Mail bombings target two prominent televangelists.
Police sketches of suspect
Height: 5’10” to 6’
Weight: 160 to 175 lbs.
Defining Characteristics: Neatly dressed, average build
The package exploded without warning
Televangelist Pat Robertson’s daily broadcasts over CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network, are seen in nearly a million households nationwide. But his outspoken stance on controversial issues has made him the target of hate mail and death threats. Robertson’s broadcasts originate from his headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Each day, thousands of letters and packages arrive at the CBN mailroom, most of them donations from viewers. But on April 27, 1990, Scott Scheepers, a CBN security guard, was called to the mailroom to check a package addressed to Pat Robertson:
“When I looked at the package on the monitor of the x-ray machine, I didn’t see anything that led me to believe there was a problem or it was really suspicious.”
The explosion left shrapnel in his leg
Scheepers remained on guard and decided to check the contents of the package. He was baffled by several strips of newspaper sticking out of the box:
“I was still somewhat skeptical about it. So I stepped away from the box as far as I could get and took my left hand and extended it out, grabbed the lid of the box.”
As Scott opened the box, he was suddenly thrown to the floor by an explosion:
“I had severe pain in the upper part of my left leg and my abdomen, over to my right leg. I made the determination that this is it. You know it’s either lay here and possibly die or get up and get help. So that’s when I made the determination to help myself and pick myself off the floor and try to get to the front of the building.”
Scott Scheepers was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to remove shrapnel imbedded in his leg:
“I’m very fortunate. The trauma room doctor said if I’d have been holding the package… I might not even have made it out of the room itself. So I consider myself very, very fortunate that it wasn’t any worse than it was.”
Investigators found evidence of a pipe bomb
Authorities determined that the package contained a homemade pipe bomb. They quickly linked the bomb to an earlier attack aimed at another televangelist–Pastor John Osteen. In 1960, Pastor Osteen founded the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. The church was one of the largest in America and seated more than 8,000 worshipers. Like Robertson, Pastor Osteen used television to spread the gospel. And he was also the target of a similar mail bomb. On January 30, 1990, three months before the CBN bombing, John Osteen’s daughter, Lisa Cines, arrived in her office to open the day’s mail:
“I felt like it was safe to open the package because I open a lot of packages because we’ve never had any problems and this looked like an ordinary package. It had a label addressed to my dad, typewritten to my dad and then it had a return address. And… you’re not really suspicious of things like that. It was just a cardboard box. It had one piece of tape on it. I opened the box when I was sitting down. And really the next thing I remember is I was standing about five feet away from my chair and I was very shaken as if I’d had an electrical shock. I’ll never forget that feeling.”
The bomber made two explosive packages
Lisa had been the victim of a pipe bomb wrapped in newspaper. She suffered third degree burns and cuts on her right leg and abdomen. But she recovered quickly, and just four weeks later returned to the pulpit. According to Kenneth Weaver, Chief Postal Inspector of the Eastern Region, the box used in both bombings was the type used by candle distributors:
“And there was some printed material on the outside of the box, which had been scratched out with the word ‘Burgundy’ with the box. We found that both of these packages were mailed from small towns near Fayetteville, North Carolina. The National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes researched al the evidence in both the bombing cases. They said number one that this individual responsible for the bombings had some type of stress or turmoil in his life at the time of the bombings. Secondly, they felt that anyone around or in the presence of the bomber would’ve known a difference in this person’s behavior.”
A composite sketch depicted the man who was seen mailing the bombs. He’s described as a neatly dressed, white male with brown hair. He has an average build and weighs between 160 and 175 pounds. Both bombs were mailed from within twenty-five miles of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The US Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward of up to $50,000 in this case.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season four with Robert Stack and in season eight with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.
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