The unsealing of a federal indictment and the arrest of two regional militia members accused of making an explosive device and conspiring to possess such a device brought to light the hazards of homemade explosives and the needed attention by law enforcement because of their extreme danger to others, officials said.
A federal grand jury indicted Ryan D. King, 37, of Franklin, and Randy D. Goodman, 53, of Ripley, last week on charges of possessing unregistered explosives and conspiring to possess a destructive device, a violation of the National Firearms Act.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz concluded that both should be detained pending trial. They are being held without bond in the Butler County Jail.
The detention order said King described his intent to make the devices lethal and to make the destructive devices “anti-personnel,” used to maim or kill persons not protected by metal or armor.
The makeup of militia groups and any potential dangers they pose was brought to the fore last week. Butler County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer said the department trains regularly on dealing with anti-government citizens.
“We have training about some of the things they do and some of the dangers they pose,” he said.
He said such citizens will make demands about every month or so by being organized with “lots” of paperwork. Often deputies come in contact with a “sovereign citizen” during a home foreclosure or civil matter.
“These people frequently disagree with the fundamental nature of what you are doing,” Dwyer said. “This is a different mindset.”
Dwyer said there are websites and organizations that cater to people who are looking for instructions on how to avoid paying taxes and how to file paperwork to establish their own sovereign nations.
“I had one guy come in with an inch of paperwork, a seal of his own country, wax seals — everything,” he said. “Well-written and all, but not legal.”
Specialist Mike Grimes of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad said his department has not come in contact with the “crater maker” bombs King and Goodman are accused of constructing, but others have.
“We get intelligence briefings about anyone doing test runs in rural areas,” Grimes said.
He declined to share where those location are.
But, Grimes said, even a simple pipe bomb can be hazardous to anyone around them, and to the makers themselves.
“Those we have seen,” he said.
Because of those dangers, investigators tracked King and Goodman and built a case over the course of several months, according to the details in court documents reviewed by this news outlet.
A search of King’s Franklin residence, where he lived with his wife and two small children, revealed numerous firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, 2,000 rounds of ammunition and a “project box” containing an improvised switching device, according to the detention order.
Goodman also was identified in the detention order as the de facto leader of a local militia group who is trained in survival tactics.
His detention order said Goodman “engaged in ongoing discussions and actions to design and construct destructive devices that were intended to inflict serious injury or death. According to the order, Goodman repeatedly referenced the Boston Marathon bombing as an example of a remote detonation system that was successful and his desire to use the “same type of concept.’”
The order also said that Goodman had detonated explosive devices of a type referred to as a “crater maker” at his 120-acre farm in Ripley. The order said a search of Goodman’s residence “revealed a pipe that had been thrown as part of the testing of the destructive devices, numerous firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, numerous rounds of ammunition, and high-capacity magazines that were loaded.”
The indictment identified both men as members of the United Sheepdogs of Ohio, a militia group with at least 12 members living throughout the Southern District of Ohio.
According to the indictment, the Sheepdogs’ training sessions included practicing long- and short-range shooting and discussed firearms and survival skills.
King and Goodman allegedly established and belonged to a subset of the Sheepdogs called the “Special Projects Team.” They allegedly wanted to build, stockpile and use destructive devices and improvised explosive devices, according to the indictment.
On Monday, Franklin police blocked off a portion of South Main Street while FBI agents searched King’s residence. The indictment alleges that during the Sheepdogs’ Christmas party on Dec. 8 at King’s residence, King showed Goodman a collection of parts necessary to make a pipe bomb such as the steel pipe with end caps, electronic matches and wireless relays.
He displayed the CO2 cartridge that had a fuse and green electrical tape and was filled with an unknown substance. King allegedly told Goodman these devices could easily be placed under a front car seat of a vehicle or wired into a vehicle engine. Goodman allegedly responded, “I like that, that’s the method I like.”
In October, both men traveled to West Point, Ky., where King allegedly purchased a wire assembly and inert grenades and where King allegedly suggested methods “if they wanted to get more lethal.” Goodman allegedly commented that would make them an elite group.
On Jan. 5, just prior to a Sheepdogs’ training session at Goodman’s residence in Ripley, both he and King allegedly discussed construction and ignition logistics in detail as they were testing their “crater makers.” Goodman allegedly referenced the Boston Marathon bombing as an example of a remote detonation system that worked. King allegedly told Goodman that he would teach Goodman how to make the “crater makers.”
On Jan. 18, while they allegedly worked on improvised initiation systems, Goodman asked King how the Boston Marathon bombers used the pressure cookers for their bombs, according to the indictment. King allegedly said he wanted to focus on making these devices “anti-personnel,” which he thought would be more useful for them. They also allegedly discussed the differences in the lethality of pipe bombs made of PVC pipe or metal pipes.