Woodburn (OR) Fatal Bombing III
Bill Long 12/19/08
Things Begin to Fall Apart
So, all we know at this point (about 10:00 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 12), is that a phone with a collection of boxes or other objects, the "hoax" bomb, has been placed in a dumpster/garbage can outside the Wells Fargo bank branch in Woodburn, OR. Well, there are two Wells Fargo banks there, and the important one for our case is the one at 2600 Newberg Highway. The West Coast Bank, also important in our caper, is located next door at 2540 Newberg Highway. Maybe they even "share" the dumpster, but I doubt it.
Well, now the sad drama unfolds. Though all the newspaper reports emphasize the 10:19 a.m. call to Wells Fargo from one of the purchased cell phones, which really initiated the "case," the call to Wells Fargo was the fourth call made from one of the cell phones. A brief narrative of those prior calls illustrates what must have been a sense of growing frustration for those who thought they had hatched the "perfect" crime.
The calls really began at 10:03 a.m. The first three calls all went to the West Coast Bank, though the cell phone records indicate that the first two went to "Mid-Valley Bank." West Coast acquired Mid-Valley a few years ago, and so we are really talking about calls to the same institution. Well, the first two calls went to a local number (area code 503), at 10:03 and 10:07 a.m, lasting, respectively, 35 and 30 seconds. Why would a caller make two calls to the same bank? Probably because he faced what all of us face when we call our local bank--a recorded message. So, he probably listened to the recorded message to hear a few of the array of options, didn't hear an option that said, "If you plan to bomb the bank, press 666," and then hung up. He called a second time, possibly figuring that he could go around the phone menu. Indeed, maybe he had listened to "easy listening" John Tesh's evening Christmas radio show, where John gives helpful advice to all, including how to get around an impersonal recorded phone greeting and get right to a "live" person. But this apparently didn't work either. So, in growing frustration, at 10:08 he called the 800 number for West Coast bank, which probably would have been answered in Bangalore, and decided to hang up after 15 seconds. No luck. Damn! Life is really bad when you can't even get through to someone you are wanting to warn or threaten to kill! Where were the good old days, where people used to answer their own phones?
We don't know who actually made the three cell phone calls to Mid-Valley/West Coast. If the Turnidges' were the ones who did the crime, it was either dad or son. In any case, frustration would no doubt be growing, since they obviously couldn't get through to West Coast Bank in Woodburn. Just think, the possibilities of their hoax bomb and carefully-placed cell phone may be unraveling right before their eyes or ears. So, the caller waited ten minutes, and then made a call, at 10:19, to Wells Fargo Bank. What was he doing in those ten minutes? Hm. Talking with his "accomplice" and wondering what to do? Looking up the phone number of Wells Fargo? Oh, my, things are already starting to get a little out of control or, at least, things aren't working out the way you planned on it.
Maybe they just should have stopped right then and there and said, "Oops, there are complications entering in, which I hadn't counted on. Maybe there will be further complications down the road. I had better stop, retrieve the fake stuff, retrieve the little green box (we will get to that in a moment--for that had the "real bomb") and quit. Maybe, they could even take the stuff back to Wal-Mart.
But no, the moments for change of mind, what the law calls the locus poenitentiae, quickly passed. So, at 10:19 a.m., the caller placed a call to Wells Fargo. Finally, a voice, a real live voice answered on the other end. And, indeed, this call lasted 69 seconds, long enough to wish a person Holiday greetings and inquire about the health of one's family. But in this case, the caller, according to the person answering the phone at Wells Fargo, told everyone to leave the bank immediately if they wanted to live. The caller also informed the person that a cell phone would be found next to the garbage can--hinting at instructions to follow, I suppose. Then, as a sort of afterthought, the caller said that he would also be calling West Coast Bank. Hadn't he been doing that unsuccessfully? Sound like a conflicted person?
Now Things Get Interesting
So, what did the caller think he was doing? Obviously he wanted to get people out of the Wells Fargo Bank and the West Coast Bank. He placed a hoax bomb with the cell phone in the dumpster/garbage can (one report said that it was next to the garbage, so that isn't completely clear to me), so that no one would get "hurt." Plainly he wanted someone from the bank to go out and wait around the dumpster for instructions to come in a cell phone call. What would he have told them? Well, I think that the caller was planning to say something like the following when someone answered the cell phone in the garbage (actually, not one, but two dropped--unanswered--calls were made to the cell phone in the garbage, at 10:24 and 10:26, so he was intending someone to pick up the cell phone):
"Ok, listen closely. The boxes underneath/around the phone are not a real bomb. But there is a real bomb not far from you. You better tell everyone to get out of there right now. Warn the people at West Coast bank [because he was having trouble getting through...]. No one will get hurt. Now go, and tell everyone, or you will die."
I think the caller was planning to say something like this. He was definitely expecting someone from Wells Fargo to dash out and stand by the dumpster, obediently waiting for "instructions." Thus, the banks would be "cleared" of people. But what is going on in his mind with all these preparations?
A few scenarios rush through my mind. The most probable, for me, is this: the caller wanted people to evacuate in an orderly fashion so he and his accomplice could swoop in and rob the bank/s. Perhaps father and son were waiting in a nearby location and, after the banks were evaculated, they would get the money and pick up the green suitcase/utility kit which had the "real bomb." I think they really didn't "intend" to hurt anyone. It is just that people didn't act according to the way their simple plan planned it.
The next essay explains how things went really, really awry.