s, advocates said, abortion clinics and doctors have continued to be the targets of intense, sometimes threatening protests. Some said they feared that Dr. Tiller’s death might signal a return to the earlier level of violence. At some clinics on Sunday, administrators were reviewing their security precautions.

Adam Watkins, 20, one of the church members, told The A.P. he was seated in the middle of the congregation when he heard a small pop at the start of the service. An usher came in and told the congregation to remain seated, and then escorted Mrs. Tiller out. “When she got to the back doors, we heard her scream,” Mr. Watkins said.

Dr. Tiller had long been at the center of the abortion debate here, one that rarely seemed to quiet much in this southern Kansas city of about 358,000.

In 1993, Rachelle Shannon, from rural Oregon, shot Dr. Tiller in both arms. Two years earlier, during Operation Rescue’s “Summer of Mercy” protests, thousands of anti-abortion protesters tried to block off the clinic, the site of a bombing in 1986.

Friends of Dr. Tiller also described regular incidents of vandalism at the clinic, and a barrage of threats to him and his family — threats they say had concerned him deeply for years.

Family members, including 4 children and 10 grandchildren, issued a statement through Dr. Tiller’s lawyer, which read in part: “George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality health care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere.”

In recent years, Dr. Tiller had also been the focus of efforts by anti-abortion groups and others — including a former state attorney general, Phill Kline — who wished to see him prosecuted for what they considered violations of state law in cases of late-term abortions.

Two grand juries, summoned by citizen-led petition drives, looked into Dr. Tiller’s practices, including questions of whether he met a state law requirement that abortions at or after 22 weeks of pregnancy be limited to circumstances where a fetus would not be viable or a woman would otherwise face “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” — words whose interpretation were at the root of much debate.

This year, Dr. Tiller was acquitted in a case that raised questions about whether he was too closely tied to a doctor from whom he sought second opinions in abortion cases. As recently as this spring, the State Board of Healing Arts was investigating a similar complaint against him.

Joe Stumpe reported from Wichita, Kan., and Monica Davey from Chicago.


Jurors Acquit Kansas Doctor in a Late-Term Abortion Case

By Joe Stumpe - The New York Times

March 27, 2009

WICHITA, Kan. — After years of investigations and four days of testimony, jurors here took just 45 minutes on Friday to acquit a controversial abortion doctor of charges that he performed 19 illegal late-term abortions in 2003.

Kansas law permits late-term abortions when two independent doctors agree that the pregnant woman would be irreparably harmed by giving birth.

Prosecutors charged that the doctor, George Tiller, had an improper financial relationship with a doctor from Lawrence, Kristin Neuhaus, who provided a second opinion in the 19 cases cited.

Dr. Tiller’s clinic is one of three in the United States that perform late-term abortions, and he has been reviled by anti-abortion forces for decades.

In 1986, a bomb exploded on the roof of his clinic here, Women’s Health Care Services. In 1991, some 2,000 protesters were arrested outside during summer-long protests; in 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot in both arms by an anti-abortion activist while driving away from the clinic. Protests continue there almost daily.

“It’s been a long ordeal for his patients, Dr. Tiller and his family,” the lead defense lawyer, Dan Monnat, said Friday outside the courtroom. “They’re just happy it’s over.”

Dr. Tiller could have faced a year in jail and a $2,500 fine on each of 19 counts.

Two dozen law officers stationed themselves in the courtroom to maintain order as the verdict was read, and spectators, most of whom identified themselves as abortion opponents, were searched before entering. A few appeared to pray, but there were no outbursts. Anti-abortion protesters demonstrated outside the courthouse all week.

The Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, called the verdict “a setback.” Mr. Mahoney said that had jurors voted for conviction, “they would have put him out of business.” But Mr. Mahoney, who had predicted that the trial would “energize” anti-abortion forces, said it was a “very technical case” that was not relevant to other legal and legislative challenges to abortion.

Assistant Attorney General Barry Disney, who prosecuted Dr. Tiller, said the quick verdict probably resulted from the fact that the issue before jurors was clear and concise. “There wasn’t a lot for them to go back there and argue,” Mr. Disney said.

During testimony, both Dr. Tiller and Dr. Neuhaus, the only witness called by prosecutors, denied that there was anything improper about their financial relationship. Dr. Neuhaus testified that she misspoke during a 2006 deposition when she called herself a “full-time consultant” for Dr. Tiller.

The trial is not the end of Dr. Tiller’s legal problems. The state Board of Healing Arts is investigating a complaint that mirrors the accusations made in the trial.


George Richard Tiller, MD (August 8, 1941 – May 31, 2009) was an American physician from Wichita, Kansas. He gained national attention as the medical director of Women's Health Care Services, one of only three clinics nationwide to provide late-term abortions at the time.

During his tenure with the center, which began in 1975 and continued the medical practice of his father, Tiller was frequently targeted with protest and violence by anti-abortion groups and individuals. After his clinic was firebombed in 1986, Tiller was shot in both arms by anti-abortion activist Shelley Shannon in 1993.

On May 31, 2009, Tiller was shot through the eye and killed by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder, as Tiller served as an usher during the Sunday morning service at his church in Wichita. Roeder was convicted of murder on January 29, 2010, and sentenced to life imprisonment.


George Tiller studied at the University of Kansas School of Medicine from 1963 to 1967. Shortly thereafter, he held a medical internship with United States Navy, and served as flight surgeon in Camp Pendleton, California, in 1969 and 1970.

