WICHITA, Kan.—A federal grand jury is investigating whether last year’s murder of a Kansas abortion doctor was connected to a broader case involving radical anti-abortion activists, a federal law enforcement official familiar with the case said Friday.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation. The official said several federal civil rights prosecutors were holding grand jury proceedings in Kansas City, looking into whether a broader case surrounded the May 2009 death of Dr. George Tiller.
Tiller was among the few late-term abortion providers in the U.S. before he was fatally shot in his Wichita church by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder.
“Yes, there is a grand jury investigation. I can tell you that there are several attorneys from Washington, D.C., looking into this matter and are looking into the broader case than just the actual incident that occurred in Wichita,” the official said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas declined comment Friday.
Roeder, who admitted to the shooting, said during his trial in January that he believed the killing was justified to save the lives of unborn children. Roeder, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced to life in prison.
At least one Justice Department civil rights prosecutor attended Roeder’s trial, along with agents from the FBI. Shortly after Tiller’s death, the Justice Department increased security around women’s health facilities and opened an ongoing investigation.
In recent days, talk of a sitting grand jury in Kansas City began swirling among some anti-abortion activists who have kept in contact with Roeder, including Jennifer McCoy.
“It won’t change things for Scott, and that is what makes me think the problem is the rest of us,” said McCoy, who was sentenced in 1997 to 2 1/2 years in prison for arsons at two Virginia abortion clinics. “They have gone in trying to prove some conspiracy that doesn’t exist.”
McCoy, who said she has not been subpoenaed, now lives in Wichita and befriended Roeder after his arrest in Tiller’s death. She said she learned about the grand jury investigation from Roeder.
Tiller’s clinic in Wichita has been closed since the doctor’s death. The building is for sale.