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Tiller's Killing Puts Abortion Issue Back in Spotlight

Hundreds gathered in downtown Wichita, Kansas, Sunday to remember George Tiller, the abortion doctor shot dead at his church Sunday morning during weekly services. Video by AP

"I said, 'You need to get out of here. You can get in a lot of trouble,' " Dinwiddie recalled.

Dinwiddie does not consider Tiller's death a murder.

"I don't think he was murdered," she said. "I believe he was absolutely stopped in his tracks and it was long overdue."

Dave Leach, who also signed the statement, said he published some of Roeder's writings in the newsletter Prayer & Action News, which describes itself as "a trumpet call for the Armies of God to assemble."

Leach, who described Roeder as "anti-government," said he stopped to see Roeder in Kansas years ago after visiting Rachelle "Shelley" Shannon in prison. Shannon was convicted of shooting Tiller in his arms outside his clinic 16 years ago.

Roeder's arrest in April 1996 on explosives charges -- dismissed when a court ruled that the car search was improper -- came during a period in which he was captivated by the anti-government Montana Freemen, his father said.

The group, which said it owed allegiance to no government authority, held FBI agents at bay for 81 days before surrendering peacefully. John Roeder, who has since died, told the Atchison Daily Globe that year that his son was "obsessed" and went to Montana for unspecified training.

"Scott would not kill a fly. He would not kill a worm," the elder Roeder said. "So how could he possibly, unless he was being used by somebody, be planning anything that would take human life?"

Roeder's ex-wife told the Associated Press that he had become "very religious, in an Old Testament, eye-for-an-eye way," and moved out of the house at about this time, after 10 years of marriage and one son.

"That's all he cared about is antiabortion, 'the church is this, God is this,' yada yada," Lindsey Roeder said. "The anti-tax stuff came first, and then it grew and grew."

While Roeder remained in custody Monday, flowers stretched for 25 feet along a tall wooden fence outside Tiller's clinic. A police cruiser sat in the driveway, but on the day after the killing, at least, there were more tears than trouble.

Tiller "did what was right. He did nothing illegal," Julie Lawson, 45, said after placing a bouquet. "I knew that if I ever needed him or my daughter ever needed him or a loved one ever needed him, he was there. And now he's not."

Staff writers Garance Franke-Ruta, Philip Rucker, Jacqueline L. Salmon and Rob Stein and staff researcher Julie Tate, all in Washington, contributed to this report.

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