A Bloody Shootout at Ruby Ridge


In the 1980s, the mountainous panhandle of northern Idaho became a magnet for right-wingers of all stripes.  Government-haters, minority-haters, immigrant-haters, and modern culture-haters all found refuge in the sparsely-populated ponderosa country.  In his book Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family, Jess Walter describes Idaho's northernmost county, Boundary County, as a place where "a blurring continuum of home schoolers, Christian survivalists, apocalyptic, John Birchers, Posse Comitatus members, constitutionalists, tax protesters, Identity Christians, and neo-Nazis" could find both one another and "a ridge top on which to hide out and build a life."  One family that in 1983 found its way from the heartland of Iowa to an Idaho ridge top was the Randy and Vicki Weaver family.  Before long, things just got out of hand--hopelessly and tragically out of hand.


Life in Iowa


Vicki Jordison and Randall ("Pete") Weaver began dating in earnest in 1970.  The self-reliant secretary for Sears Roebuck, raised on a farm near Coalville, and the idealistic army private met in Fort Dodge almost every night during Weaver's short leave from Fort Bragg.  Randy and Vicki married in November 1971, after Weaver received an honorable discharge, and the couple moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, where Randy intended to enroll at the University of Northern Iowa and pursue a career in law enforcement.  The job in law enforcement never happened.  But Randy landed a well-paying job at a John Deere tractor factory in Waterloo and he and Vicki settled into a several year period of happy, and quite normal, domesticity.  When their first child, Sara, was born in 1976, Vicki entered enthusiastically into motherhood.


In 1978, Vicki read a book that began what would be a long-term drift toward a Christianity-based apocalyptic view of the world.  Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth applied his interpretation of the prophesies of the Old Testament to the events of current times and concluded that we were now in "the end time."  A nuclear holocaust and Armageddon were just around the corner, but the good news was that Jesus would return to Earth.  Violence and pestilence soon would fall upon the planet, and Christians persecuted, in a terrible time called The Great Tribulation.  Then there would be The Rapture, and true believers selected by God to join him in Paradise.  Vicki and Randy began to share with friends their plan of moving to a mountain top, as far as possible from false governments, desperate people, and hunters of good Christians like themselves.  "We've been having this vision," Vicki would say.

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