Alleged terrorist’s family says there’s more to story
BY MICHAEL LANSU Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org October 7, 2012 10:08PM
Gregory Weiler in an image from his Facebook page.
Updated: November 9, 2012 6:19AM
There are two sides to the Elk Grove Village native charged as a terrorist suspect: the fun, energetic young man who helps others and the person struggling with mental illness, said his family.
Miami, Okla., police arrested Gregory Weiler II, 23, Thursday in a motel room with 50 Molotov cocktails and a hand-drawn map of 48 Oklahoma churches he intended to firebomb, according to police and a criminal affidavit filed in Ottawa County District Court.
Weiler’s family did not know what brought him to the small city in northeast Oklahoma. Prior to his arrest, family members said he had become involved with an extremist Christian church.
“[Gregory] loved the Catholic Church,” said Chris Meyers, an uncle and legal guardian. “Somebody had to put a thought in his head.”
Some family members questioned the charges.
Joanne Meyers, Weiler’s aunt and legal guardian, added: “I don’t think any of us think he could do this on his own without the help of somebody else. How did he do the travel, pay the hotels and buy the material?”
In 2004, Weiler moved in with the Meyers after his mother committed suicide, family members said. Weiler’s father committed suicide in 2005.
The Meyers became legal guardians of the Weiler children and helped Gregory Weiler through a suicide attempt of his own, family members said. He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.
“When he was here, it was different. He was loving and caring,” said younger brother Stephen Weiler. “I remember playing football in the street. He was a good brother.”
Weiler controlled his mental illness while a student at Elk Grove High School, where he competed on the football and wrestling teams. He also was a member of the Christians In Action Youth Group, said friend Diego Caldera.
“He was a fun guy,” Chris Meyers said. “There are times when we had a lot of fun. He could make just about anybody laugh. We told him he had a real gift . . . a real gift for people, gift for gab.”
Weiler abruptly left the Meyers’ house after high school and briefly enrolled at Bradley University in Peoria, where he borrowed money and supplies from others, Joanne Meyers said. He dropped out about two weeks later and eventually moved off campus with his girlfriend, whom he dated for more than 18 months.
The girlfriend’s father paid for Weiler to learn to become a welder, but the couple broke up when she learned of his addictions, which included alcohol, heroin and stealing, Joanne Meyers said.
Weiler then moved to Missouri, where he became involved in a church of Christian extremists and became distant with family and friends, family members said.
Weiler may have had a falling out with the religious group and said last month in a long Facebook post: “I am telling you that I have not opened a Bible in a while, and I haven’t stepped foot into a church building in quite some time.”
Weiler’s sister, Annie, said from the hospital in a letter for the Chicago Sun-Times: “If I could get the people affected by this to understand one thing, it would be this isn’t the person my brother is. He makes mistakes but who doesn’t? . . . What shapes a person is what they have to offer. Greg has more to offer than honestly any person I know. He is capable of tearing the world apart, but he is also capable of uniting everyone.”
Weiler is being held without bond in the Ottawa County jail and faces two terrorism counts, Miami police Chief George Haralson said.
Authorities were tipped off to Weiler’s alleged plans by a maintenance worker at a Miami motel, Haralson said. The worker discovered a green duffel bag and a five-gallon fuel container in a Dumpster at the Legacy Inn and Sites motel Thursday morning.
The worker called police, who discovered the bag contained the bottles with cloth attached by duct tape, authorities said. The maintenance worker accidentally walked into Weiler’s room and saw him with beer bottles, a gas container and bed sheets.
Cousin Angela Meyers said despite the charges, “he still should be treated like a person and not a monster.”