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Suspected anthrax hoaxer nabbed

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Clayton Lee Waagner, the suspected author of hoax letters sent to abortion clinics that claimed to be contaminated with anthrax, was arrested Wednesday after eluding authorities for months, according to federal authorities.

Law enforcement sources said the arrest was made shortly after 1 p.m. in the Cincinnati suburb of Springdale, Ohio, after an employee at a Kinko's photocopy store called the U.S. Marshals Service saying she believed Waagner was in the store.

Marshals quickly called local police who responded within minutes. An officer entered the Kinko's, while Waagner hastily logged off a computer and ran outside, where more officers were waiting, said Geoff Shank, a senior inspector with the Marshals Service.

"They got him within seconds," said Shank. "It was an incredible ending."

The 45-year-old suspect, who according to federal authorities has ties to anti-abortion extremist groups, had $10,000 cash on him and a loaded handgun. Authorities also seized a stolen Mercedes Benz, which was filled with computer components, said Shank.

Read the documents Federal bank robbery charges against Waagner in West Virginia (FindLaw) (PDF)
Message Board: Anthrax and bioterrorism 

Only 18 minutes elapsed from the time authorities were notified of Waagner's whereabouts to the time of his arrest, he said.

As word spread through the Marshals Service, officers cheered wildly and slapped high-fives after finally capturing the fugitive, who was on the "wanted lists" of both the FBI and Marshals Service.

"I have never seen myself or other people to be so proud to be a marshal," said Shank. "We've done everything we can to capture this guy, and it was just a matter of time."

Marshals suspected Waagner had been going to Kinko's stores and logging on to store computers, where he apparently surfed Web sites -- including and USA Today -- reading articles about himself, said Shank.

The inspector described Waagner as a "narcissist" who reveled in the attention.

Marshals placed "most wanted" fliers in Kinko's stores and other businesses nationwide in recent weeks. The female employee who called police recognized Waagner from a flier.

"Clayton Lee Waagner is in the good hands -- in the custody -- of the United States Marshals Service. In those good hands, I have to tell you that the United States is a safer and more secure place," Attorney General John Ashcroft said at a U.S. Marshals Service ceremony in Arlington, Virginia.

Ashcroft praised the tipster for notifying authorities.

"The battle against those who inflict terror or seek to inflict terror or seek to induce terror with hoaxes or threats is a battle that must be joined by all Americans," the attorney general said.

Waagner escaped in February from the DeWitt County Jail in Illinois where he was awaiting sentencing on federal weapons and stolen car convictions.

Ashcroft announced November 29 that Waagner was suspected of sending more than 280 letters falsely claiming to contain anthrax to women's health clinics on the East Coast in the second week of October and a second series of letters to 270 clinics in the first week in November as part of a similar hoax.

The hoax letters are considered unconnected to the anthrax-laced letters sent to two Senate offices and several new media outlets in New York and Florida.

Waagner also is wanted on charges of bank robbery in Pennsylvania, firearms possession in Tennessee and carjacking in Mississippi, all arising since his escape.

Before his capture, Waagner visited another abortion opponent in Georgia, who secretly recorded their conversation. In it, Waagner took credit for sending the letters to the clinics.

"I did the anthrax scares in the abortion clinics," he's heard saying in a tape played on "America's Most Wanted."

"You did them all?" fellow abortion opponent Neal Horsley asks.

"Every single one," Waagner said.

In an interview with CNN, Horsley said Waagner showed him the FedEx packing slips for the letters he sent.

"He brought those items because he intended for people to know that he had done the anthrax letters," Horsley said.


• U.S. Marshals Service
• Federal Bureau of Investigation
• U.S. Department of Justice
• U.S. Attorney General

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