The Fight of Their Lives

Page 19 of 23

"Suspect appears to be the leader of the group that was protesting in front of the clinics," Nicoletti reported. "Suspect appears to be very determined and intense in his feelings regarding abortions and doctors who perform abortions. He appears to utilize religion as a means of justifying his feelings and actions."

Nicoletti concluded that Scott's history and behavior indicated a "risk to his targets."

Hern also had his supporters. In February, 150 people--including many of the state's most prominent Democratic politicians--signed their names to a full-page ad that decried "the climate of escalating violence against physicians...Warren, we support you and pray for your welfare."

On March 17, while Hern attended a political fundraiser, his pager began beeping. The federal marshals wanted to put him under protection again.

"They had information that some people were driving out from Maryland intending to kill me," Hern says. "They were supposedly in a car full of weapons and explosives."

They never arrived.
That summer, Hern returned to the Peruvian Amazon. It was relaxing to be just a plain old family doctor making housecalls by canoe. He felt safer here than anywhere outside his mountain home.

But Hern noticed that where once he had been kept awake at night by the sound of wild animals, now he was kept awake by noise from motorized fishing boats. And he was worried about a slight cough that Maynas had developed. However, X-rays of his friend's lungs showed nothing wrong; Hern thought it was probably just some jungle bug.

Ken Scott was in front of Hern's clinic on October 6, 1995, when Boulder detective Greg Idler tried to talk with him; Scott had just gotten out of jail on charges of disturbing the peace. Suddenly Scott started yelling, an incomprehensible ranting "in a strange tongue" as he held his Bible in the air and looked toward the sky. When Idler walked on, Scott calmed down as quickly as he had gone off.

Westword spoke with Scott a few weeks later, at his standard spot at 18th Avenue and Vine. His cohort, David Lane, was in jail for breaking into the Planned Parenthood clinic two blocks away. After his arrest, Lane had said he would shoot an abortion doctor if God asked him to. "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Neighbors who'd tried to talk with Scott had found there was no room for debate--only dogma. Conversations would quickly turn into screaming matches, or spontaneous prayers to "save this sinner," or even the occasional fistfight.

With Westword, Scott launched into a diatribe about the true meaning of the increase in erupting volcanoes, killer earthquakes and other natural disasters. God was angry about abortions, he said. "Why else are there so many hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico this year?"

Looking east at the oncoming traffic, as though he expected the Second Coming to arrive any minute from the direction of City Park, he pronounced: "The end is near."

And it was even nearer for Hern, according to Scott. "Hern has less than a year to live," he said, eleven months after he first told Hern the same thing. "That's not a threat. But the Lord has shown me that Hern has less than 365 more days."

A federal marshal and an FBI agent contacted Scott soon after; they were concerned about his comments regarding Hern. Scott denied that he intended to harm the doctor, and expressed his own concerns that "agents" of Planned Parenthood were involved in violent activities against anti-abortion protesters. The federal lawmen worked out an arrangement with Scott in which he agreed to notify the marshal in advance of any anti-abortion activities.

Apparently Scott didn't think that included all of his activities. Later that month, Aurora police investigator Roy Minter called Hern and told him Scott was trying to locate his house in rural Gilpin County. When Minter asked why he'd been looking for Hern's residence, Scott replied, "I was trying to warn him that he doesn't have much time left."

On December 10, Gilpin County undersheriff John Bayne called Hern. After finding a white cross on Hern's lawn and anti-abortion posters tacked to nearby utility poles, Bayne had found Scott less than a quarter-mile from Hern's home. Hern's heart sank at the news; for over two decades he'd done his best to keep his enemies away from his only refuge. "It was the equivalent of a death sentence," Hern says. "I had nothing left that was mine."

A week later Hern was contacted by Boulder County prosecutor Jan Rundus. "They were concerned that in light of everything that had just happened...that Scott was getting more dangerous," Hern says. "She asked me to come down to sign a document to have him evaluated for mental illness.

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Steve Jackson