Back from Iraq with Plenty of Problems

Paul Miles returned from Iraq needing help with the death in his head. He got prison.

Another funny thing happened the following month. Miles picked up an orange-and-white kitten from a guy giving away a litter in a Wal-Mart parking lot. When Miles took it home, the sucker scratched him, so Miles tied a twine noose around its neck and swung it around in a circle, expecting centrifugal force to kill it. When that didn't work, he just whipped the kitten up and down. That did it. He stuck the body in the freezer. The next day, he and Crazy Carl hung it from a flagpole outside the ROTC building.

Things weren't so funny the night of November 19, 2006. Miles and Timmons really got into it. They were arguing enough that Crazy Carl split to his girlfriend's. But around 1 a.m., amassing his powers of intelligence, Timmons went to the SFA Police station and told an officer that Miles had punched him in the face, thus putting police on a path to his own drug- and explosive-filled apartment.

Since Timmons and Miles lived off-campus, the university police notified the Nacogdoches Police Department, who dispatched an officer to talk to Miles. That's when officer Charlotte Hines saw the stuff on the floor: PVC pipes, powder, tacks, broken glass. Hines thought maybe this was more than simple assault. When she tried to talk to Miles, he just babbled. Complete nonsense. She figured it'd be a good idea to get him into Nacogdoches Memorial and see what drugs he was on. She also called for backup. Didn't know if anything inside was rigged to explode. Throughout the morning, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as the Fort Hood bomb squad, were on-site.

Miles blogged that Iraqi children were the only signs of "innocence" he saw during his tour.
Photos Courtesy Curtis Miles
Miles blogged that Iraqi children were the only signs of "innocence" he saw during his tour.
Miles and his sister went on a Christian mission to Moldova in 2006.
Photos Courtesy Curtis Miles
Miles and his sister went on a Christian mission to Moldova in 2006.

At a command center the agents set up across the street from the apartment complex, Crazy Carl was feeding ATF agents frightening information. After confessing to being involved with the Virgin Mary incident, Timmons told agents that Miles was extremely dangerous. He said Miles kept an AK-47 and a shotgun at the apartment. He said Miles also had a Tommy gun by his window. Miles had drawn a map of the viewable area outside the window and then calculated the distance to certain points on the map, so he'd know how far away he'd be shooting.

Timmons kept going: Miles said he'd be doing high school kids a favor by blowing off their heads. Miles wanted to eat a puppy. Miles hated blacks and wanted to kill a black child who lived next door to them. He also hated Catholics, which was why he wanted to blow up the Virgin Mary statue. Timmons made sure to tell the agents that he had felt just awful about going along with that. He had felt pressured. He said he confessed to a priest and had scoured eBay, looking for a replacement statue, but he couldn't find one he could afford.

He told the agents that Miles wanted to bury IEDs and a bunch of firearms behind the Veterans of Foreign Wars building and that Miles was extracting the deadly poison ricin from castor beans and threatened to use it on him. He said Miles wanted to plant a bomb in the parking lot of an auto repair shop that overcharged a friend.

Timmons never explained why, after hearing Miles talk for months about killing kids, he never went to the police. And as for Timmons's explosives? Just firecrackers, really. Homemade Black Cats. One of the agents asked Timmons about a jar found in his bedroom that had "two electrical wires and a plastic tube sticking out of the lid, and that also had two wood rods attached to the electrical wires inside the jar." Timmons said it was used for the express purpose of inflating balloons.

Meanwhile, ATF agents were collecting evidence from the apartment. This included a pound of gunpowder, PVC pipe glue and fittings, a four-inch cannon fuse, a box of cut tacks, and several broken beer bottles — material they figured was for shrapnel. Agents also found "an electronic remote detonator affixed to a residential doorbell lying on top of the kitchen refrigerator." Timmons asked the agents if he would be able to get any of the stuff back. Especially his GMC drill. He really liked that drill.

"They believed they interrupted Paul just before he was going to do harm to people," Miles's attorney, Wes Volberding, says of the U.S. Attorney's Office. "They were very concerned about Carl Timmons's reports that Paul had made threats against ­children."

Volberding, a private attorney who's in the Army Reserve and a major in the Judge Advocate General Corps, says prosecutors felt they stopped what could have been another Virginia Tech. He points out that the only thing they had to go on was Timmons.

He believes that, even if Miles suffers from bipolar disorder without post-traumatic stress disorder, Miles's combat experience was certainly a factor. As far as he and Miles's family are concerned, there are two injustices here: Training a man to fight and kill for his country, then refusing to fix him when he's broken; and casting him into a criminal justice system that is not equipped to treat the mentally ill.

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