A former U.S. Navy sailor was taken into custody in Logan by the FBI on Wednesday, suspected of mailing out envelopes suspected to be filled with the deadly poison ricin to multiple federal officials, including President Donald Trump.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah has identified the suspect as William Clyde Allen III, 39.
The man was taken into custody at 380 N. 200 West at about 12:30 p.m. Officials are warning the public to stay away from the area until their operation is complete because hazardous chemicals may be involved, according to FBI Salt Lake City field office spokesman Doug Davis.
During Wednesday’s FBI operation, an explosion of unknown origin could be heard in the back yard of the residence.
“No wider threat to the public safety exists at this time,” Davis said. “As it is a pending matter, that’s all we can say at this time.”
It appears the suspect was taken into custody without incident, and the City of Logan and the Utah Highway Patrol assisted in the closure of 200 West from 300 to 400 North. Logan City Police and the Cache County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the FBI operation.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the 2nd District Court, Allen confessed to sending four letters containing ground castor beans by mail to the president, the FBI director, the Secretary of Defense and the chief of Naval operations.
Allen was booked into the Davis County Jail this evening and authorities are asking that he be held without bail on the grounds that he poses a threat to the public. The FBI is expected to take formal custody of him on Friday for his initial appearance on federal charges.
All four letters sent by Allen tested positive for ricin poison.
In December 2017, Counter Domestic Terrorism, a website that states its mission is to fight child abuse and anti-police or anti-veteran activity, named Allen in its “Hall of Shame” for allegedly threatening another veteran over social media.
The Marine Corps Times provided a glimpse into Allen’s military career which, they say began in 1998 when he enlisted in the Navy. Allen reportedly served as a damage control fireman apprentice for four years. He spent roughly two and a half years on board two different supply ships during that time.
The year after his military career ended, Allen begins to appear in Utah court records beginning with a DUI arrest in 2003.
Then, in 2004, he pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse/neglect, a third degree felony, and in 2008 he was convicted of attempted aggravated assault.
New outlets reported Tuesday that authorities were investigating two envelopes suspected of containing a poison that were addressed to top military chiefs, a third with unknown contents sent to President Donald Trump and a fourth sent to the Texas office of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
The first two suspicious envelopes were addressed to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is traveling in Europe this week, and the Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, a defense official said.
Screening procedures detected each of the envelopes before they made it to their intended destination, White House and Pentagon officials state. They were turned over to the FBI for further analysis.
A source familiar with the ongoing joint federal investigation told CNN that based on preliminary findings, the substance in question was a crude castor bean concoction that authorities have yet to confirm to be ricin. Other reports stated they were simply castor beans.
The search of the suspect’s Logan home continued into the evening Wednesday, and officials have yet to release any information about what was found inside.
Ricin, a byproduct of castor oil, can be deadly if purified.
Wednesday’s arrest marks the second time in recent memory that a threat to the president of the United States had a link to Logan.
In November of 2011, 21-year-old Oscar Ramiro Ortega of Idaho Falls was arrested and charged with firing seven shots from an assault rifle at the second floor of the White House. Ortega had been convicted in Logan a year earlier for illegal possession of alcohol after a traffic stop on 400 North and Main.
Ortega received a 25-year prison sentence for the White House incident, which was reportedly prompted by his belief that President Barack Obama was the “antichrist.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.