On the afternoon of the day that federal authorities say Terry Lee Loewen had scheduled himself to die, he appeared instead in U.S. District Court in Wichita to hear himself accused of federal terrorism charges.
Magistrate Karen M. Humphreys told Loewen she was scheduling him for a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing for 11 a.m. on Dec. 20. Federal prosecutors told her in the courtroom that a grand jury would meet on Wednesday to consider an indictment.
Humphreys told prosecutors from the bench to make sure Loewen gets the several medications she had heard he needed.
To Humphreys’ question “Do you understand your rights?” Loewen replied “yes, ma’am,” in a steady voice.
“How old are you?”
Loewen came in to Humphreys’ courtroom at about 3:30 p.m., hours after federal authorities said he’d planned to blow up a truck at Mid-Continent Airport, triggering the explosives himself in a suicide act of terrorism.
He walked in with short steps, his legs, hands and waist all linked with chains and handcuffs. Loewen appears only a few inches taller than five feet. He has a full head of dark wavy hair, glasses and a dark beard speckled with gray. He appeared calm and swiveled gently in his chair in the minutes he and assistant public defender John Henderson waited for the judge to enter the courtroom.
Just before Humphreys entered, men from the U.S. Marshals Service unhooked all of the restraints. They dropped the chains with a heavy, clunking sound a few feet from the table where Loewen then sat down beside his public defender.
In the courtroom seats behind Loewen sat his wife, identified in mortgage records with the Sedgwick County Register of Deeds’ office as Deborah Loewen.
Humphreys read him his rights and then the charges: One count of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property and one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. “Do you understand counts one, two and three filed against you?” Humphreys asked. “Yes, ma’am, I do,” he replied.
Loewen, who worked as an avionics technician at the Hawker Beechcraft Services facility at the airport, is alleged to have spent months developing a plan to use his access card to airport grounds to drive a van loaded with explosives to the terminal.
In the hearing, Humphreys asked about his finances and noted that in the hours he’d spent under arrest since this morning he’d already filled out a financial affidavit. She asked him if he wanted a public defender. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied. She noted that he had told officials already that he didn’t know a lot about his own finances because his wife handles the family finances.
Loewen said that is true.
Humphreys nodded. “Well, I don’t think that’s all that unusual,” she said.
Henderson said federal authorities had assured him they’d acquired several medications that he said Loewen needs. Loewen has several stents in blood vessels in his chest and needs at least one of the medications, a blood thinner, every day, Henderson said. “If he goes without that medication for 24 hours, there could be severe consequences to him.”
Humphreys then addressed Loewen’s wife. “I know all of this must be upsetting,” the judge said. She asked whether she’d helped federal marshals make sure they understood all his medication needs. Deborah Loewen rose from her seat. “Yes,” she said. “I wrote it out on my car for them this morning.”
After that, Terry Lee Loewen was led from the courtroom.
News reporters tried to talk to Deborah Loewen, but she walked away.
“No comment,” she said. “He has an attorney.”
Contributing: Dan Voorhis of The Eagle