When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Isaac Aguigui

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

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Isaac Aguigui

On December 6, 2011, 20-year-old Isaac Aguigui, a Private in the United States Army, murdered 17-year-old Tiffany York and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Michael Roark.

Isaac Aguigui was the leader of a secret militia group aiming to assassinate President Barack Obama and seize control of the U.S. government.

Isaac Aguigui was the leader of a secret militia group aiming to assassinate President Barack Obama and seize control of the U.S. government.

Isaac served with Michael at the Fort Stewart Army base in Hinesville, Georgia. Isaac and his friends lured Tiffany and Michael, who were dating, to a secluded patch of woods near the military base and then shot them to death. Isaac was afraid they would not keep secret Isaac’s plans for a secret militia. Those plans were to bomb major dams, poison Washington State’s apple crop, infiltrate the drug trade, and — ultimately — “assassinate President Barack Obama and seize control of the U.S. government.”

Isaac and his co-conspirators and murder partners, Private Christopher Salmon, Private Michael Burnett, and Sergeant Anthony Peden, called themselves FEAR: Forever Enduring, Always Ready. Prior to the murder, they had been aggressively stockpiling weapons and ammunition, accumulating $87,000 worth in a matter of months. Isaac funded all of this with money from $500,000 in insurance benefits he received from his wife’s death. Though Isaac was not charged in her death at the time, a judge called the death “highly suspicious.” His wife was 6 months pregnant at the time of her death.

Isaac’s mother Annette homeschooled him and his five siblings for most of their lives while his father served in the Army as a combat engineer. They were homeschooled because, according to his father Edward, “there was some curriculum we didn’t agree with, like evolution versus creation. We wanted to teach them in our way.” Annette’s grandmother was surprised by her grandson’s violent streak, saying that, “When they were little kids, they weren’t even allowed to have guns. Isaac never got into trouble, and was always helping out. I have no idea what happened.”

In 2008, Isaac was a page at the Republican National Convention. According Heather Salmon, the wife of one of Isaac’s co-conspirators, Isaac envisioned FEAR not as an anarchistic militia but rather a patriotic one: “Isaac agreed with the Founding Fathers,” she said, “that there should be a revolution every 10 years.” The end purpose was to “give the government back to the people.”

During interrogation after his arrest, Isaac fell apart:

“You ever think how Dr. Frankenstein thought when Frankenstein ripped his first person in half?” Aguigui asked the agent. “‘Dear Jesus, what have I created?’ And all he wants to do is go back to that moment before he brought it to life.”

The agent asked, “What’s the monster?”

Aguigui sobbed. “I think it’s me.”

On July 19, 2013, Isaac pleaded guilty to the murder of Tiffany York and Michael Roark. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Just weeks prior, he was also charged by the Army for the murder of his pregnant wife. His words during his interrogation — “I’m just going to end up in a jail cell alone for the rest of my life.” — were ultimately prophetic.

View the case index here.

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