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Sorrell

What Woody Said

Woody identified himself and said many things to the parishioners which they remember, including that he had been threatened. Here are excerpts from eyewitness statements to state police investigators pertaining to what they remember Woody saying.

Eyewitnesses

Norman
Woody said, "I'm asking for sanctuary here."
source:12/2 interview, p.2
The message I got was that he was afraid for his life, that he was going to be killed.
source:?
It also seemed to me that he said something about having developed an auto engine that was arousing the opposition of car manufacturers.
.
Mary T
He had been "told" he would be tortured and how he felt that because of his environmental efforts, this was related to those directly and he was being pursued.
... he;d be brought up in Norwich Connecticut and then he lived awhile in Amherst and then he moved up to Bellows Falls, and that he worked with handicapped children as his vocation and as his avocation he was an environmental activist. people.
Again, pleaded for sanctuary by saying he'd never rile against the Bush administration or people connected with him, or the military.
I'll never rile against the Bush Administration again, or the military or any of these other things. I just can not leave here, I am in danger. So that was stuck in there right before the police arrived.
source:12/2 interview, p.2
As an environmental activist he was being threatened in all kinds of ways by people that wanted to kill him or torture him both and they would spell out the kind of torture, which he didn't spell out, and he was asking us for sanctuary as a Unitarian Church.
source:12/2 interview, p.2
(describing writing on checks) "Save Fuel, Save The Environment." "Bumper stickers, Be Patriotic, Burn Less Fuel, Be Patriotic, Run For Office." "Help!" "Please" "Read To All Unitarians."
source:12/2 interview, p.3
He said he knew other Unitarians and he really felt we were the ones to help him. And he felt that these people that were threatening him were either from the CIA or the US Military, and they were out to get him and we had to help him.. and he related that he felt he was being pursued all the time and he didn't want to leave the building. He wouldn't listen to anyone trying to calm him down.
source:12/2 interview, p.4
He was trying to convince people that what he was saying was true and he could verify his own background and his sincerity and all this stuff. And then as I said, he did a second round of these notes and he did hand them out.
source:3/25 synopsis
She did not think he was mentally ill, think something happened that caused him to snap.
.
Clifton
source:12/3 interview, p.1
Kind of upset and talking about his feeling that he was being persecuted and somebody was- forces were going to hurt him in some way and capture him and torture him and then kill him.
source:12/3 interview, p.1
(describing writing on checks) they made statements that environmental causes such as the need to develop an automobile and devices that would take less fuel ...
.
Robert
source:12/2 interview
(Describing Woody's speech) Get out and vote, work for peace and protect the environment. He seemed to stress the environment, working for that, but the next breath, and this took over, he said he had been threatened, he received phone calls, the police were after him, going to be tortured, and then he went on and on. He was coming here to the sanctuary for protection.
Who was he threat By?
CIA, the police, but he wasn't very specific.
did he say why?
The implication we got was because of his activism... he was on somebody's list and they were out to get him and he used the word torture quite often.
He said don't leave, stay here, you are my witness. It was very important to him that bodies were in their seats, paying attention to him.
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Janis
source:12/2 interview, p.2
I have to speak to everyone. I have to speak to everyone. The notes stated that he had been receiving threats of bodily harm ... by the CIA. He kept saying he was going to read a statement to us, it was very important, he needed us to be his witnesses. He appeared to be very agitated. He was sweating. He kept repeating the same sentence over and over again. Finally we said, we'll listen, we'll listen. He pulled out a sheet of paper and he put his hands on the podium and kind of looked like he was praying. And he paused for a moment and said "whew!" He took off his jacket and he said he was very hot, and then he began his statement. And he said, you know, his name. I believe he said his name was Robert, last name Woodward, friends call him Woody. Being persecuted for his activities. He works with kids. I believe he said troubled kids. Said he didn't do drugs, doesn't drink. A couple of members offered to sit with him separately, to go and talk to him and sit with him. He did say that was OK, and so he sat beside him. He kept saying that if we wanted... if we didn't believe him... if anyone had a cell phone, he would call the person on the cell phone, and he kept asking, and I actually said we don't have a cell phone. He said he was seeking sanctuary in this sanctuary. He kept repeating it over and over again. Some people were telling us to leave. He said no.
He is receiving threats of bodily harm, electric shocks, for his activities, by CIA. He kept saying he needed to read his statement and we needed to be his collective witnesses. He kept repeating the same sentences. Took off his jacket. Said he it very hot. Friends call him Woody. Works with kids. Being persecuted for his activities. Doesn't drink or do drugs.
He calmed down slightly when he was able to read his statement. He kept taking deep breaths and reading his statement. That was about the calmest the whole time.
