In jailhouse interview, suspect says he sneaked into exclusive Monte Rio club prepared to kill
January 22, 2002
By RANDI ROSSMANN and LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Richard McCaslin planned a heavily armed assault on the exclusive Bohemian Grove men's club for more than a year, believing "it would take something dramatic" to draw attention to human sacrifices he feared were being held there.
In a jailhouse interview Monday night, the well-spoken, lucid and clean-shaven man said he "wanted to make a point" and was prepared to kill people at the Monte Rio resort if necessary.
McCaslin, 37, is being held in the mental health ward of the Sonoma County Jail, facing several felony charges stemming from his commando-like entry into the grove this weekend.
McCaslin, who calls himself the "Phantom Patriot," said he doesn't belong to any militia, the National Rifle Association or any religious group, fearing he'd be immediately pigeon-holed and not taken seriously.
McCaslin said he thinks he is sane.
"They might beg to differ," he said with a laugh, pointing his thumb behind him into the mental health ward.
On Saturday night, McCaslin went to the grove armed with a semiautomatic rifle/shotgun hybrid, a .45-caliber handgun, a crossbow, a 2-foot-long sword, a knife and a hand-made bomb launcher. Wearing a skeleton mask and carrying several of the weapons, he sneaked past guard houses into the grove near the Russian River.
Each summer, the grove is home to a private men-only gathering that attracts former Republican presidents, powerful business leaders and other influential figures.
Though he knew the annual grove gathering was months before, he thought there still would be people there.
"I expected heavy resistance," he said. But he got none.
He also carried a camouflage-colored Bible, poems he'd written and pamphlets about his motives and concerns. One pamphlet included a reference to an Old Testament verse from Leviticus above a crossed-out Bohemian Club insignia. He said he left the papers at the base of a huge owl "idol."
After his arrest, he told detectives that he had come to the Bohemian Grove to kill child molesters and those performing human sacrifices.
"He planned on killing people," Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Brown said. "He planned on confronting people doing these weird things."
His fears of the alleged events were based on a videotape put out a few years ago by radio host Alex Jones, who claims on his Web site that "bizarre, Luciferian ceremonies" occur there.
Jones could not be reached for comment Monday.
McCaslin said the tape was fuzzy and didn't show any faces. It appeared to have been taken surreptitiously by Jones from as far as 200 yards from the owl idol during the grove's annual and highly secret "Cremation of Care" ceremony. But he said he could make out the form of a wrapped infant, which he believed was real and alive, being sacrificed.
He also heard more on Jones' radio show a few months ago about legendary and secret goings-on at the private 2,000-acre Bohemian Grove that solidified his desire to take action.
A Marine in the early 1980s and a former stuntman at Six Flags amusement park in Texas, McCaslin isn't married and has no children. Otherwise, he said, he couldn't have taken on the act.
"That wouldn't be responsible," he said.
He said he legally bought the weapons over time. He said he considered the legal and personal consequences if he was caught, and what his prison time could be depending on the whether he killed someone.
Last July, he made a reconnaissance mission to the grove. He wanted to make sure it really existed and how to get there.
In late December, McCaslin said he moved to Carson City, Nev., from Austin, Texas.
He got an apartment and spent a few weeks "blending in," finalizing his plans. "If I chickened out, I liked Nevada -- I could live there," he said.
On Saturday, he drove his pickup to Sonoma County and parked in the dark near the grove.
After sneaking inside the grounds, McCaslin said he heard only a couple of voices and realized there was no one there but security.
After about an hour, his flashlight died. It was pitch black under the redwoods and his efforts to sneak around were hampered.
He couldn't find the tall owl statue and eventually slept on a mattress in a cabin, waiting for dawn. With the early light, he found the owl quickly and left his marks and papers.
Not wanting the trip to have been in vain, he said he went into a dining hall, and using degreaser and some flammable materials, set an admittedly "poorly made fire."
"I'm not an arsonist," he said.
The fire was doused by a sprinkler system, but the fire alarm alerted security. McCaslin knew he'd been spotted and began walking out of the grove.
Sheriff's deputies and CHP officers, called by grove security officers, arrived and confronted McCaslin, who was wearing the skeleton mask and carrying the MK-1 assault rifle-shotgun, loaded with 70mm shotgun slugs and a full 30-shell magazine of .223-caliber bullets.
He also was wearing a bulletproof vest and a blue uniform similar to what police SWAT team members wear. On opposite shoulders, he wore patches of the Democrats' donkey and the Republican elephant, each within crossed-out red circles.
