Every few years, desperate for attention, Darryl Cherney, or one of his surrogates pops up with a new suspect in the 1990 car bombing of him and the late Judi Bari. Both managed to parlay the episode into big federal paydays for themselves and their descendants by co-editing, with the FBI, a libel suit omitting all mention of who may have attacked them.
Bob Martel offers the following theory and possible perpetrator of the Bari Bombing. A brief rebuttal follows Mr. Martel's story.
Did An Anti-Abortion Fanatic Bomb Judi Bari?
by Bob Martel
Since the 1990 car bombing that injured Mendocino County, California, resident and activist Judi Bari, dozens of articles, a number of websites, some books and a movie have been published speculating about who the bomber may have been. Over the 25 years plus since the explosion, there have been accusations against both individuals and conspirators. None of the accusations have survived close scrutiny. Until March 2015 there were still no credible suspects available to blame until recently when photographic evidence was discovered possibly linking convicted attempted murderer Rachelle Renae Shannon [aka Shelley Shannon] to the crime. Shannon is in a federal prison until 2018 for a 1993 shooting that wounded an abortion doctor in Kansas.
One of the problems of the investigations has been a lack of evidence. There are the bomb fragments and a letter sent to a regional newspaper just days after the bombing claiming responsibility. The letter has a set of female DNA. The female DNA appears to be the most interesting since no female other than Judi Bari has been a suspect. Bari was accused by the FBI but after an exhaustive attempt to develop evidence to support their claim the FBI gave up their effort to indict her. Notably the FBI and local police officials were successfully sued for their false accusations by Bari and her fellow victim Darryl Cherney.
In May of last year Cherney announced that a Mendocino County investigation was re-opening to identify the female DNA by comparing the DNA to Shannon’s. The reason Shannon is possibly linked to the 1990 bombing is based on the content of the letter and a 1988 photo showing her in Ukiah, the county seat of Mendocino County on a significant date. If the DNA on the letter matches Shannon’s DNA then we know something more, but without a context for her involvement it means little.
By chance a photo surfaced of a small group at an anti-abortion demonstration and counter demonstration. The photo shows Shannon and three others protesting in Ukiah at a woman’s clinic in November 1988. The four people in the photo are believed to have been radicalized following their arrests in Atlanta in the early fall. They were jailed together with dozens of antiabortion activists isolated from the other inmates but housed together. They thought of themselves as a school for radicals espousing the use of violence. Shortly after their release they traveled to Ukiah to join an ongoing protest. One of the four in the photo is Shannon; another identified by matching photos is her mentor Andrew Burnett. The two other women are believed to be Cathy Ramey and Dawn Stover. All four from Oregon are self-identified as members of the domestic terror organization Army of God.
The letter claiming responsibility for the bombing is of interest for many reasons. It contains two bomb descriptions. The FBI is quoted as saying that the detailed descriptions match the car bomb and another earlier bomb found at a local lumber mill. The FBI’s opinion is based on examining the surviving bomb components. The letter is signed “The Lord’s Avenger” [LA] who in the letter takes responsibility for building the two bombs. The FBI confirms that the writer either built the bombs or knew how they were built.
The letter is also a religious thesis and a history of the LA’s relationship to Bari. ‘He’ did not mention Cherney by name, but was apparently considered an accidental victim. The religious thesis was not recognizable in 1990. Today it is seen as a Dominionist argument built on the so-called “Wise Use” notions of resource exploitation and fundamentalist ideas about abortion and the role of women in society. The letter also contains a history of the two bombs detailing where and how each was placed and the results.
The letter provides a motive. The LA saw Bari singing at a counter protest in Ukiah on the day the photo of the four Army of God members was taken. The LA was angered by Bari’s performance, so much so that ‘he’ took vengeance on her for ‘his’ god. The argument the LA makes traces ‘his’ radicalization demonstrating that over the course of the year and a half between the 1988 Ukiah protest and the 1990 bombing the LA evolved ‘his’ thinking from hoping god would kill her, to placing a bomb to indirectly harm her to deciding and carrying out a direct attempt to kill Bari. This phenomenon is called a philosophical shift. Shannon and the others in the photo shifted from protester to murderer, giving credence to notion that the four or some of them were involved in the bombing. This philosophical shift was the nature of their radicalization of parts of Operation Rescue beginning in 1988 and ending in the first murders of abortion providers in 1993. This letter describes the shift but examples of the shift beyond its mention by the LA were not known until mid-1993.
