By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
Deputies arrested Jordi, charging him with felony child abuse. BSO superiors then advised the deputies to release Noah to his mother's custody because "the child did not appear to be in danger of harm," according to the police report.
Daniels shakes her head, remembering the incident. That was the last day she saw the Jordis. "We don't agree with that charge," she says. "The police never asked us what happened. Stephen wouldn't abuse his child. He was a good man."
After his arrest, Jordi bonded out and fled with his family to Pensacola. Six weeks later, the Broward State Attorney's Office dropped the charge. According to a memorandum by Dan Stiffler, then an assistant state attorney in the sex crimes/child abuse unit, authorities could not locate Restrepo, the witness. Further complicating matters, Stiffler wrote, was that Jordi and his family had relocated. "We do not have an independent witness to identify the defendant, and additionally, we cannot even produce the child to bring in because the child is now in Pensacola," Stiffler wrote on January 30, 2001.
By summer 2002, the Jordis had returned to Broward County, buying a trailer in Country Lakes, a 500-lot mobile home park in Coconut Creek, and becoming active in a Baptist church near the Florida Turnpike.
Storm clouds gather from the north as the parking lot outside Lyons Creek Middle School fills with worshipers in their Sunday best. It's 6 p.m. on Father's Day, and the crowd of roughly 100 people, mostly white and seemingly middle class, is here for First Baptist at Hillsboro's evening service.
The church advocates a strict interpretation of the Bible, and its pastors refer to the conflict in the Middle East as a "holy war" against Islam. For the past two years, its leaders have been turning the public middle school's auditorium into a house of worship. The location is temporary; the congregation has financed a new church, which is under construction on Hillsboro Boulevard in Coconut Creek.
Until that's finished, Pastor Jerry Williamson, a tall, blond man with spectacles and a habit of waving his right arm, must settle for the linoleum-floored theater decorated with pictures of a lion, the school mascot. Williamson addresses his congregation in a deep, confident voice. "We are nothing but pebbles before God," he says. "Through faith, now you have made us perfect, one with God, accepted. This is a marvelous, wonderful blessing -- not just a concept but indeed a blessing. If there is one in this room that has never brought their sins to the cross, I pray tonight will be their hour."
"Amen!" the crowd chants.
It was in this school auditorium that Stephen Jordi met Stewart Welch during a Sunday service on August 17, 2003. Jordi often helped out around the church, taking care of the lawn at the office on Hillsboro Boulevard. "He hounded me," Jordi would later say of Welch in a tape-recorded telephone conversation with a friend. "I was really amazed. He was asking me stupid questions, like, 'Well, I'm thinking about moving up north [from Miami to Broward County].' I took that opportunity and said, 'OK, fine, here's my Sunday school teacher. He just moved up here and can tell you better the price of land, tax, etc.' I tried to get rid of him, but he wouldn't let me do that."
Indeed, Welch was persistent. Claiming to be an ex-cop strongly opposed to abortion and homosexuality, Welch persuaded Jordi to meet with him for lunch that afternoon at a Denny's on Hillsboro Boulevard in Deerfield Beach. The two men bonded quickly, finding common hatred of gays, abortionists, and "apostate" churches. Jordi confessed to his new friend that he was filled with more than rhetoric. He wanted to take action. "I don't have the means to kill abortion doctors, but I do have the means to bomb clinics," he said, according to a transcript submitted to the court. "Maybe that way, I can dissuade other doctors from performing abortions."
Jordi was a big talker. When this conversation occurred, according to FBI evidence, the only means Jordi had were books about explosives. Jordi told Welch his plan was to wait at least two years, then unleash his bombing spree, starting in Macon, Georgia. "I already told my wife, if I come home, you're gonna turn me in..." he said. "We're gonna spend the afternoon together, and then we're gonna call the cops. You're gonna turn me in, and I'll be gone, 'cause I'm not gonna have my wife getting in trouble. I'm not gonna have her aiding and abetting a worldwide-known terrorist, blowing up faggots and abortion clinics and whatever else."
Welch pressed his companion, inquiring about what he would need to pull off the bombings. "Lots of different ways to get it accomplished," Jordi told him. "I'm looking for the most reasonable and the most efficient and the most safe. Because if I get caught after two or three bombings -- I plan on doing this for the next 30, 40 years, or at least until I get caught... Doesn't have to be a bomb either. Like I said, ah, park your car in front of [the abortion clinic]. And, ah, you know... just put down, you know, 'Bombs for Babies' on the outside of the car, and they're gonna come in there with a magnifying glass and [look] under every corner of that car."