A Toledo woman was arrested and charged in federal court in December of 2018 after she purchased black powder and screws that she believed were going to be used to make a pipe bomb as part of an attack on an “upscale” Toledo, Ohio restaurant, prosecutors said.
Elizabeth “Bee” Ridge LeCron, 23, was charged with one count of transportation of explosives and explosive material for the purposes of harming others and property.
Federal officials said she “explicitly stated (a) desire to engage in acts of death and destruction.”
She pleaded guilty eight months after being first charged.
LeCron was part of the true crime community on Tumblr. Her page was shadow-banned to Tumblr users and was temporarily visible to non-users.
LeCron, of Maumee and Toledo, Ohio, was vocal on her Tumblr account and frequently posted images having to do with mass murder, school shootings and, in particular, she was a fan of white supremacist and convicted mass murderer Dylann Roof.
Roof is the mass murderer convicted of killing nine African-Americans, including a senior pastor and state senator, in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. He confessed saying he’d hoped to ignite a race war. Nearly two years later, Roof pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty on state charges, but in 2017, the US Department of Justice’s jury recommended death. He’s awaiting execution at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Monday, Roof devotee LeCron appeared in federal court and waived a preliminary hearing and was ordered held without bail; she did not object, according to federal court documents. She was appointed a federal public defender.
On Thursday Aug. 29, LeCron pleaded guilty. LeCron wept in court, local Toledo media reported, as she admitted to conspiracy to provide and conceal material support and resources to terrorists and to transporting explosives in interstate commerce as part of a plea deal. The other charges were dropped. LeCron will spend 15 years in prison.
“This defendant has admitted to plotting a terrorist attack in downtown Toledo …(LeCron) purchased a shotgun, black powder, screws and other items for the purpose of launching mass-casualty attacks,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said in a press release Aug. 29.
Here’s what you need to know about Elizabeth ‘Bee’ Ridge LeCron:
1. A Friend of LeCron’s Told Toledo Police in June That She Was Planning a Violent Attack. Investigators Visited Her Tumblr Page & Found Disturbing Content & Soon an Undercover Investigation Was Under Way
According to an affidavit filed in the case, LeCron came to the attention of law enforcement in June when a friend told authorities they were concerned when LeCron and her boyfriend Vincent Armstong “expressed a desire to conduct a violent attack.” But it was more than a desire as she already had an arsenal, court records show. Months after the feds were first on to LeCron, a search warrant found she had an AK-47 a shotgun a number of handguns large quantity of ammunition and a plastic shopping bag containing numerous end caps which can be used in the manufacturing of pipe bombs.
From the beginning, investigators were shocked by the “frequently posted voluminous photographs and comments on social media glorifying mass murderers, including the Columbine shooters and Dylann Roof.”
After her Tumblr account ‘ligaturemarkings’ was shut down because of offensive content, LeCron started a new profile, CharlestonChurchMiracle, where she continued to post photos and comments about mass casualty attacks, the second account an apparent homage to Roof. On this page, as was the case with her first page, she reblogged frequent disturbing posts about mass murders, serial killers, school shooters including the Columbine killers and of late, Nickolas Cruz, the accused Parkland shooter. But the posts were not just re-blogs, rather appeared a call to action, feds say.
Court records and her Tumblr pages show the seriousness with which the platform took her commentary – they shut her page down – but also even people on Tumblr from the True Crime community who said she was “disturbed.” Court records reveal a Tumblr user comment on a LeCron post, “U were trying to kill! U are scary admit urself into a ward. U and ur BF are the next mass shooters if someone doesn’t stop you!!!!”
2. In August of 2018, Undercover Federal Agents & Confidential Sources Had Infiltrated & Planned to Thwart Her Alleged Plot to Bomb a Toledo Restaurant
As she wrote on her CharlestonChurchMiracle Tumblr page, “let’s get this murder …” which authorities believe is a reference to her alleged plan to bomb an eatery.
In August, undercover FBI agents and confidential sources began communicating with LeCron as presumed allies. She told undercover agents that she had devised a plan to commit an ‘upscale mass murder’ at a Toledo bar. She said she knew the bar only had two ways in or out, which could be a tactical advantage when police arrived.
Meanwhile, she and her friend, who was working with feds by that time, flew to Denver to visit Columbine High School. LeCron and Armstrong also had copiously filed journals with myriad details about plans for mass murder and included, “I have also bought caps from the local hardware store for bombs, pipe bombs to be exact. Soon we will bring destruction to society. Fuck them. They are worthless unGodlike scum who want to live by their rules and constructs.”
