Second in a three-part series.
WATERLOO. Iowa --- Because of an incident in November 2004 at the University of Iowa, state law enforcement officials became acquainted with a figure familiar within the extreme animal rights community.
By that time Peter Young already had attained legendary status among like-minded extremists.
Mark Kitsmiller, a supervisory agent with the FBI's office in Cedar Rapids, describes Young as the "self-appointed spokesman" for the Animal Liberation Front.
"I know him because he was very vocal after the University of Iowa attacks, kind of praising the effort," Kitsmiller said.
Young, however, did not respond to multiple email messages to a variety of venues from the Courier seeking comment.
During the incident, a group broke into a building, took laboratory animals, trashed computers and destroyed documents. The damage estimate was about $500,000.
According to federal court documents, investigators invested a good deal of effort tracing Young's possible connection to the crimes and were able to place him near the scene.
Young participated in something called the "Dangerous Media Tour" in September 2004 in Iowa. The event was described online as "a celebration ... of do-it-yourself crime" with advice on picking locks, making free phone calls, stealing and manipulating bar codes, according to court documents.
One of the stops was a home in Cedar Falls. Another was at a bar about a block from the Spence Laboratories at the University of Iowa.
While he was never linked to the Iowa City vandalism, authorities later accused Young and an associate, Justin Samuel, of crimes involving mink operations in South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Young and Samuel, however, went underground, living as fugitives for years. Both were eventually apprehended. Young got caught in 2005 while shoplifting at a Starbuck's in California. He had a handcuff key taped inside his belt when arrested.
Authorities returned Young to Wisconsin to face charges. In September of that year he accepted a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to two counts of animal enterprise terrorism.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Crocker ordered Young to serve two years in federal prison and to pay more than $254,000 in restitution. Crocker also ordered him to complete 360 hours of community service benefitting "humans and no other species."
At his sentencing, Young addressed mink farmers in the gallery, describing raids on their property as "an absolute pleasure." And he encouraged supporters in the courtroom to follow his example.
"It is my last wish before prison that each of you drive to a nearby fur farm tonight, tear down its fence and open every cage," one witness quoted Young as saying.
Young got out of prison in 2007, and he remains active in the cause. He is associated with the North American Animal Liberation Front and maintains Animal Liberation Frontline, a website that shares information about "animal liberation above the law."
"He toes the line on advocating people going out and committing crimes," Kitsmiller said. "But he puts information out there that would make it easy for someone to do that if they were someone who was off that mind-set."
As an example, Young in 2009 assembled "The Blueprint: The Fur Farm Intelligence Report," which includes names, addresses, phone numbers and details about fur farms and related suppliers. The list is organized by state and includes many operations in Iowa.
Young in 2010 twice fell under suspicion. In March, Special Agent Thomas Reinwart with FBI's office in Cedar Rapids got a search warrant for Young's home in Salt Lake City, Utah. That action was connected to the investigation into the incident at the University of Iowa.
Five months later FBI and ATF agents returned, this time trying to confirm a link between Young and Walter Bond, also known as "Lone Wolf."
Bond got his start as an arsonist in Mason City and Cerro Gordo County under the name Walter Edmund Zuehlke. He was convicted of third-degree criminal mischief and trespassing in 1996.
According to court documents, he set fire to a house in 1997, killing a pet inside. For that, Bond was convicted of second-degree arson and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He served about three before his parole in May 2001.
He took up his craft again in April 2010 at the Sheepskin Factory in Glendale, Colo. The arson destroyed the building and caused $500,000 in damage.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado, Bond accepted a plea deal, admitting he used fire to damage a property in interstate commerce and used force or violence against an animal enterprise. He was sentenced in February 2011 to five years in federal prison. The court also ordered Bond to pay more than $1.17 million in restitution.
At his sentencing hearing, Bond said he was honored to be a prisoner of war in the fight against "inter-species slavery."
But in handing down the sentence, Judge Christine Arguello expressed doubts about Bond's motivation.
"It does appear to me from your record that whenever you get upset, the way you act out is to light something on fire," Arguello said.
Bond's legal troubles continued in Utah stemming from fires in June 2010 at the Tandy Leather Factory Store in Salt Lake City and in July 2010 at Tiburon Fine Dining in Sandy, Utah.
He accepted another plea deal in July 2011 in Utah. He was sentenced to serve 7 years and 3 months but allowed to serve the time concurrently with the sentence in Colorado. He is a prisoner at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Ill.
As a condition of Bond's eventual release, the court ordered he have no "association with the Animal Liberation Front or any member either in person, by mail, by phone, by email by third person or by any other method."
Young denied that Bond ever lived in the house in Salt Lake City.
Federal court documents state that Young lives in Issaquah, Wash., and he apparently makes part of his living as a public speaker through Evil Twin Booking in Philadelphia.
On the Voice of the Voiceless website, Young is described as "a frequent lecturer at universities and events, writer on liberation movements and unapologetic supporter of those who work outside the law to achieve human, earth and animal liberation."
According to court documents, Young as of July 2010 still owed about $253,500 in restitution stemming from his convictions in 1998. As a result, the U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis., ordered continued garnishment of Young's income.
An attempt to contact Evil Twin Booking was not successful.
The FBI's Kitsmiller emphasized Young's role as a spokesman and advocate for animal rights represents nothing illegal.
"I think he knows the limits of what he can and cannot say, and he does a good job of staying on the right side of that," Kitsmiller said.