When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Schaeffer Cox
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.
On June 18, 2012, 28-year-old Schaeffer Cox was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder against law enforcement officers, transforming Alaska’s incendiary 2nd Amendment activist from a rising right-wing celebrity into a criminal conspiracy theorist.
Born Francis August Schaeffer Cox in 1984 to parents Gary and Jennifer Cox, Schaeffer was named after the famous evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer. He spent the first half of his life in Colorado, and then his family moved to Alaska in 2000. His father Gary is the pastor of University Baptist Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. Schaeffer was homeschooled through CyberLynx, an Alaskan correspondence program for homeschool students, and graduated from the program in May 2003.
After high school graduate, Schaeffer briefly attended the University of Alaska before he dropped out to start his own construction business. He jumped into politics in 2008, running for the Alaskan House of Representatives and supporting Sarah Palin. He began his extreme advocacy of 2nd Amendment rights in 2009 when he founded the Second Amendment Task Force, drafting the organization’s first declaration that the U.S. must be abolished if gun rights are restricted more. Schaeffer founded another organization in 2009 as well: the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, which almost immediately landed on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)’s list of anti-government groups. SPLC called him “a modern-day poster boy of sorts for the militia movement.” The FBI began to take notice of Schaeffer’s activities once he began bragging about the size of his militia and how, as he put it, “we’ve got rocket launchers and grenade launchers and claymores and machine guns and cavalry, and we’ve got boats.”
According to the FBI, Schaeffer became angered in 2011 by perceived harassment by authorities and announced a murder plot “called ‘241’ (two-for-one) to four members of his Peacemakers Militia.” This murder plot involved militia members kidnapping “two law enforcement officers if Cox or other militia members were arrested. Two targets were to be killed if Cox was killed, and two government buildings were to be burned if Cox’s house is seized.” The plot was foiled because an FBI mole was traveling with militia members when Schaeffer announced the plans to them.
The trial of Schaeffer and other militia members began in May 2012. While Schaeffer and company were originally charged with a diverse number of crimes, most of the charges were dismissed due to evidence being improperly gathered by the government. In the end Schaeffer (and one other individual) was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 26 years in prison. As of December 26, 2013, his attorney was seeking an evaluation of Schaeffer to determine if he was mentally ill. Schaeffer, however, continues to insist he is “a victim of a government conspiracy.”
View the case index here.