TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+

DNA, fingerprint match helped lead FBI to mail bomb suspect

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Florida man with a criminal history and a fervor for President Donald Trump sent at least 13 mail bombs to prominent Democrats, Justice Department officials said, crediting DNA, a fingerprint match and misspellings for the key break in a case that spread fear of election-season violence with little precedent in the U.S.

Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida, faces five federal charges in connection with a mail bomb plot that spurred a weeklong, coast-to-coast investigation that continued even after he was taken into custody Friday as investigators scrutinized additional suspicious packages intended for Democrats.

Sayoc will make his first court appearance next week, where additional details may be revealed about a motive. In the meantime, Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested that politics may have played a role and noted that Sayoc appeared to be a “partisan.” Those who saw him in the Florida neighborhood, unmistakable in a white van plastered with Trump’s image and political stickers, described him as unsettling and troubled.

Sayoc’s social media profiles portray a deeply disaffected conservative who trafficked in online conspiracy theories, parody accounts and name-calling. He called a Florida school shooting survivor a “fake phony,” peddled theories about George Soros, the billionaire political donor targeted this week by a package bomb, and denigrated other Democrats who were later the intended recipients of explosive packages.

The 56-year-old Florida man charged in the nationwide mail-bomb scare targeting prominent Democrats was taken into custody Friday (Oct. 26)

An amateur body builder and former stripper who once spent time on probation for a bomb threat charge, Sayoc first registered as a Republican voter just ahead of the March 2016 Republican primary and quickly identified himself as a proud Trump supporter, tweeting and posting on Facebook videos that appear to show him at Trump rallies.

He appeared to be living in his van, showering on the beach or at a local fitness center.

Sayoc’s arrest Friday was a major breakthrough in the nationwide manhunt following the discovery of the explosive devices — none of which detonated — addressed to prominent Democrats and other frequent targets of conservative ire, including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and the cable network CNN. On Friday, new packages addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper were intercepted — both similar to those containing pipe bombs discovered earlier in the week. Investigators in California scrutinized a package sent to Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, her office said, and one sent to Tom Steyer, a billionaire businessman who has campaigned for months for Trump’s impeachment.

The mail bombs, coming shortly before major midterm elections, sparked a heated national conversation about the hard-edged political climate and Trump’s role in fanning the flames. The president has branded the media the “enemy of the people” and hurled harsh, personal insults at others targeted in the plot.

Shortly after Sayoc was detained, Trump declared that “we must never allow political violence to take root in America” and that Americans “must unify.”

Speaking later to reporters Friday evening before leaving for a political rally in North Carolina, Trump said he knows Sayoc supported him but that he himself “bears no blame.” Hours earlier Trump had complained via tweet that “this ‘bomb’ stuff” was taking attention away from the upcoming election and that critics were wrongly blaming him.

FBI and police officials worked swiftly to untangle clues this week as the packages mounted, sometimes several in the same day.

The big break came when a fingerprint found on one of the packages, intended for California Rep. Maxine Waters, matched a fingerprint of Sayoc’s on file with Florida authorities. A DNA sample from a device intended for Obama similarly matched the suspect’s DNA, the FBI said.

An additional clue: Misspellings from his online posts matched mistakes found on the packages, according to an 11-page criminal complaint that included the formal charges of threatening former presidents and transporting explosives across state lines.

Some packages included photographs of the intended recipients marked with a red “x,” the FBI said. The packages contained timers and batteries, but were not rigged to explode upon opening. Officials were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

Authorities noted that they included “energetic material.” A footnote to the charging document said such explosive material “gives off heat and energy through a rapid exothermic reaction when initiated by heat, shock or friction.”

“These are not hoax devices,” FBI Director Chris Wray said.

Sayoc was arrested near an auto parts store in Plantation, Florida, north of Miami. Across the street, Thomas Fiori, a former federal law enforcement officer, said he saw about 50 armed officers swarm a man standing outside a white van. They ordered him to the ground, Fiori said, and he did not resist.

“He had that look of, ‘I’m done, I surrender,’” Fiori said.

Sayoc appears to have been living on the margins, regularly running into trouble with the law and struggling to make ends meet. He was repeatedly arrested for theft in the 1990s, faced felony charges of possession of anabolic steroids in 2004 and was convicted of grand theft in 2014. In 2002, he served a year of probation for a felony charge of threatening to throw or place a bomb.

His lawyer in that case said the charge stemmed from a heated conversation with a Florida utility representative.

Ronald Lowy, a Miami attorney, said Sayoc showed no ability at the time to back up his threat with any bomb-making expertise.

Sayoc had $4,175 in personal property and more than $21,000 in debts when filed for bankruptcy in 2012. “Debtor lives with mother, owns no furniture,” his lawyer indicated in a property list.

He had been an amateur body builder. More recently he was seen at an LA Fitness in Aventura, regularly showering at the gym but not working out, said Edgar Lopez, 48, a therapist who works out at the gym.

Marc Weiss saw Sayoc nearly every morning at 6 a.m. for the last four or five months.

“I’ve seen the guy maybe 80 times and I never said a word to him because I had a feeling he was a little off,” said Weiss, a 56-year-old building superintendent who has lived in the neighborhood for eight years. “This guy had an air about him that was unsettling.”

Sayoc’s political awakening appears to have coincided with Trump’s rise. He registered to vote in Florida in March 2016 and has voted early since, records show.

Documents released Friday by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office show Sayoc reported in May 2015 that more than $40,000 in goods were stolen from his van and an attached trailer, including 11 pieces of Donald Trump-brand clothing valued at $7,150. Specifics are not included, but Trump has a line of suits, shirts, ties and accessories.