Following Shannon’s attempted murder of Doctor George Tiller, the doctor returned to work and in an August 1993, New York Times article reporting on the event we find that this philosophical shift had indeed occurred:
“I'm supportive of what [Shannon] did," said Andrew Burnett, the leader of Advocates for Life Ministries. "It was a courageous act."
Another leader of the group, Dawn Stover, said the anti-abortion movement had reached a turning point in its philosophy.
"We have been saying abortion is murder, but we have been hypocritical in not treating it that way," she said.
This exemplifies the philosophical shift aka radicalization identifying the lead proponents of political and/or religious murder, aka terrorism. It also gives credence to the group being the LA. They share the same philosophy, supporting one another through their transition from citizens to murderers. At least they are among the ones who could have been the LA. Until recently they have been ignored.
I have been investigating the bombing since 1990 and identified Burnett in 1996 and Shannon in 2013 as suspects. There is a website findthelordsavenger.com that has a more fleshed-out allegation with supporting arguments for Shannon and Burnett as well as the Army of God. It will be updated with a new outline over the next months as time allows. Much research has been done but key information is still outstanding, and may still be retrievable.
The following represents background information about the four suspects to help place them in the context:
Planned Parenthood filed a suit in 1999 against a group of anti-abortion activists. The targets are named in a PP lawsuit. Note the quote below is from one of the targeted organizations.
Defendants included a relatively new First Amendment protest group, the American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) based in Norfolk, Virginia and well-established Advocates for Life Ministries (AFLM), publishers of Life Advocate magazine based in Portland, Oregon.
Individual defendants included some of the most well-known anti-abortion movement figures, leaders like Dr. Monica Migliorino-Miller (Milw. WI), Michael Bray (Bowie, MD), and Donald Treshman (Baltimore, MD). Two more, Andrew Burnett (Portland, OR) and Joseph Foreman (Skyforest, CA), were co-founders with Randall Terry of Operation Rescue, a national group involved in doing sit-ins at abortion facilities in the late 1980s and early 90s.
The group was rounded out by other prominent leaders, two Oregon women, Dawn Stover and Cathy Ramey, Roy McMillan of Jackson, Mississippi, Timothy Dreste of St. Louis, Missouri, Michael Dodds from Wichita, Kansas, Stephen Mears of New Hampshire, and Bruce Murch of Windsor, Massachusetts.
AOG member Rachelle Ranae “Shelley” Shannon was a Christian Pro-life activist from Grants Pass, Oregon. She attempted to shoot and kill Dr. George Tiller outside his abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas on August 19, 1993, shooting him in both arms. She is serving time in Federal Correctional Institute Dublin. Her projected release date is November 7, 2018.
At the time she attacked Tiller, Shannon had been a pro-life activist for five years (AOG) and had written letters of support to Michael Griffin (AOG), who murdered David Gunn in Florida. She called Griffin “the awesomest, greatest hero of our time.” She traveled to the Wichita clinic, a site of frequent demonstrations by abortion-rights and pro-life activists, and shot Dr. Tiller with a semiautomatic pistol in 1993.
Michael Bray, a former midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy and a Maryland native who now lives in Wilmington, Ohio. In 1985, Bray was convicted of two counts of conspiracy and one count of possessing unregistered explosive devices in connection with 10 bombings of women's health clinics and offices of liberal advocacy groups in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. The author of a Bible-based book titled "A Time to Kill: A Study Concerning the Use of Force and Abortion," Bray has said he believes that homosexuality and adultery should be punishable by death.
