On December 6, 2011, the bodies of Michael Roark, 19, an army soldier stationed at Georgia’s Fort Stewart, and his girlfriend, Tiffany York, 17, were discovered by two fishermen near the military base. Roark was shot twice execution style, while York was shot once in the back of the head.
These were two young lovers who had planned a life on the west coast together. He pushed to get discharged so he could move to be closer to her family and become a motorcycle mechanic.
Four days after Roark was discharged, his and Tiffany’s bodies were found.
What came later was far larger and more complicated than anyone had anticipated. This wasn’t just a double homicide, it was an attempted cover-up of a maniacal plot to poison an apple orchard, assassinate then-President Obama, and overthrow the U.S. government.
And this was going to be carried out by four soldiers.
The perpetrators of the double homicide were Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, Sgt. Anthony Peden, Pvt. Christopher Salmon, and Pfc. Michael Burnett. These four were Roark’s fellow soldiers stationed at Fort Stewart. They were also part of a domestic terror organization named FEAR, or Forever Enduring, Always Ready, an anti-government militia.
Just six days after the bodies of Roark and York were found, Salmon and Peden were charged with malice murder, while Aguigui and Burnett were charged with being a party to murder. But the story doesn’t end there.
This case was one that seemed ideal for a screenplay or thriller novel, complete with drugs, guns, and an outlandish plot to take over the US government were based – actually – on a video game. Call of Duty, to be specific. In July of 2013, Aguigui pleaded guilty to all charges including malice murder and criminal gang activity. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Aguigui was known as a “charismatic figure” at Fort Stewart, though he certainly wasn’t shy about his anti-government rants. Not long before his wife’s suspicious death, Aguigui began seeking out and recruiting troubled, disillusioned soldiers for his new militia.
His method for weeding out the unfaithful? Their reaction to a then-upcoming video game about U.S. soldiers attacking the government in an effort to restore America to its former glory.
F.E.A.R. had big plans, apparently. They were to steal weapons from Fort Stewart, move their headquarters to a compound in Washington State, and carry out their plans of government takeover. Many of these plans included setting up a security company to act as a front for their criminal activities, bombing a major dam, poisoning the state’s apple crop, and infiltrating the drug trade between Canada and Washington.
Their ultimate goal of assassinating President Obama and seizing control of the government may have been an ambitious one. But their plans were done in by an over-cautious double homicide of two lovers who were only looking to escape to a private life of their own.