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Published: Wednesday, 3/31/2010

9th suspect in militia plot sought refuge at home in Hillsdale County

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

NORTH ADAMS, Mich. — When Joshua Stone showed up on his doorstep late Saturday night, Robert Dudley saw a frightened friend who needed help. He didn't ask questions.

The 80-year-old retired printer directed Mr. Stone and his friends to park their cars behind his Hillsdale County home, near the barn and out of sight from anyone driving down graveled-covered Church Road.

“I have known Josh since he was 5 years old. When a friend needs help, I don't turn them out,” Mr. Dudley said.

Joshua Stone, who is accused of being second in command of a Lenawee County-based militia group known as Hutaree, sought refuge at Mr. Dudley's home just hours after FBI agents raided the Clayton, Mich., home of his father, David Brian Stone.

“They came with nothing except the clothes they were wearing,” Mr. Dudley said. “As far as I know they had no guns.”

For the next two days, Joshua Stone, 21, and his wife, Shannon, Dan Kelly and his girlfriend, and another couple and their baby stayed on the Dudley property. They slept in their cars the first night and stayed in a pop-up camper on Sunday night.

“He said his dad had been arrested and [authorities] were looking for them. They wanted a place to stay so I gave them a place to stay,” Mr. Dudley said.

Mr. Dudley said his friendship with Joshua Stone's 45-year-old father, who is said to be the leader of the Christian-based, anti-government group Hutaree, goes back 15 years.

He said he has attended militia meetings with David Brian Stone at Hillsdale-area restaurants and has permitted his militia group to train in the woods and swamp on the 50-acres that he owns in Wheatland Township.

Mr. Dudley said that the topics of the meetings varied, and sometimes touched on gun rights and the Constitution.

“You name it, we talked about it. Sometimes we talked about the government. Sometimes we talked about other things,” he said.

After learning Sunday afternoon that they were holed up, FBI agents blasted audio recordings of messages from a relative of Joshua Stone's into Mr. Dudley's wooded property.

The six adults and the child emerged unharmed from the woods about 8 p.m. Monday night and surrendered to the dozens of Michigan State Police troopers and FBI agents who had surrounded the property during the standoff.

Joshua Stone, the ninth member of a Christian-based militia group accused in a terrorist plot to kill a police officer and then bomb his funeral to kill more officers, appeared briefly in federal court yesterday afternoon in Detroit.

He, his father, and seven others arrested over the weekend are scheduled to

appear today in U.S. District Court for arraignments and detention hearings.

Also charged in the alleged plot are David Brian Stone's wife, Tina Mae Stone, 44, his son, David Brian Stone, Jr., 19, Joshua John Cough, 28, of Blissfield, Mich., Michael David Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Mich., Thomas William Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind., Kristopher T. Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, and Jacob J. Ward, 33 of Huron, Ohio.

They are all charged with seditious conspiracy, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, and two counts of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.

If convicted, they could spend the rest of the their lives in prison.

Mr. Kelly, 19, said he and his friends met up with Joshua Stone after he learned that his brother, father, and others and had been arrested and their Clayton, Mich. home had been raided.

“We were just a bunch of scared bunny rabbits. We ran instead of turning ourselves in and letting things work themselves out,” he said.

Mr. Kelly was the best man at the March 13 wedding of Joshua and Shannon Stone at the Baptist church in Hudson, Mich. He and his girlfriend moved into the Stone family's mobile home on Tomer Road several weeks ago.

“I have been friends with Josh for a long time. He has been close to me like a brother. I figured I'd stick with him,” he said.

Mr. Kelly returned yesterday to collect his belongings that he had left inside the camper that was parked about 25 feet from Mr. Dudley's front door.

The publications U.S. Army Weapons System 2009 and Military Catalog were among the items that he removed from the camper.

Mr. Dudley said FBI agents had been spent most of yesterday searching his property, including the camper.

An evidence list left inside the camper by FBI agents stated that a cell phone, keys, phone card, batteries, tape, and a computer disk had been seized.

Mr. Kelly said he and his friends and Shannon Stone were later interviewed by agents after they surrendered and eventually were let go.

Mr. Dudley said that his wife, Mary, fixed a big pan of cooked oatmeal for the group in the morning and they went to Jackson, Mich., in the afternoon to buy groceries, using a $50 gift card that Joshua Stone provided.

He said they were stopped by the police barricade when they returned late Sunday with the supplies. By that time, authorities had tracked Joshua Stone to his property by tracking his cell phone use, Mr. Dudley said.

FBI agents and state police took recorded messages from Ray Stone, who is the father of David Brian Stone, to play on a loudspeaker to coax the fugitives into giving up.

Mr. Stone, 70, said he cooperated fully when the authorities approached him for his help on Monday.

“He heard our voices and he figured it was time to give up,” he said.

The elder Mr. Stone said he believes the accusations made by the government against his grandsons and son are false and that their innocence will be revealed in court.

“It's just got way out of hand. There is somebody behind this who egged a lot of this on,” he said. “I feel that this stuff is untrue. I know my kid and I know my grandkids. This is just blown out of proportion.”

Mr. Kelly said that he joined the so-called Hutaree militia outfit but decided that he should leave over the standoff with police.

Joshua Stone, Mr. Kelly, groomsmen, and some invited guests were dressed in military-type camouflage at the wedding two weeks ago of Mr. Stone and the former Shannon Witt at Thorn Hill Baptist Church.

Also, the Rev. Eric Jackson, the pastor of a church in Hartford, Mich., who performed the wedding, was dressed in the same attire, witnesses said.

The Rev. Elton Surgeon, pastor of the church, and his wife said Shannon Stone wore a white wedding gown and her attendees, including Tina Mae Stone who was the maid of honor, wore traditional dresses.

The Spurgeons said they allowed the couple to use their church for the wedding ceremony, in part, because the Stones belong to the congregation.

Mr. Spurgeon said that neither he nor his wife embrace the religious ideology that the Hutaree militia group invoke on their Web site.

“We want it to be made clear that our church knew nothing about their involvement in this type of activity. We had no knowledge of what was going on. We don't condone some of the things that David Stone said in his ramblings,” he said.



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