A Sonoma County jury convicted a Nevada man yesterday of
all charges stemming from a bizarre episode that he undertook
in hopes of exposing human sacrifice at the Bohemian Grove.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour yesterday
morning before finding Richard McCaslin, 37, guilty of five
felonies, including arson, burglary and brandishing a weapon
at a peace officer.
He was also found guilty of two enhancements for being
armed and wearing a bulletproof vest while carrying out those
crimes last January. They apparently were committed out of his
belief that the Bohemian Club's benign "Cremation of Care
Ceremony," performed each year at its annual encampment, is a
satanic ritual involving child abuse and human sacrifice.
McCaslin, of Carson City, Nev., faces a sentence of as long
as 12 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 14.
Prosecutors said they intend to ask for the maximum penalty.
"In his mind, however unreasonable it is, he thinks it was
the right thing to do," said Deputy District Attorney Charles
Arden. "That's why I believe he is extremely dangerous."
McCaslin's attorney, Jeff Mitchell, did not return phone
calls asking for comment.
McCaslin is still facing federal charges, including
crossing state lines with the intent to commit arson, said
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Jacobs.
During the trial, McCaslin testified he was following the
Bible when he moved from Texas to Nevada and spent more than a
year planning a commando- style assault to root out pagan
worshipers sacrificing children.
McCaslin said he was also inspired by a Texas talk show
host, Alex Jones, who says he has seen "bizarre, Luciferian
ceremonies" at the 2,700-acre grove known for its annual
two-week summer encampment which draws business and political
leaders, such as Henry Kissinger and former President George
In an interview with The Chronicle last January, McCaslin
said he was "expecting armed resistance" that Jan. 19 when he
crept into the grove, wearing a skeleton mask and blue
fatigues with "Phantom Patriot" spelled out in red letters
across his chest.
He was also armed with a sword, crossbow, machine gun, and
"I felt if physical damage was inflicted upon them and it
got enough attention, the American people would rise up," he
That night, McCaslin said, he lost his way and crawled into
a cabin to sleep.
The next morning, McCaslin found the club's giant owl
statue, but could find no enemy to confront. McCaslin then set
fire to the camp's mess hall, but sprinklers extinguished the
He was confronted by Sonoma County sheriff's deputies and
surrendered 15 minutes later.
Mitchell, McCaslin's attorney, argued that there was
insufficient evidence to show that McCaslin entered the
compound intending to commit burglary and arson.
Jurors spurned that argument, Arden said, adding that he
interviewed eight of the jurors after the verdict.
"They felt very comfortable and confident," Arden said.
"One said he was a domestic terrorist."
E-mail Kelly St. John at firstname.lastname@example.org.