A 32-year-old Joplin man pleaded guilty Monday to setting a fire that destroyed a Joplin, Mo., mosque and to trying to burn down a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Jedediah Stout pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Springfield to setting the August 2012 fire that destroyed the Islamic Society of Joplin’s mosque. That fire came about a month after an unsuccessful attempt to burn the building.
Stout confessed to setting the fire after he was arrested in 2013 for two unsuccessful attempts to burn the Planned Parenthood clinic in Joplin on successive nights by throwing a backpack containing flammable liquid onto the clinic’s roof and lighting a rope attached as a fuse.
Stout had been in custody since he was charged in October 2013 in connection with the Planned Parenthood crimes, but he had not been charged in the mosque arson until Monday, when he waived his right to a grand jury.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty to two counts of arson, damage to religious property and violating a law that ensures free access to clinic entrances.
According to court documents:
Shortly after the second Planned Parenthood arson attempt, Joplin police saw Stout walking on railroad tracks about five blocks away. Officers noted he was sweating profusely and had a cigarette lighter in his pocket.
An officer said that after taking the lighter from Stout’s pocket, his hand smelled of some type of fuel.
Stout was cited for trespassing on the railroad tracks and jailed.
Investigators later linked Stout to the Planned Parenthood incidents after tracing items found at the crime scene to a Wal-Mart in Joplin.
A backpack matching one used in the first arson attempt and three camouflage-colored rope dog toys, similar to the one that was used as a fuse, were bought at the store two days before the first arson attempt.
A bottle of alcohol also was purchased. A receipt listed the buyer’s date of birth. It matched that of Stout.
Investigators viewed store video of that transaction and identified Stout as the person making the purchase.
His fingerprints later were found on a plastic bottle containing liquid that was thrown onto the clinic roof.
Stout confessed to the crimes after his arrest. He told investigators that in the first Planned Parenthood incident, he used gasoline from his family’s lawnmower. In the second attempt, he used lamp oil.
He admitted he used the same type of device — a backpack with a bottle of flammable liquid inside — to burn the mosque.
According to the documents, Stout said he didn’t like Islam and he didn’t approve of abortion and thought people who perform abortions should be arrested.
He will be sentenced after an investigation is completed.