Courts & Crime

Hunt for accomplices continuing in murder of George Tiller

KANSAS CITY — Two former roommates of the man who killed Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller say they have testified before a federal grand jury investigating whether Scott Roeder acted alone.

Tiller was shot to death in the foyer of his Wichita church while serving as an usher on May 31, 2009. Roeder, of Kansas City, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced in April to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years.

After Tiller’s death, the Department of Justice announced that it was looking into whether anyone else played a role.

Tim Parks, a friend and former roommate of Roeder, said he appeared last week before a grand jury in Kansas City.

“Based on the questions they asked, they are looking into whether others were involved,” Parks said. “It appeared to me that they are trying to find or fabricate a conspiracy.”

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment Friday, and an FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.

Parks said he and six others appeared before the grand jury last week. All of them, he said, had been part of a Bible study group that Roeder attended, and several were former roommates of Roeder.

One other study group member confirmed he appeared, and the others could not be reached Friday.

The grand jury hearing apparently focused not on Roeder’s friends in the anti-abortion movement, but on the Bible study group.

The group met in one another’s homes on Saturdays for potluck dinners and Scripture study sessions. Those attending the study group described themselves as Messianic Jews who, unlike mainstream Jews, believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

Parks and another member Friday told The Kansas City Star that they were recently visited by FBI and Justice Department investigators, then received subpoenas for the grand jury.

Parks said the federal investigators asked him numerous questions about Roeder’s associates.

“They said something like, ‘Scott doesn’t seem like a lone gunman. He’s not a doer, he’s a follower.’ ”

Parks said he believed Roeder acted alone.

Another of Roeder’s former roommates, who lived with him at the time of Tiller’s murder, said he also appeared before the grand jury.

“They’re trying to see if there is any conspiracy and they’re interviewing everyone who had been to the Bible study,” said the man, who did not want his name revealed.

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