Woman charged in abortion clinic arson

By Sofia Saric Casper Star-Tribune Via Wyoming News Exchange
Posted 3/23/23

Lorna Green, 22, was formally charged with arson of a facility engaged in interstate commerce. She was booked into Natrona County Detention Center on Tuesday afternoon, jail records show. She was arrested the same day.

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Woman charged in abortion clinic arson


CASPER — Federal authorities have charged a woman with setting fire to a Casper abortion clinic while it was under construction 10 months ago. 

Lorna Green, 22, was formally charged with arson of a facility engaged in interstate commerce. She was booked into Natrona County Detention Center on Tuesday afternoon, jail records show. She was arrested the same day. 

Green spoke with authorities on Tuesday after they searched her family home in Casper. She told investigators that she was in fact the suspect from the videos and photos, the federal complaint filed in her case states. 

Green knew the clinic was going to offer abortions. 

“Green stated she did not like abortion and was having nightmares which she attributed to her anxiety about the abortion clinic, so she decided to burn the building,” the complaint says. 

Green was living at the time in Laramie, where she bought gas cans and aluminum cans at the local Walmart, the federal complaint states. She drove directly from Laramie to the abortion clinic on the night of May 24 with the intention of setting fire to the building, she told investigators. 

She is set to make her initial court appearance on Thursday morning in Cheyenne before United States Magistrate Judge Kelly H. Rankin, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming announced on Wednesday night. 

She faces a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine, if convicted. 

The charges come one day after the FBI and other law enforcement agencies searched a home near the corner of East 16th and Newport streets on Tuesday morning. 

Casper investigations Sgt. Seth Wheeler, who was at the scene, confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was there. There were several unmarked cars parked out front of the home as plainclothes officers searched the home just after 10:30 a.m. A woman wearing blue medical gloves was seen leaving the house. 

The arrest comes just weeks after authorities raised the reward in the case to $15,000 and released enhanced surveillance images of the suspect taken from inside the clinic in an attempt to find her. 

While videos and photos of the suspect have been public since June, it took almost a year before an arrest took place. 

Shortly after the increased reward was offered, several tipsters identified a potential suspect. Four of the 12 identified Green as the suspect, which ultimately led to the filing of charges against Green, the U.S. Attorney’s office statement said. 

A detective conducted a comparative analysis of Green with the security footage. 

“The similarities are readily apparent, including: the wide widow’s peak with deep hair recession, and the hair can be seen to be combed or lie in the same direction; the suspect’s eyes are relatively wide-set, and this appears consistent also for Green; both Green and the suspect have similarly dome-shaped foreheads,” the official complaint says. 

At the time of the May 25 blaze, abortion was still legal in Wyoming. The clinic was set to open later that summer and would have become the only facility in central Wyoming to provide abortions. 

It still has not opened. It was initially kept a secret from the contractors and the public that the building was going to be used as an abortion clinic, the official criminal complaint shows. 

But information leaked on social media and protests began out front of the facility with over a hundred people. 

Regardless of people’s personal opinions about the clinic and abortion services, the arsonist put people in direct danger, Casper Lt. Jeff Bullard said in a statement earlier this month. Those who lived in a neighboring apartment complex, only feet away from the clinic, were “callously placed in harm’s way.” 

Officials also indicated they believed someone in the community knew the suspect but was not coming forward. 

“We know there is someone out there with information about who committed this crime,” Bullard said. “Someone either has to recognize the person in these pictures or has firsthand knowledge of what happened that night.” 

Officers responded to a report of a business burglary at Wellspring Health Access at about 3:30 a.m. on May 25. Police noticed smoke coming from the northeast corner of the building, which sits along East Second Street, and realized it was on fire. 

Although firefighters quickly put out the blaze, the building sustained significant damage. 

The clinic was meant to be the first medical facility in Casper, and the second in Wyoming, to provide abortion services in addition to other OB/GYN care. 

Investigators say the person who set fire to the building was inside for just 15 minutes.

 Police released video footage and photographs that show a woman bringing a gas can into the clinic while dressed in a hoodie and face mask to conceal most of her head. “Through witness accounts and video surveillance, investigators identified a suspect who had gained entry by breaking a window, pouring gas in the facility, then leaving just prior to the reporting party calling in suspicious activity,” the statement said. 

Shortly after the arson, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms offered a reward for information that led to the woman’s capture. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigations Denver Division had no comment on Wednesday, spokesperson Dana M. Plumhoff said in an e-mail.