Around this time, she also began corresponding with Roof. And he replied. Federal officials said he has only corresponded with four people; LeCron being one. He asked her to send him books on Nazis. She did and followed up with letters telling him to be strong and saying a lot of people cared about him.
Her relationship with Roof may not comport to some of her implied beliefs as evidenced by one of her three Twitter accounts where she frequently retweets Bernie Sanders posts.
Still, in August of 2018, an undercover agent contacted her through her Tumblr and it was then that LeCron stated she wanted to meet other anarchists in order to form a team. She stated she wanted to damage a livestock farm to set livestock free. She later confirmed she was willing to sabotage anything that harms the environment.
A week later, on August 28, she reiterated she wanted to attack a farm that raises pigs or cows. The next day, LeCron stated she could not locate such a farm and was going to focus on something else, authorities said about another of LeCron’s alleged plots for domestic terror.
3. In September, LeCron Told Undercover Agents She Wanted to Make a Pipe Bomb. By December, She’d Purchased Bomb-Making Materials
In September, Lecron met with undercover FBI agents and stated she and an associate started to make a pipe bomb. She stated she “definitely want(ed) to make a statement up here” and thought the place where she worked could be a good target because she believed they were polluting the river behind the plant.
On December 4, LeCron has discussions with an undercover agent regarding a pipeline bombing. LeCron agreed to buy black powder needed to make a bomb.
On December 8, LeCron met with a source at a retail sporting good stores, where she entered the store by herself and purchased two pounds of Hodgson Triple Seven Muzzleloading Propellant. She then went to a larger retailer in Perrysburg, where she purchased 665 screws of various sizes, some as large as three inches.
LeCron said to the source: “So I guess I’ll talk to you when the deed is done?” She later said: “I’m very excited…stick it to him man …be safe.”
You can read the full affidavit in support of the federal arrest warrant here:
4. LeCron Has Family in the Toledo & Maumee, Ohio Area. Her Mother Died in 2013, When LeCron Was 18. She’s Since Had Dark & Violent Interests She’s Shared on Social Media
According to an obituary from March of 2103, LeCron’s mother Catherine Ridge LeCron “died unexpectedly” at 48.
The obituary states that LeCron has a brother, Matthew, who is on Facebook. LeCron’s mother married Joseph Schlagheck in 1994, in Atlanta and Elizabeth was born in 1995 and Matthew in 1999.
In 2017, LeCron’s Twitter profile read: “DON’T TALK TO ME! DON’T LOOK AT ME! DON’T ACKNOWLEDGE ME! FORGET I EXIST! IF SOMEONE ASKS YOU, YOU DON’T KNOW ME!”
Her @ name was shorthand for nationwide manhunt: @ntnwidemanhunt
LeCron has re-blogged numerous school shooters, serial killers and mass murders on her Tumblr. It appears that after her mother died, she entered a dark phase and posted on Twitter and on Tumblr about depression, sadness, death, and violence.
LeCron is a ‘furry,’ a fandom subculture into anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. She also has artwork on a site called Deviant Art.
Most of her pieces are of her furry self, RaZzy Mongoose, but she did a pen and ink that featured Roof with Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the Columbine killers with the caption, ‘Hey, what’s with the bowl cut?” She used several hashtags, including naming Roof so a user who called their self Dylann Roof responded: “Hahahaha.” Other tags were #church #columbine #crime #dylan #eric #harris #killers #klebold #mass #massacre #roof #serial #shooting #storm #true #dylann.
5. The FBI Announced LeCron’s Arrest Monday. She’s Being Held Without Bail
FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fortunato said locking up LeCron “thwarts her explicitly stated desire to engage in acts of death and destruction. This case is a testament to the value of an ever vigilant public, which had the courage to alert law enforcement as to the evil goals and intentions of this suspect.”
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is composed of members of the FBI, Homeland Security and Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Toledo Police Department, is leading the ongoing investigation. They were assisted by the FBI’s office in Denver. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman.
If convicted, the LeCron’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
“This defendant bought black powder and hundreds of screws that she expected would be used to make a bomb,” Justin E. Herdman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio said. “Through her words and actions, she demonstrated that she was committed to seeing death and destruction in order to advance hate. This case demonstrates terrorism comes in many guises and we will remain vigilant to protect all Americans.”
Her guilty plea on Aug. 29 means she’ll spend 15 years in prison and the rest of her life under federal supervision.