After he had pulled out the knife and he was waving that around in the beginning. Several minutes later he went into his pocket again, and I thought, he's pulling out a gun, but he didn't. He pulled out a handful of cards. They seemed like credit cards and papers, and he was trying to do something with that. "I have this, I have this" I think there was more information that he was wanting to show us, that he was real, that he was honest and what he was doing. He kept trying to show us that he had proof that everything he was saying was true. The phone calls...he had a list of names we could call. He had ways of proving to us that everything he was doing was real. His whole persecution about the CIA. But he didn't pull out anything in terms of weapons or anything like that. The only thing we ever saw was the knife.
He waved his hands in front of his face, as if to dismiss the man, saying, no, no, no I have to talk. I have to talk. As if by waving his hands the man would just magically back off and every time someone tried to get him to do something, he would wave his hands like, no, no, no I have to keep talking. I have to keep talking. I have to do this. I have to do this.
.
Clifton
He mentioned other things about being an activist in Amherst MA, and originally from CT and he was a counselor for mentally ill and boys, I think he said he was in Bellows Falls. He talked about himself in the first part of the time he was there, and he wouldn't ever, ever say anything against the Bush administration again, you know, that was one of his last statements, that he wasn't going to do that anymore. There was a lot of rambling that went on, but some of it made sense, but it was disconnected, and made me feel like he had his issues confused. Heavy emphasis on environmental pollution that he was upset by.
He certainly acted psychotic, and he was really threatening to himself. He was just depreciating himself, and sort of pleading for people to help him, and yet he wasn't accepting it.
.
Phyllis
"ranting and raving" He'd been getting threatening calls. He said he had been threatened for torture, to be tortured. And I can't even recall who.. the CIA.. and he named all these people, I remember he said Bob Marley, these people had been killed by the CIA and it looked like cancer but they had been killed by the CIA, and he just ranting.
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Polly
The man said he was going to be tortured for his beliefs. He went to the lectern and he was breathing heavily and having a hard time and saying "I'm here"
I think he said he didn't want to be tortured, and rather than be tortured he would hurt himself.
.
Heidi
source:12/3 interview, p.2
He said that they were after him, that they were going to get him, they offered him a job, and that he really needed help and this was a sanctuary.
source:12/3 interview, p.2
... and he ... then ranted and raved about his causes and being persecuted and then he started going ... coming out into the rows of people and handing out his speech and what he thought we should all memorize to help him and he kept saying this is a sanctuary and I want you to help me. Which was very appealing, very sad because he knew he was not totally with it.
source:12/3 interview, p.3
He had introduced himself by name twice and then said I'm usually called Woody.
source:12/3 interview, p.3
He said you gotta stay, You got to help me. Don't come close, and that's when he pulled out... pulled out his knife... He put his head down on the podium. He honestly tried to collect whatever craziness was going on, and then he ranted and raved, and so when he got his knife out, and I mean, I had no clue, what else did he have with him, if he had a knife, what else did he have?
.
Charles
He's mostly saying he wanted some sort of sanctuary, that he was being threatened and he was an environmental person ... and activist of some kind of environmental cause and that he ... we needed to do what he said or, you know, ah.. he could be tortured and killed. He's been threatened by authorities. He was a psychiatric worker, He worked with kids, adolescents. And a little bit about his background.
He had a sweatshirt and a sweater which he took off before he started talking. And threw it on the floor. Took it off and then he just had a shirt on.
.
Bob
Speaking about threats to his life for his political acts. He was pleading for sanctuary in this Unitarian church. If he didn't get it he was going to di, be tortured and killed. He was close to breaking down, (crying.) He stopped at one point to take a breath and collect himself.
I need to read my statement and you must... he was fumbling around and he got some papers out of somewhere and he started to read his statement. ...no, no, I'm going to do what I'm going to do. You have to listen. And he wouldn't shut up. He just was very determined that he was going to have his say.
I want sanctuary in here and I'm going to be alright. He said I vow, .. he said I ... I vow to stop my anti-nuke activities or something along those lines ... I vow to be no threat ah ... to anyone in this building, Ah ... on ... well something along the lines unless you betray me and call the police in or something you know.
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Iain
The man was saying "Shut up"
There seemed to be a definite source for those threats, like the military, CIA, Ecological Activism and something about George Harrison. The man said something about torture and death while the children were still in the room.
.
Adelbert
source:12/2 interview, p.1
