Randy Weaver is a former U.S. Army combat engineer who moved to the remote mountaintop Ruby Ridge to live with his family. Suspected by the FBI to be part of the white supremacist movement, he was under surveillance by the FBI for years before August 21, 1992, when federal agents went to the Weaver property and engaged in a deadly confrontation with Weaver's family that left his son and wife dead.
Born Randall Claude Weaver on January 3, 1948, in Villisca, Iowa, Randy Weaver was one of four children born to Clarence and Wilma Weaver, and their only boy. He grew up in deeply religious household, and at the age of 11 he formally accepted Jesus into his life. After graduating high school 1966, Weaver attended Iowa Central Community College, where he met his future wife, Vicki Jordison, who'd also grown up with strict religious views.
Weaver's time at college was cut short in 1968, when he dropped out of school and joined the U.S. Army. In military life Weaver excelled, becoming a Green Beret and serving three years in the armed forces. In late 1971, Weaver left the Army, returned to Iowa and married Vicki.
Together, the Weavers led a solid middle-class life in Cedar Falls, Iowa. In March 1976 the couple had their first child, Sara. A little more than two years later they welcomed a son, Samuel.
But as the years passed and their religious views deepened, so did their paranoia about the government and religious institutions. Randy started collecting firearms and, with his wife Vicki, made plans to move to a remote place that could serve as a more secluded home.
In early 1984 the Weavers, now with a third child, Rachel, in tow, realized their dream. On a piece of land that overlooked a run of water in Idaho called Ruby Creek, the Weavers moved into a cabin that Randy and Vicki built themselves. They were isolated, with no running water or electricity, yet it was exactly how the Weavers wanted it.
The setting, though, seemed to only further the Weavers' extreme views on government and race relations. In the late 1980s, Randy Weaver started catching the attention of federal authorities, who saw him as a possible link to members of the Aryan Nation. In 1989, federal agents working undercover purchased two sawed-off shotguns from Weaver, resulting in his arrest. Agents then approached Weaver with the option of becoming an informant for the Aryan Nation, but Randy refused to cooperate. Instead, he was indicted on two felony counts of making and storing illegal weapons.
Death of U.S. Marshal Degan
Weaver was soon released, but he then failed to appear in court for his February 1991 trial (his parole officer mistakenly informed Weaver that the trial was to be held in March). Over the next 18 months, U.S. marshals kept a careful watch on Weaver and his dealings. Finally, on August 21, 1992, Weaver's 14-year-old son, Samuel, and a close family friend, Kevin Harris, became engaged in a gun battle with federal marshals. Samuel was killed in the battle, as was U.S. marshal William Degan.
Trial and Subsequent Acquittal
The following day, hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement agents surrounded Weaver's home. The ensuing confrontation resulted in Vicki Weaver's death and the shootings of Kevin Harris and Randy Weaver. Harris and Weaver managed to stave off authorities in an 11-day standoff, but they were eventually forced to turn themselves over to police. The two men were arrested and tried for the murder of William Degan, but when the trial revealed what appeared to be an ATF entrapment plan and the FBI's botched attack on the household, the two men were acquitted. In 1995, the government paid Randy Weaver and his family $3.1 million in damages.
In recent years, Weaver has worked to put his life back together. Following the trial he returned to Iowa, eventually remarried, and settled down in the city of Jefferson, Arkansas. He also continues to be a vocal political activist; in 2007 he traveled to New Hampshire to show his support for a couple that refused to pay their federal taxes.
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