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Grand jury indicts alleged arsonist of Casper abortion provider


Grand jury indicts alleged arsonist of Casper abortion provider

May 23, 2023 | 5:31 pm ET
By Madelyn Beck/WyoFile
Wellspring Health Access in Casper is now open nearly a year after it was set on fire. This picture was taken in December 2022. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

Wellspring Health Access in Casper is now open nearly a year after it was set on fire. This picture was taken in December 2022. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

A grand jury has decided there is enough evidence to indict Lorna Green for allegedly setting fire to Wellspring Health Access, a Casper clinic offering abortions. 

The grand jury found, “On or about May 25, 2022, in the District of Wyoming, the Defendant, Lorna Roxanne Green, maliciously damaged and destroyed, and attempted to damage and destroy, by means of a fire a building located at 918 East Second Street, Casper, Natrona County, Wyoming,” according to the indictment.

The federal arson charges are tied to Wellspring’s work with other states.

The grand jury’s finding goes on to say “building, contents and property were used in and affecting interstate commerce and were used in activities affecting interstate commerce.” 

The history

The public first learned that Wellspring Health Access would offer abortions in late March 2022, prompting protests and threats, according to a statement filed in court. 

Gov. Mark Gordon had already signed a “trigger bill” that would make most abortions illegal in Wyoming if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. A May 2, leak from the high court gave early notice that justices planned to overturn the landmark case. 

On May 25, someone broke into Wellspring Health Access and lit it on fire, causing an estimated $290,000 in damage and delaying the opening until April 2 of this year. 

Images of the arsonist were captured on multiple cameras, but it took law enforcement nearly a year to arrest a suspect. The perpetrator’s use of a facemask and a limited initial release of images to the public possibly contributed to the delay. 

On March 3, the Casper Police Department announced that an anonymous resident added $10,000 to the standing $5,000 reward for anyone providing evidence leading to an arrest. Police also released a new image that wasn’t in initial online posts. Tipsters soon tied the images to Green because of distinctive features like a hairline. 

“Many tips referenced Green by name and and stated they believed her face, hairline and clothing were similar to the subject’s,” according to an agent’s sworn statement.

It’s not clear yet whether any of the rewards have been paid. 

Green confessed to police on March 21, according to a sworn statement from a Special Agent Matthew Wright with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 

“When asked if she was the person depicted at the scene [of the arson], Green stated she was,” the statement says. 

“During the interview, Green shared that she read news reports about the clinic opening. Green knew the clinic was going to offer abortion services. Green stated she did not like abortion and was having nightmares which she attributed to her anxiety about the abortion clinic, so she decided to burn the building.”

The consequences

If convicted, Green faces up to $250,000 in fines and five to 20 years in prison. Had the fire injured someone — either a first responder or by spreading to neighboring buildings — she could have faced between seven and 40 years behind bars. 

Court filings estimate a trial over this case would take between one and five days. 

What’s next?

A summons has been issued to Green for an initial appearance and arraignment on June 2 in Cheyenne before Chief Magistrate Judge Kelly H. Rankin.

That’s the same day as a hearing in Jackson to determine whether proposed intervenors — including the Secretary of State and lawmakers — will be allowed to intervene in the lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion bans. 

Wellspring Health Access is a plaintiff in that case, suing to keep abortion legal in Wyoming.

WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.