He was puffing and puffing and he said (deep breath) I'm glad I've gotten here. He said he was being, that he was in danger and he was in here to ah be in a protected place. Wanted sanctuary in church. That he'd been advocating fuel conservation and a number of causes that to me seem quite reasonable, but that because of this he was in great danger. He wanted to.. urge us politically to do these things, most of which I agree with, but he was also saying that he wanted us to protect him from people that were out to kill him. They were going to kill him because of these u.. sort of liberal points of view he was advocating.
What was he in danger of?
Of being killed.
.
Tommy
(Woody said to him ) I don't know this man, who are you?
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Jane
source:12/2 written statement
He had been working on a cause "but not in enough isolation." "I've been a peace activist and work in the environment, now they (the CIA) want me to join them." "Take my written messages and share them with others." Apologized for "needing to take desperate action, but I feel justified because such drastic action has been taken against me."
source:12/2 interview, p.2
That now the CIA wanted him to work with them. He proceeded to tell us different plots that were being planned. He said that he had messages for us and he handed us ... I have a couple right here, said that he had messages that he wanted to get out to all the people, and he was demanding to have sanctuary in a Unitarian church, and that we needed to help get the messages out.
source:12/2 interview, p.2
(Messages written on checks, read by detective): "I have received threats of death, torture, harm to friends and family and arrest on trumped up charges from the CIA." ... "The Unitarians should create and promote national network of buyers, co-ops for energy efficient vehicles."
source:12/2 interview, p.2
He apologized for scaring people and he said when you're under ... that he needed to take desperate action but, "I feel justified because such drastic action has been taken against me."
.
Donna
source:12/3 interview
"I'm here because I need asylum," Some things he just kept repeating which were: "I'm here because I need you to listen to me. I need witness. I'm here because I need political asylum, I'm here I want to tell you my story. I just need to tell you my story."
"Don't anybody leave I need witness, I need you to hear me, I need you to tell me. Blah, blah, blah, blah."
That's what they were, out of a sort of small bag with a little closure at the top, something like a bottle of bourbon would come out of, something like that. And he sort of flung it down and it had something heavy or hard in it because it made a noise on the podium and then he had two pieces of paper from somewhere that he may have brought up to them before I got there from before I got there because I didn't see them. And he kept looking those over from back and he said I just want to tell you who I am. And he proceeded to say he was Bob Woodward, and he said I have some nickname and he said please call me that. He was trying to be familiar with us, but none of us knew him...
"Just give me a minute, I'm going to get to it here," then he wanted to tell us where he was born, when he was born, and none of it was making any sense.
You've got to stay, nobody can leave, nobody can leave, you got to hear me, I need witness. You must understand. And then he started repeating "They're going to assassinate me, I've already been followed, threatened, and he mentioned CIA, US Government, other governments, he was just going on and on, and that's when he started to get an air of threat which was don't leave, nobody can leave.
.
Michael
source:12/2 written statement
He came out into the congregation and began handing out directly and leaving on the chairs, yellow pieces of paper, before returning to the pulpit. He handed me one which I glanced at and noticed it had a scribbled sentence that was non-sensible, but related to ideas of persecution. I picked up a couple pieces that were on the chair and put them all in my pocket. When he returned to the pulpit he paused, put his head down on the pulpit for about five seconds, and then abruptly straightened up while taking a couple big breaths. He then produced a piece of paper from which he began reading. Again this contained ideas of persecution with him saying something about the environment, his fear of being killed, and his desire to seek sanctuary in the church.
He also said that he worked in mental health and that he worked with children.
Someone, possibly the minister then asked the congregation to get up and leave, and proceed to the smaller chapel. He immediately shouted no, and out of nowhere produced a knife which he held up pointed towards his right eye with his right hand. It was very menacing looking, and was not just a little pocket knife.
source:12/2 interview
I noticed he was talking, however it didn't seem as though he was talking out to he people but rather, um, more self absorbed kind of talking. Then he put his head down on the podium and then kind of stood back up, and then he began talking more directly to people out there in, and was using some offensive language ... I just remember there were some swear words interspersed with of what he was saying.
source:?
He was using words about seeking sanctuary in the church, and that he was persecuted. I think he said something about the Government, Bush, you know, things like that and I was getting bits and pieces of it.
source:?
He pulled out a sheet of paper and began reading a statement. Ah, again it was full of , I'm seeing sanctuary, a delusional kinds of material.
source:?
He stated that if anyone left he would kill himself and then he continued with his message about needing political asylum, protection from the police, etc.
.

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