Mother breaks silence about teen daughter's murder, terror plot - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Mother breaks silence on teen daughter's murder, soldiers' terror plot

Posted: Updated:

Details of a terror plot targeting Fort Stewart, Savannah, military leaders and President Barack Obama is still sinking in. 

Information about a militia group calling themselves FEAR, Forever Enduring Always Ready, made up of at least five Fort Stewart soldiers and others, came out in court Monday morning.

Pvt. Michael Burnett testified as part of a plea deal about the deaths of Michael Rourk, 19, who left the Army three days before his murder, and his 17-year-old girlfriend Liberty High School junior Tiffany York.

Burnett said Roark and York were casualties of the terror group's plans and knew too much once Roark left the Army and the group.

York's mother, Brenda Thomas, has remained silent since her daughter's brutal murder last December. WTOC spoke with her exclusively Tuesday afternoon.

Thomas said she no idea her daughter was in any kind of danger and feared telling her story because she didn't want to compromise the case against her daughter's accused killers.

Now, she's afraid there may be more members of FEAR out there.

"I can't believe it. You know you think there are bad people outside our country who want to hurt us, but not people here who are supposed to be protecting our country," Thomas told WTOC.

Fighting back tears is all Thomas can do nine months after her daughter was murdered and left in the woods of Long County.

"Four soldiers, who I don't call soldiers anymore. I call them individuals - cold blooded killers," Thomas said. "They took my daughter away from me."

Tiffany was still in high school, but left home against her family's wishes just a few weeks before the murders to live with Roark, a soldier at Fort Stewart.

"I thought he was a nice guy," Thomas told WTOC of Roark. "I just wanted her to be happy and Michael made her happy."

On Dec. 5, 2011, Liberty County sheriff's deputies called Thomas in for questioning. She had not heard from Tiffany.

"It seemed so unreal, like, this isn't really happening to us," she said.

Three days later, authorities confirmed York and Roark had been murdered. Four soldiers were later arrested for the crime.

"It blew me away that soldiers who are supposed to protect our country and protect us would do something like this," Thomas said. "I didn't understand. I still don't understand."

That first week, Thomas started to learn about the terror group Roark was trying to get away from and their terrorist plots.

"How are these guys planning on assassinating the president of the United States? Generals? Command units at Fort Stewart? I don't understand," she said. "Never would I think she was hanging out with people who were so dangerous and planning such dangerous things."

"Did Tiffany ever reach out to you and say, 'Mom, I think I am caught up in something I am not supposed to be,'" WTOC asked.

"No, never. I don't think she had a clue," Thomas said. "She was a smart girl. She wouldn't be around that if she knew she was in danger."

The reality and scope of the danger hit home Monday when Thomas went to court and heard the testimony and details of her daughter's death.

Details came from Burnett, who admitted to being a part of FEAR. He said the group was led by fellow 3rd ID soldier Isaac Aguigui. Burnett called him the leader and mastermind who ordered the execution style murders York and Roark.

Burnett said Aguigui considered them "loose ends" after Roark left the Army, and tried to leave the group.

"I know my daughter was shot in the head. But then he said the shooter went to check if she had a pulse and he shot her again," Thomas said. "And he stood up there and said, if he could have stopped this, he would have, and he didn't. He didn't say anything. He went home. They all went home." 

The pain won't go away. Neither does the fear.

Thomas said information she received from the Liberty County District Attorney's Office and the military about Aguigui has her worried and wondering if authorities got everyone involved.

"I believe it is larger than just four or five. It's bigger. I think there is more. There is more to the story," she said.

She added that Aguigui is another Charles Manson. "I do think he would have been able to act out these heinous crimes. I believe that," she said.

Thomas said military officials admitted to her and the district attorney's office they were worried about Aguigui and what he may be up to, but rather than discharge him, they kept him under watch.

Fort Stewart officials did not confirm that but do believe they have the majority of the FEAR group's members in custody.

The FBI released a statement to WTOC regarding the FEAR terror group.

"The FBI is not in a position to clarify or comment on this matter due to pending criminal prosecution by the State of Georgia," said Stephen Emmett from FBI's Atlanta office in a statement.

Aguigui and two others are expected in Liberty County Court on Thursday afternoon.

Copyright 2012 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Militia Plot Slayings

See previous stories, watch testimony from a Long County double murder case and a militia group.

Powered by WorldNow