In a series of letters, the man accused of killing George Tiller attempts to convince his young son that a heathen government must be resisted.
While some of the letters Scott Roeder wrote from 1996 to 2002 begin unremarkably, with praise for his son's good grades and musical performances, they go on to reveal his evolving beliefs.
They paint a portrait of a man whose religious, political and anti-abortion views were becoming more extreme -- insisting, for example, that Jesus be called "Yahshua" and Christmas shouldn't be celebrated. The income tax is ungodly, Roeder writes, and in a letter on his son's 13th birthday, Roeder defends his failure to pay child support.
Roeder is scheduled today for a preliminary hearing in Sedgwick County District Court on charges that he murdered Tiller, who was shot on May 31 at his church.
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The letters were provided to The Star by Roeder's ex-wife, Lindsey. The couple divorced in 1996. Their son, Nicholas, is now 22 and approved of releasing the letters.
"These letters show a person totally different than the person I married," Lindsey Roeder told The Star. "When they would arrive in the mail, I would read bits and pieces to Nicholas. I would say, 'You got a letter from Daddy. He loves you.' "
The return addresses indicate Roeder moved frequently between Topeka and the Kansas City area. Some letters were written when he was in custody in Shawnee County on explosives charges, and others were sent from the El Dorado Correctional Facility, where he served time for violating his probation.
Roeder was arrested in Topeka in April 1996 after Shawnee County sheriff's deputies stopped him for not having a proper license plate. A search of the car found explosives and ammunition. Roeder was found guilty and sentenced in June 1996 to 24 months of probation, but the conviction was later overturned after a court ruled authorities had conducted an illegal search of his car.
Roeder wrote to his son on May 3, 1996, three weeks after his arrest.
"Well, I guess you heard I was stopped for having a different kind of license plate that the government doesn't recognize," he wrote to Nicholas, who was 9 years old at the time. "It was perfectly legal, but they don't understand it. I'm in jail in Topeka right now, but that doesn't mean I've done anything wrong."
Roeder told his son that he believed it was "in God's purpose for me to be here right now."
"Romans 8:28 says 'All things happen for the good to those that love the Lord, who are called according to His purpose,' " he wrote. "Sometimes we can't see what God's purpose is in our circumstances, or situations, but we just have to trust the Lord it is for the best."
On June 20, 1996, Roeder wrote Nicholas again from jail.
"I know this time has been confusing for you and you don't understand why I had explosives in my car," he said. "The one thing I want you to know is that I never meant to hurt anyone.... I absolutely, positively want you to know I could never hurt anyone."
'No matter... the cost'
Roeder wrote his longest letter, 13 pages, to his son on Nov. 17, 1997, from the El Dorado Correctional Facility, describing "why I allowed the system to send me to prison."
"About five years ago I saw an advertisement in the Kansas City newspaper inviting people to a meeting to learn how to not pay federal and state income taxes, legally," he wrote. "Ever since that time, after going to that meeting, I've been learning about taxation, and the laws concerning it."
Roeder said that in 1991, "Yahshua (Jesus) was working, in my life, to bring me to a point of knowing that I was a sinner and needed a Savior." In August of that year, he said, he prayed for Yahshua to forgive his sins and come into his life. Since that time, he said, "His Holy Spirit has been guiding and leading me into certain things that I had not realized before."
One of those things, he wrote, concerned the "deception" about income taxes. He told his son that the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which allowed Congress to tax the incomes of Americans, was not properly ratified. He added that "income tax itself is part of an overall system of government called communism."
"Slowly and surely, through lies and deception, our country has been turned from a government which upheld godly principles of truth and justice, to an ungodly system of socialism and communism, which denies the existence of Yahweh and His Son Yahshua, allows the murder of unborn babies in their mothers wombs, and is completely opposite of the type of government the Bible teaches."
The government today, he said, "protects the evildoers (those who murder unborn babies, among other wicked acts) and punishes those who protest abortion by picketing in front of abortion clinics. The good are punished for trying to stop this murder from taking place, and the abortion doctors are protected by law to continue their evil."
He said the government was being run according to unbiblical standards:
"And whenever a Christian, is shown by the Holy Spirit, what is true and rightous,(sic) that Christian must decide to stand for what is right, no matter what the cost!"
Letter from Wichita
On Jan. 25, 1999, Roeder wrote his ex-wife from Topeka to let her know he had a job offer in Kansas City and would be moving there on Feb. 1.
"I'm remaining anonymous as to where I'm working, and what type of work it is because of my politically incorrect views," he said. "If the state wants to find me because of my views on taxation, I don't want to give them any help."
On July 7, 1999, Roeder wrote Nicholas from an address in Merriam to ask whether he was still going to church.
"I hope you have accepted our Savior as your personal Lord and Savior," he said.
Then he talked about child support payments.
"I hope you're not mad at me for not making child support payments," he wrote. "I'm not making payments not because I don't love you, but because I have done a lot of study and realize that I shouldn't be making payments until Mom is willing to accept me back after our divorce."
Last month, Lindsey Roeder received another letter from her ex-husband. Written June 12 at the Sedgwick County Jail, the letter complained about the way she was raising Nicholas.
"I'm afraid he's becoming or already become a spoiled brat, such as yourself," Roeder wrote. "I thought that at least when we were still married we were (at least I) was teaching him the basic things in life like saying thank you."