Freemen Meet With Negotiators; FBI Moves Closer to Compound
Apr. 18, 1996
JORDAN, Mont. (AP) _ Five members of the anti-government Freemen met face-to-face with negotiators for about two hours in what was believed to be the first such discussions in almost two weeks.
Two men drove to within about 500 yards of the compound's main house Wednesday and reporters recognized one of them as an FBI agent. Five people walked from the house to the vehicle.
During the meeting inside the 960-acre, barricaded compound, the group sometimes sat inside the vehicle and occasionally stood near it.
It was apparently the first such meeting since four Montana legislators met with a group of Freemen on April 4 and 5. The compound has been surrounded by the FBI since March 25, when agents arrested two leaders of the group.
The FBI agents at the scene refused to comment on the meeting.
Meanwhile, the FBI moved closer to the compound, occupying the foreclosed home of a Freeman family just two miles from the complex.
FBI agents moved carloads of equipment into the former home of William and Agnes Stanton. They moved onto the property with permission of rancher Tim Phipps, who bought the house and farm property at a foreclosure auction almost two years ago.
Agnes Stanton and her son left the house last week and surrendered to the FBI on a variety of federal charges. William Stanton is serving a 10-year prison term for threatening public officials and writing a bad check for $25,000.
Also Wednesday, Michigan militia leader Norman Olson was barred by officials from entering the compound. He said he was an ordained Baptist minister and wanted to minister to the Freemen, not mediate the standoff.
On Tuesday, Olson was turned away by armed agents when he tried to enter the FBI's command center in Jordan, about 30 miles from the compound. He said he wanted to meet with the FBI field commander.
About 18 people remain inside the complex, and about 10 of them face charges ranging from writing bad checks to threatening to kidnap and murder a federal judge.