The report shows detectives were never able to confirm whether the theft actually happened, and no arrests were made.

Most of those targeted this week were past or present U.S. officials, but packages also were sent to actor Robert De Niro and Soros. The bombs have been sent across the country — from New York, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to Florida and California, where Waters was targeted. They bore the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

VIDEO NEWS

National Politics

Apollo 11 astronauts reunite on 50th anniversary of moonshot

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins reunited Friday…

U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo To Deliver Remarks at the 120th VFW National Convention in Orlando Monday

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will deliver the keynote address at…

VFW National Convention Returns to Orlando Saturday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie…

Rep. Soto’s $14 Billion Medicaid Parity Bill for Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories Passes Committee, One Step Closer Towards Becoming Law

WASHINGTON (FNN NEWS) - On Wednesday, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved…

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

First Lady Casey DeSantis Holds Listening Session on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Sanford

SANFORD, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis held a listening session on mental…

First Lady Casey DeSantis to Make an Announcement at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Thursday

SANFORD, Fla. – Florida's First Lady Casey DeSantis will make an announcement at the Seminole…

Florida's First Lady Casey DeSantis to visit First Coast High School in Jacksonville Monday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.– First Lady Casey DeSantis will visit First Coast High School on Monday, July…

Getting to Know Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill: “It all started with a park bench.”

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - If I told you it was a park bench that…

FNN SPORTS

MORE SPORTS NEWS

Pride Mount Comeback But Fall in Stoppage to Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. - Orlando Pride (2-9-2, 8 points) erased a two-goal deficit, including a 90th-minute equalizer,…

Orlando Pride to Celebrate World Cup Champions Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris on Tuesday Night

ORLANDO, Fla. – After helping lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to its fourth FIFA…

Joel Smeenge Named No. 24 On Jagaurs All-25

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former Jaguars DE Joel Smeenge has been named No. 24 on the…

Daytona International Speedway to Launch Fireworks Extravaganza on Wednesday Night

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona International Speedway is going to finish its Independence Day holiday…

Philadelphia Union’s Explosive Plays Rout Orlando City 3-1 at Home

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Orlando City wasted no time upon their return home against…

It begins: NBA free agency finally starts Sunday

Kawhi Leonard is planning meetings in Los Angeles. Kevin Durant will do the same in…

BUSINESS NEWS

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

Apple Announces New Batch of Emojis on World Emoji Day

Cupertino, CA (FNN NEWS) — July 17th is National Emoji Day! What better way to celebrate…

Celebration is Chick-fil-A’s largest, single-day customer appreciation event

ATLANTA, Ga. – Get your cow costumes ready – Chick-fil-A is celebrating its 15th annual…

[WATCH] Nourishing Biologicals Launches Four-Piece Flagship Product Line

SAINT AUGUSTINE, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Nourishing Biologicals, a science-based skin care company created to fight and…

Getting to Know Sutherlin Nissan Co-Owner “U.S. Marine”

WINTER PARK, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - “U.S. Marine,” the man who owns Sutherlin Nissan, pretty…

Trump Delays Imposing Tariffs on Auto Imports and Parts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Caught in a sprawling trade dispute with U.S. rival China, President Donald…

US to Add 30,000 Seasonal Worker Visas as Soon as This Week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration plans to allow 30,000 more foreign workers temporarily into…

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

  • LAS VEGAS (AP) - All in for riches: World Series of Poker marks 50th run

MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Game of Thrones cast talks divisive finale, water bottles

SAN DIEGO (AP) — “Game of Thrones” may be over but the cast can’t seem…

New Orleans Brass Band The Soul Rebels Open For The Rolling Stones!

NEW ORLEANS - In true NOLA spirit, popular brass band The Soul Rebels have shown…

Disney Skyliner Takes Flight Sept. 29, 2019, at Walt Disney World

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Disney Skyliner will begin carrying guests high above Walt Disney…

The Super-Busy Person’s Guide to the Top 10 Summer Movies of 2019

ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) - Is the July Florida heat getting to your head? Need something…

South Korea’s Top 3 Entertainment Companies Face an Intense Month of Scandals

SEOUL, South Korea (FNN NEWS) - South Korea’s top three entertainment companies, YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment,…

Singer and Songwriter Darius Rucker Visits Walt Disney World Resort

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Singer and songwriter Darius Rucker poses with Woody during his visit…

LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL & TOURISM

  • LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - 26th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blooms for 90 Days at Walt Disney World Resort (Photo courtesy Walt Disney World)

MORE LIFESTYLE NEWS

Disney Skyliner Takes Flight Sept. 29, 2019, at Walt Disney World

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Disney Skyliner will begin carrying guests high above Walt Disney…

Before You Go: 5 Powerful Things You Must Know to Conquer College

College life can be rough, especially if you’re in a dorm or moved out on…

[OPINION] Tampering with Our Food is a Crime!

Thanks to social media, it seems a new fad or trend emerges every other month.…

Singer and Songwriter Darius Rucker Visits Walt Disney World Resort

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Singer and songwriter Darius Rucker poses with Woody during his visit…

[OPINION] Why are We Voting on Whether LGBTQ Parents Can Adopt? Let Them.

The debate for LGBTQ+ rights rages on, and whether or not they should be able…

Celebration is Chick-fil-A’s largest, single-day customer appreciation event

ATLANTA, Ga. – Get your cow costumes ready – Chick-fil-A is celebrating its 15th annual…