Bray, who has been called the chaplain of the Army of God, is the host of the annual White Rose Banquet that honors anti-abortion extremists. Named for a German secret society that opposed Hitler, the banquets are held on the eve of the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
After the murders of Drs. Gunn and Britton, members of the Army of God circulated petitions calling the actions "justifiable." Among those who signed the petition were Hill, Spitz and Leach. Other signatories include
The following is from a biography of Shannon written by another murderer, Scott Roeder, who killed Dr Tiller years after Shannon wounded him:
The “non-violent” direct action movement which Shelley had entered was to reach its apex in 1988 with the Atlanta “siege.” She became a subscriber to Capitol Area Christian News and paid attention to its reports. She was, eventually, to be responsible — as was soon revealed — for some of the deeds reported in the clippings of news accounts she sent by mail to CACN. But for four years she pressed onward with “non-violent” rescue efforts which became increasingly ineffectual and costly in terms of both actual lives saved and the expenditure of personal time and money. How could she most effectively and successfully use her life for the cause of the innocents? Shelley Shannon’s “rap sheet” reveals a lengthy “criminal history” of “trespassing” at abortion facilities. In Portland she was sentenced to 24 hours community service on June 29, 1988. On October 23, 1988, she was sentenced to 30 days in jail in Atlanta along with hundreds of others. On April 7, 1989, in Seattle she was sentenced to $50 in court costs and commanded to perform community service along with 58 others. Trespassing violations from March and May were reduced to Attempted Criminal Trespass with fines of $100 each. Two months later in Portland on July 15, she was fined $100 (which was converted to two days in jail). On March 29, 1990, she and 28 others were sentenced to 30 hours of community service in Portland. On June 14, 1990, she and 17 others were sentenced to fifteen days in jail in Redding, California. On September 25, 1990, she was sentenced to 30 days in jail along with nine others in Portland. She “trespassed” in San Francisco on March 29, 1991 and never went back to court. An outstanding warrant dated September 16, 1991 has bail for her set at $10,000 17 (This biographer has not pursued the question as to whether the San Francisco County Municipal Court has filed a writ of habeas corpus to have her sent there for trial when she is released on November 7, 2018, Anno Domini.) And in Fargo, North Dakota on November 18, 1991, she was sent to jail for nineteen days along with 12 others.
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ED NOTE: Every few years, desperate for attention, Cherney pops up with a new bombing suspect, as ever frantic to avoid naming the only person who combined motive and viable opportunity since he lived literally one plywood wall from his intended victim in Redwood Valley. That person is, of course, Bari's ex-husband, Mike Sweeney, whose three alibis for the window of opportunity to place the bomb only add to the mountain of suspicion pointing straight at him. He clearly wrote the Lord's Avenger Letter as confirmed by some ace research by Joe Paff of Petrolia. That hurry-up Concordance job was necessary because Sweeney's bomb didn't kill Bari. If the bomb had worked as designed she and Cherney would have been assumed to have been knowingly carrying the device. End of story. I've always enjoyed the image of Sweeney frantically at work to divert attention from himself. "Jesus! Can't I do anything right? This is the third bomb I've screwed up lately. Now that she's alive I've got to expand the suspect pool to include every man on the Northcoast! Religious nuts? Check. Male chauvinists? Check. Loggers? Check. Free range male psychopaths? Check." Hence the Lord's Avenger Letter. Cherney (and you, Bob) could have looked at this Shannon nutpie at the time of the bombing, but Cherney (and Bari, reinforced by the Bari Cult at KPFA and KZYX and the droolingly credulous everywhere) were busily trying to pin Irv Sutley as the bomber.
Bottom line remains: The known dna can be matched any time to the handful of likely suspects if a DA or a federal agency like the FBI or ATF subpoenas the likelies, beginning, natch, with Sweeney. But the FBI has declared the case closed because — get this — "No one would talk to us." (!) There's no interest in Mendocino or Alameda counties, and the whole implausible show remains a matter of why the FBI failed to pursue The Biggest Elephant Ever In The Smallest Room Ever. The answer to that one, I should think, is obvious, especially given Sweeney's history all the way back to his membership in Venceremos, a cop-killing cult based at Stanford that placed bombs all over the Bay Area. How many ex-husbands have a forty year history of pipe bombs, including the one he and Bari exploded as a joint honeymoon project soon after they were married? That one blew up a hangar at the old Navy Air Station west of Santa Rosa, nearly killing a young man asleep inside it. The plan was to blow up both hangars but Sweeney's second bomb, as usual with his bombs, didn't work. Within a couple of weeks of her client's near-immolation in Oakland, Bari's attorney, the late Susan B. Jordan, applied on Bari's behalf to the FBI for limited immunity from prosecution. Gosh, do you think Bari knew something about what happened to her? Ms. Shannon, by the way, as a federal inmate, would have her dna on file. Why doesn't Cherney match it against the known dna taken from the Lord's Avenger Letter? Because he knows Shannon, homicidal lunatic that she is, is merely one more red herring. The Northcoast — especially Mendocino County, is the perfect place for sixties "radicals" like Sweeney to re-invent themselves, because history here starts all over again every day, and you are whatever you say you are. And Sweeney says, "Shucks, folks, I'm just a Stanford guy who wants a big redwood house in the hills like all us Stanford guys deserve, so Mendocino County pays me a hundred thou-plus a year to take out the trash and no one's the wiser. Or likely to be.