McCaslin said he waited behind a tree, wondering whether the officers were "legitimate" or part of the "Bohemian conspiracy" and planned to kill him to cover up his efforts.
When the officers did not shoot, McCaslin said he knew they were legitimate and then "took the hard way out," putting down his weapons and giving up peacefully.
Brown said the officers showed great restraint during the confrontation and were relieved when McCaslin put his gun down.
Detectives describe McCaslin as an intelligent, well-read man who is a fan of American history and government actions. He has no criminal record.
Although some of beliefs may seem bizarre, Brown said, McCaslin did not appear to be mentally unstable.
"He thinks (Timothy) McVeigh was programmed by the government to blow up Oklahoma City," he said. "And that (Osama) bin Laden has a company that George Bush is a partner in. But he's not dumb. His beliefs are just a little different," Brown said.
McCaslin will be arraigned Wednesday on six felony charges.
Police say ex-Secret Service agent working at Grove misrepresented himself at jail
February 1, 2002
By CECILIA M. VEGA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Bohemian Club is quietly conducting its own investigation into how a heavily armed man managed to sneak past security into the club's Russian River camp.
Bohemian Grove, a 2,700-acre camp near Monte Rio, is the site of an annual encampment attended by entertainers and corporate and political leaders.
Richard McCaslin, a self-styled commando who was arrested after a brief standoff with sheriff's deputies, says he went to the grove looking for pagan ceremonies and human sacrifices that he heard about on a talk radio program.
Since his arrest, McCaslin has been questioned in jail twice by a former Secret Service agent who is part of the security detail at the grove.
Bohemian Club officials say they are simply trying to ensure the safety of their members and guests, a group that often includes presidents and Cabinet secretaries during the two-week summer encampment.
The questioning prompted a complaint from McCaslin's public defender, and sheriff's officials said the grove security man, identified as Martin Allen, misrepresented himself to gain privileged access to McCaslin in the county jail.
Assistant Sheriff Mike Costa said Allen identified himself as an active Secret Service agent to obtain visits without time constraints, a right typically granted to lawyers and law enforcement.
Costa said Allen "took advantage of all the resources available to him in order to accomplish his mission, which was to see Mr. McCaslin for longer than the 30 minutes granted to him as a civilian."
A spokesman for the Bohemian Club confirmed that Allen visited McCaslin twice last week to obtain information for an internal investigation of the break-in.
As for Costa's statement that Allen misrepresented himself, spokesman Mike Oggero said: "I think he told them who he is and gave them his background."
McCaslin's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jeff Mitchell, said he was concerned that some of the information his client shared could be subpoenaed by prosecutors and used against him in court.
"It presents some difficult legal issues," he said. "He's been asked everything by this person ... Given all this conspiracy stuff that's floating around, it's very interesting."
Oggero said the club doesn't intend to share any information obtained by Allen with other agencies.
"We have an ongoing commitment to do everything we can to provide a safe environment for our members, guests and staff," he said. "This is simply ... a little research to make sure we're doing what we can to make the grove safe."
Jail officials say Allen flashed a Secret Service badge and whispered he was an agent before his visits to McCaslin.
His visiting privileges have been revoked, Costa said.
"His ID credentials should have 'retired' stamped across them," he said. "He is not a peace officer. He's more or less like a private investigator."
Allen didn't return telephone calls seeking comment.
McCaslin is being held without bail on a variety of state and federal criminal charges including arson and possession of an assault weapon.
He was dressed in a skeleton mask and a hooded costume with the words "phantom patriot" on his chest when he was arrested at the grove Jan. 20. He was carrying several weapons, including a crossbow, an assault rifle and a homemade bomb launcher.
McCaslin said he expected to find people sacrificing children in rituals performed before an owl statue in the camp. Only the security detail was present, however, and he was arrested after allegedly setting a fire in the grove's mess hall.
McCaslin said Allen came prepared with a list of questions and spent about four hours interviewing him.
In a jailhouse interview Thursday, McCaslin said Allen questioned him about how he entered the grove and what he saw once he was inside.
"He asked, 'Were you disappointed with security?'" he said. "I figured they would have chain-link fences up by now. No guard dogs. No microcameras. Yeah, it's off-season, but still...
"They don't want people going in there, but from what I saw they weren't too worried about people sneaking in."
Once inside, McCaslin said he didn't see much because his flashlight died.
A Texas native and former Marine, McCaslin said he once pursued a career in acting and auditioned for a role as an FBI agent in the 1999 movie "Miss Congeniality." He also said he portrayed "Batman" at an amusement park.
McCaslin said he is the only child of deceased parents and was unemployed and living off an inheritance when he was arrested.