Mail bombings target two prominent televangelists.
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:
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:
As Scott opened the box, he was suddenly thrown to the floor by an explosion:
Scott Scheepers was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to remove shrapnel imbedded in his leg:
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:
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:
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.