Mt. Vernon Register-News

October 7, 2013

FBI: Man's pipe bombs intended for sex offenders


Associated Press

EAST ST. LOUIS —  —

An Air Force staffer stationed in Illinois was ordered jailed without bond Monday after federal prosecutors accused him of possessing pipe bombs that he told investigators he planned to unleash on local sex offenders while admittedly feeling suicidal.

Justin Vangilder, who was assigned to Scott Air Force Base in southwestern Illinois, was charged Friday with three felony counts of possessing an unregistered destructive device. An FBI agent's affidavit included in the criminal complaint said Vangilder had three pipe bombs in his home and had told an informant he fantasized about killing child molesters and sought to "inflict as many casualties as possible."

Vangilder, 24, made a brief court appearance Monday, where a federal magistrate assigned him a public defender and ordered him jailed without bond.

There was no indication in FBI Special Agent's Sanela Konjevic's affadivit that Vangilder targeted anyone on the base, where spokeswoman Karen Petitt confirmed Vangilder has been stationed but lived off base. It was not immediately clear what role Vangilder served at the base, which is just east of St. Louis.

A message left Monday with Vangilder's federal public defender, Julie Morian, was not immediately returned.

According to Konjevic's affidavit, the unnamed informant notified the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations after visiting Vangilder's Shiloh home last Wednesday night and becoming alarmed.

The informant, Konjevic wrote, said Vangilder displayed various pipe bombs in a briefcase, along with zippered plastic bags of shotgun shells, razors, screws and shrapnel.

Vangilder said "the purpose of these materials was to inflict as many casualties as possible," Konjevic wrote, adding that the informant also reported Vangilder called the explosives "a last resort."

"Vangilder then proceeded to explain to the (informant) his fantasies of killing child molesters and that he had detailed, personal information of sex offenders in the local area," Konjevic said in the affidavit.

Vangilder told the informant he was suicidal and disappointed that his parents didn't support him during his recent divorce, Konjevic added.

While detained by Shiloh police the next day, Vangilder was questioned by the FBI and claimed ownership of the devices, saying he built two of them when he was 18 and the third during the past year, Konjevic wrote.

Vangilder signed off on a police search of his home but wouldn't permit a review of his personal computer, according to Konjevic's affidavit. Searchers found one metal pipe bomb and two plastic ones inside a briefcase, each with protruding fuses and packing various sizes of birdshot and nails along with "energetic material which contained what appeared to be smokeless powder," Konjevic wrote.