Federal authorities are now identifying a 29-year-old Iraq War veteran from Missouri as the prime suspect in two arson attempts on a local Planned Parenthood, as well as in the burning down of a Joplin Mosque last year.
Jedediah Stout confessed this past weekend to attempting to burn down the Planned Parenthood as well as burning down the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque.
According to reports, police were called to Planned Parenthood the night of Oct. 4 after it was discovered that a backpack containing a bottle of clear liquid was thrown into the building. The backpack was reportedly attached to a rope, which was lit on fire. This did only minor damage to the building. The exact same thing was attempted the night before, but failed, so authorities then knew it was a serious situation. Later that night, they found Stout walking the nearby railroad tracks and took him in for questioning.
Police say they confirmed that the man had purchased the same items used in the arson attempts and even found his fingerprints on a bottle near the building.
Stout confessed to both attempts on Planned Parenthood, as well as the successful burning down of the local mosque, which actually wound up bringing in $400,000 in donations from the community.
His Planned Parenthood target does not perform abortions, so it’s unclear what his motive was.
Imam Lahmuddin of the Islamic Society of Joplin says that while the confession doesn’t change what happened, it at least gives local Muslims some peace of mind.
“We always feel welcome here,” said Lahmuddin. “As you can see, the reaction of the community in Joplin after the fire, they’re very supportive and encouraged us to rebuild in Joplin. [Stout’s] arrest will not bring back our mosque, but we at least feel relief, and we know who did what he did.”
Authorities say that he has been charged with the two arson attempts at Planned Parenthood, but has not yet been charged with the mosque arson. In his various online profiles, Stout describes himself as a “politically conservative Christian” and Iraq War veteran.