Bible-hauling motorist arrested with arsenal of weapons

Saturday, March 26, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Two sheriff's deputies checking on a motorist stopped along Interstate 70 in the predawn darkness were puzzled at first by what they found -- a driver dressed like an old-time pioneer, saying he was headed for South Dakota with Bibles and "supplies" for American Indian children.

It's only after the West Virginia man got mouthy and smelled of marijuana, according to police, did the deputies uncover an arsenal of firepower inside the sport utility vehicle, including loaded pistols and an assault rifle with a 30-round clip and a bullet in the chamber.

An 8-inch knife was in the sun visor above the 46-year-old man's head, and a loaded two-shot Colt Derringer pistol was in his pocket, authorities say. Searchers seized about 400 rounds of ammunition.

"He said it was all self-protection and that it's dangerous out west," St. Charles Sheriff's Lt. Craig McGuire said Friday, a day after the traffic stop that also reportedly uncovered an array of drugs. "It's kind of bizarre, but it's all also kind of sobering."

It's unclear whether the man is mentally ill or, when arrested, was high on drugs, McGuire said.

"Obviously, there's some really bizarre behavior; that's about the best I can say at this time," he said.

The man, John W. Hill of High View, W.Va., was freed Friday on $20,000 bond, accused in a warrant of a felony charge of possessing a loaded firearm while intoxicated. McGuire said more charges are likely.

Authorities found a duffel bag with Bibles in it, McGuire said.

The shirtless man was wearing military-style boots, cargo pants and an American Indian vest.

"I've heard him described as looking like a frontiersman or pioneer; that's what he was dressed as," McGuire said. "He said he was headed to South Dakota to take Bibles and other supplies to Indian children. The deputies said, 'Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay.'"

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