Order Members Planned New Base In Oregon Before Shootout, Witnesses Testify
SEATTLE (AP) _ A shootout with FBI agents ended plans by members of The Order to establish a new base in northern Oregon, according to testimony in the federal racketeering trial against the Nazi-like group.
Members of the group had rented a string of houses from Portland to Mount Hood to the east in mid-November 1984 after becoming suspicious that FBI agents were onto them in Idaho and northeast Washington, witnesses testified.
But those preparations were aborted by a Nov. 24 shootout at Portland’s Capri Motel, when FBI agents wounded Order founder Robert Mathews and captured group member Gary Yarbrough.
The U.S. District Court jury hearing the racketeering trial of Yarbrough and nine other alleged Order members was expected to hear more evidence today about the aftermath of that shooting, when Order members fled to Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle.
It was there, just two weeks later, that FBI agents arrested several Order members and engaged Mathews in another shootout, ending in his death when his hideout caught fire.
The 10 defendants are accused of staging a string of murders, robberies and other crimes as they waged a war against the government in 1983 and 1984. Prosecutors claim the group hoped to establish a white homeland without Jews and minorities.
Witnesses told Thursday how Mathews got rides from a couple of helpful Oregon men as he fled from the Portland shootout.
Thomas W. Moilan of Portland said he was installing a security alarm system about 11/2 blocks from the Capri Motel when he heard several gunshots on the morning of Nov. 24.
A moment later, a man asked for a ride to a hospital. His right hand was bleeding, Moilan said.
Moilan said he gave the man a ride, but could not find a hospital, and instead dropped off the man at a gas station.
Kenneth Scholes testified that he stopped at that gas station the same morning and was approached by a man who asked if he was headed toward Mount Hood. Scholes, who was carrying skis on his car, agreed to give the man a lift, dropping him off at the Oregon Ark motel in Brightwood.
The man kept his right hand in his pocket, Scholes said, and told him that he had hurt it working on a car.
It was only later, when they saw Mathews’ picture in the newspaper, that they realized who their passenger had been, the men testified.
Federal agents were led to the Capri Motel by Thomas Martinez, a Philadelphia man who passed stolen and counterfeit money for The Order, and who became an informant for the government in October 1984.
The motel in Brightwood was near one of five houses that Order members rented in mid-November in Oregon, according to testimony.
David Lamont said he rented his cabin at Welches to a ″Gerry Nordham,″ identified by the government as Yarbrough. ″Nordham″ was to move in on Nov. 25, Lamont said.
But instead, FBI agents showed up at the cabin the night of Nov. 24, and Nordham ″never showed up,″ Lamont said.
Other houses were rented in Brightwood and Rhododendron to Order members, according to testimony, and Mathews rented a house in the town of Government Camp.