FAIRBANKS - State court documents made available Friday detail the murders and kidnappings allegedly planned by Schaeffer Cox and militia followers as well as the secret FBI recordings that helped expose the plan.
The plan, which members of Cox’s Peacemakers Militia reportedly code-named “241” (two for one), was created as a potential retaliatory response to any attempt by law enforcement to arrest Cox, who had an outstanding bench warrant for not attending a trial over a misdemeanor weapons charge.
Under the plan, Cox and other militia members would kidnap two law enforcement officers or court officials for every militia member arrested. They would kill two officials in retaliation for every militia member killed in any conflict with authorities.
The document accuses the group of assembling an arsenal that included pineapple grenades allegedly stolen from Fort Wainwright, multiple tripod-mounted machine guns and “dozens of other high-powered assault rifles and pistols.” The court documents don’t say whether search warrants for the weapons were obtained, or if the weapons have been seized.
Most of the information in the charging documents come from private militia “command staff” meetings “lawfully recorded by the FBI through technological means available to them.”
Four of the five defendants accused of conspiring to murder and kidnap are described discussing the plan in a 17-page criminal complaint. Besides Cox, the co-defendants are Coleman Barney, 36, of the North Pole area and Salcha residents Lonnie Vernon, 55, and his wife, Karen Vernon, 66.
Michael Anderson, 35, of 14 Mile Elliott Highway, the fifth individual arrested in the law enforcement sweep Thursday, is also facing the murder and kidnapping conspiracy charges. He is portrayed in the court documents as the surveillance man, who was sent to gather information about potential targets. The criminal complaint against him is a separate five-page document.
Both documents are available on the News-Miner website.
Lonnie Vernon also faces charges in federal court for allegedly threatening to kill federal District Judge Ralph Beistline and his family. Beistline is presiding over a civil tax-evasion lawsuit against Vernon and his wife.
Documentation explaining the federal charges against Vernon are still sealed by the court, U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki said after Vernon’s federal arraignment Friday morning in Fairbanks.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at email@example.com.