In July 1970, he planned to start a dermatology residency. However on August 21, 1970, his parents, sister and brother-in-law were killed in an aircraft accident. In her will, his sister requested that Tiller take care of her one-year-old son. Tiller had intended to go back to Wichita, close up his father's family practice and then go back to become a dermatologist. However, he quickly felt pressure to take over his father's family practice. Tiller's father had performed abortions at his practice. After hearing about a woman who had died from an illegal abortion, Tiller stayed in Wichita to continue his father's practice.

Tiller's practice performed late-term abortions, which made Tiller a focal point for anti-abortion protest and violence. Tiller treated patients who discovered late in pregnancy that their fetuses had severe or fatal birth defects. He also aborted healthy late-term fetuses in cases where two doctors certified that carrying the fetus to term would cause the woman "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

His practice frequently made him the focus of anti-abortion groups. The Kansas Coalition for Life kept a daily vigil outside Tiller's facility from May 9, 2004, until May 31, 2009. The group known as Operation Rescue held an event called 'The Summer of Mercy' in July and August 1991, focusing on Tiller's clinic but also protesting other abortion providers in Wichita, Kansas. Years later, a branch that split from the main Operation Rescue group moved from California to Kansas specifically to focus on Tiller, initially named Operation Rescue West.

Kansas law prohibits abortions after the beginning of fetal viability unless two doctors certify that continuing the pregnancy would cause the woman "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." The two consulting doctors must not be "financially affiliated" with the doctor doing the abortion. Tiller was charged with 19 misdemeanors for allegedly consulting a second physician in late-term abortion cases who was not truly "unaffiliated".

The case became a cause célèbre for both supporters and opponents of abortion. WorldNet Daily Columnist Jack Cashill compared the trial to the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, while New York University Professor Jacob Appel described Tiller as "a genuine hero who ranks alongside Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. in the pantheon of defenders of human liberty." The trial took place in March 2009, with the jury finding Tiller not guilty on all charges on March 27, approximately two months before his death.

Violence directed at Tiller

Throughout his career, Tiller was a frequent target of anti-abortion violence. In June 1986, his clinic was firebombed. While it was being rebuilt, Tiller displayed a sign reading "Hell no, we won't go". On August 19, 1993, Shelley Shannon shot Tiller five times, while he was in his car. At the time she attacked Tiller, Shannon had been an anti-abortion activist for five years and had written letters of support to the convicted murderer Michael Griffin, who had murdered David Gunn. She called him "a hero."

At her trial in state court, Shannon testified that there was nothing wrong with trying to kill Tiller. The jury convicted Shannon of attempted murder, and she was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The following year, however, Shannon was sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison on charges of arson, interference with commerce by force and interstate travel in aid of racketeering in connection to her participation in several fires and acid attacks on abortion clinics.

Tiller was also discussed in 28 episodes of the Fox News talk show The O'Reilly Factor before his death in May 2009, focusing national attention on his practice. He was sometimes described as "Tiller the Baby Killer"; show host Bill O'Reilly did not invent the nickname; previously, Congressman Robert K. Dornan had used it on the floor of Congress. O'Reilly said he would not want to be Tiller, Kathleen Sebelius, and other pro-choice Kansas politicians "if there is a judgment day."

On November 3, 2006, O'Reilly featured an exclusive segment on The O'Reilly Factor, saying that he had an "inside source" with official clinic documentation indicating that Tiller performed late-term abortions to alleviate "temporary depression" in pregnant woman. Although O'Reilly later denied it after Tiller was murdered, he repeatedly referred to the doctor as "Dr. Killer" and "Tiller the baby killer." He characterized the doctor as "a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly," and "operating a death mill." He accused Tiller of protecting the rapists of children, and portrayed him as being a killer beyond the reach of the law: "[O'Reilly] repeatedly portrayed the doctor as a murderer on the loose, allowed to do whatever he wanted by corrupt and decadent authorities." He suggested that Tiller performed abortions for women who had "a bit of a headache or anxiety" or "feeling a bit blue." Writers have pointed out that O'Reilly put Tiller into the public eye of a movement known for assaults and the killings of abortion doctors.

Assassination in May 2009

Tiller was fatally shot through the eye at close range and killed on May 31, 2009, by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder during worship services at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, where he was serving as an usher and handing out church bulletins. After threatening to shoot two people who initially pursued him, Roeder fled and escaped in a car. Three hours after the shooting, Roeder was arrested about 170 miles (270 km) away in suburban Kansas City.

On June 2, 2009, Roeder was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in connection with the shooting, subsequently convicted in January 2010 on those charges, and sentenced on April 1, 2010, to life imprisonment without parole for 50 years, the maximum sentence available in Kansas.

Tiller's killing was largely condemned by groups and individuals on both sides of the abortion issue. US President Barack Obama said he was "shocked and outraged" by the murder. David N. O'Steen, director of the National Right to Life Committee, said the group "unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation."

Some others who spoke publicly were more confrontational. Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry described Tiller as a mass murderer and said of other abortion providers, "We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches," and Southern Baptist minister and radio host Wiley Drake said, "I am glad that he is dead."

After the shooting, Tiller's colleague, Leroy Carhart of Nebraska, stated that Tiller's clinic, Women's Health Care Services, would reopen after being closed for one week to mourn his death.[40] The following week, Tiller's family announced that the clinic would be closed permanently.

In October 2010, it was reported that a federal grand jury is investigating whether Tiller's murder was connected to a broader case involving radical anti-abortion activists, according to a federal law enforcement official familiar with the case.

The aftermath of Tiller's assassination was the subject of the 2013 documentary After Tiller, which followed the daily lives and work of the four remaining late-term abortion providers in the United States.



home last updates contact