The 20-year-old son of a N.C. Court of Appeals judge threatened to damage a synagogue Saturday night and burned a cross in a town park last month, according to Cary police.
William Josephus Warden of Cary was arrested Sunday night at the apartment complex where he lives on Preston Grove Avenue. He is the son of N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman, who said in a statement that the arrest can be attributed to long-standing mental illness for which her son has sought treatment.
“Our observations and our communications with law enforcement lead us to believe that our son has been exploited by people whose agenda is completely opposed to the inclusive values we espouse and live,” said the statement from Elliot Abrams, a Raleigh attorney who represents the family.
Police said that on Saturday night, a man went to Congregation Sha’arei Shalom at 700 Old Apex Road and rang a doorbell.
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Capt. Randall Rhyne, head of criminal investigations, said a woman who monitors the internet-connected doorbell and camera answered.
The man, whom police said was Warden, threatened to damage the synagogue, according to Rhyne. Police charged Warden with misdemeanor ethnic intimidation.
Rhyne said the investigation was continuing, and he declined to disclose details of the threat or say what language was used.
During the investigation, Rhyne said, police learned that on Oct. 26, Warden had erected a cross in Bond Park, off High House Road, and burned it.
“As Will’s parents, we could not be more saddened by the alleged conduct of our son on November 3rd,” the statement said. “Our family is inclusive and respectful of all people. Sadly, we, like many families, are dealing in this case with a mental illness, which we recognize and for which we have sought and continue to seek treatment. ... As deeply concerned parents, we apologize profusely to the Jewish community and to all who have been impacted. And we are treating this situation with utmost seriousness.”
The cross-burning was not reported at the time, Rhyne said. Warden was charged with a misdemeanor violation of a state statute that forbids “placing [a] burning or flaming cross on [the] property of another or on [a] public street or highway or on any public place.”
Rhyne said they suspect Warden is also responsible for recent anti-Semitic fliers that were distributed around the Weatherstone subdivision.
Warden’s Facebook page suggests he has struggled with mental illness.
In April, he wrote in a post, “Most of you already know this about me, but might as well announce it for attention since Mariah Carey did. I’m more Bipolar than a trendy weatherman who lied to get his job. I’m lovin’ it.”
An earlier Facebook post reads, “Crazy and proud.”
Warden mused publicly about religion and race on social media but veered toward anti-Semitism in the last few weeks, including updating his online biography with a quote from Robert Jay Matthews, a neo-Nazi killed in a 1984 shootout with federal authorities: “Stand up like men! and reclaim our soil.”
Inman, an appellate court judge since 2014 and a Wake County Superior Court judge before that, is not up for re-election until 2022.
A magistrate set Warden’s bail at $20,000 and ordered him not to go within 100 yards of the synagogue and not to have any contact with the woman who answered his ring.
Warden remained in custody Monday pending a court appearance.