Van-dwelling mail bomb suspect wanted to return to ‘Hitler days’

Former manager at pizza store says Cesar Sayoc would talk about eradicating Jews, subject customers to political rants; Twitter feed shows obsession with Soros, conspiracy theories

This November 1, 2017, photo shows a van with windows covered with an assortment of stickers in Well, Florida, that apparently was owned by Cesar Sayoc. (Courtesy Lesley Abravanel via AP)
This November 1, 2017, photo shows a van with windows covered with an assortment of stickers in Well, Florida, that apparently was owned by Cesar Sayoc. (Courtesy Lesley Abravanel via AP)

The suspect behind a campaign of mail bombs sent to critics of US President Donald Trump pined to return to “the Hitler days,” and dreamed of eradicating Jews, blacks, gays and others, according to his former manager.

Cesar Sayoc, 56, was arrested Friday near Fort Lauderdale and is charged federally with mailing at least 13 mail bombs to prominent Democrats and other frequent targets of conservative ire, including former president Barack Obama, former vice president Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and the cable network CNN. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday.

Working as a pizza driver, Sayoc would often express hatred for minorities, Jews and gays, his manager said. He drove a van plastered with stickers supporting President Donald Trump, criticizing media outlets and showing rifle crosshairs over liberals like Clinton and filmmaker Michael Moore.

“He talked about being an American Indian, but said he wanted to go back to the Hitler days,” the former manager, Debra Gureghian, said. “He loved that regime, he loved that white supremacy. He wanted to be a foot soldier, and would say that if we had that kind of mentality today, everybody would toe the line, everybody would fall into place.”

Gureghian said she continued to employ Sayoc at New River Pizza in Fort Lauderdale because he was honest, dependable and never got into fights.

Debra Gureghian, manager at New River Pizza, and former co-worker of Cesar Sayoc, poses for a portrait on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP/Brynn Anderson)

She also said she could not fire him because she did not own the business.

“I was an abomination, I was God’s misfit… I was a mistake,” Gureghian, who is lesbian, said of her former employee, who quit his job earlier this year. Sayoc thought she “should burn in hell with Ellen DeGeneres and Rachel Maddow… and President Obama and Hillary Clinton.”

She told the Huffington Post that she had a conversation with him in which he spoke about wanting to “eradicate the Jews,” as well as blacks, gays and liberals.

In this handout provided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Cesar Sayoc poses for an 2002 mugshot photo, in Miami, Florida. (Broward County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images/AFP)

Until he quit earlier this year, he regularly subjected coworkers to fiery political rants, Gureghian said, calling his views “pure hatred.”

The said his van was plastered with cutout pictures and stickers from hate groups and highlighting conspiracy theories, including swastikas and Ku Klux Klan insignia.

Online as well, he spouted conspiracy theories, including many of an anti-Semitic nature.

His Twitter feeds included references to bogus allegations that passenger aircraft were spraying the atmosphere with brain-altering poisons and that Clinton indulged in child sacrifice.

One particularly off-the-wall story claimed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was created in a Soviet experiment to resurrect Hitler using a secret stash of the Nazi dictator’s sperm.

The feeds also featured gruesome photos of pythons choking on oversize prey, headless goats oozing blood and a video of a giant alligator seen waddling across a Florida golf course. Sayoc seemed fixated on people who’d gone missing in the Everglades, posting often about reports that humans had been swallowed by snakes or crocodiles along with oblique threats to progressives that they would meet a similar fate. A frequent target for his rage were the high school shooting survivors from Parkland, Florida, some of whom became targets of right-wing hate when they began lobbying for gun control earlier this year.

Sayoc was also obsessed with George Soros, the Jewish investor who has long served as a boogeyman for neo-Nazis and anti-Semites around the world and has, in the past couple of years, served as a Republican punching bag too. At one point, Sayoc painted the 88-year-old as a literal child-eating fiend.

The entrance to a house owned by philanthropist George Soros is seen in Katonah, New York, a suburb of New York City, on October 23, 2018. (AP/Seth Wenig)

In more than 40 different posts, he accused him of paying Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg to help fake the massacre.

Gureghian said Sayoc used his van for deliveries and one rainy night he offered her a ride home.

“The first thing I did was kind of look to make sure — God forbid — if something happened, can I open that door to get out and how do I tuck and roll?” she said.

Sayoc lived in the van and Gureghian said it was a mess. There were empty containers from fast-food restaurants, men’s fitness supplements and alcoholic beverages. Dirty clothes were everywhere.

And, ominously, there were dolls with their heads cut off.

“He told me he was fixing them for his two nieces,” Gureghian said.

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