Two days before police say the son of a North Carolina judge threatened to damage a Cary synagogue, he told FBI agents that he did not like the Jewish faith and that “he belongs to a group of like-minded individuals who live in the area,” court documents show.
William Josephus Warden, 20, is accused of threatening Congregation Sha’arei Shalom on the night of Nov. 3. Cary police charged him the next day with one count of ethnic intimidation, a misdemeanor.
Warden came to the attention of Cary police in mid-October after anti-Semitic fliers were distributed on two occasions. The first batch of fliers featured a swastika and the words “Aryan Youth,” recently released court documents show. The fliers included a link to a SoundCloud channel that apparently had a photo of Warden.
A Cary police detective who serves on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arranged an interview with Warden through his family. Warden’s mother is N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman, who has said her son has long-standing mental-health issues.
The detective and an FBI agent met with Warden at a Starbucks in Cary on Nov. 1 but did not charge him with a crime, records show. Warden “appeared both sincere and unusually candid,” saying he distributed the fliers and owned the account on SoundCloud, an audio distribution platform.
“Further, he stated emphatically that he strongly subscribes to the anti-Semitic ideology and went on to say he believes Jews are running the country on the backs of the working class white male,” court records say.
Warden told the FBI he belonged to a local group called the Traditionalist Youth Network that communicates through Facebook and Gab, a social media network that has been used by some on the far right.
In a request for a search warrant the day of Warden’s arrest, Cary police officer J.A. Young said Gab’s notoriety grew after 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. The accused shooter, Robert Bowers, “frequently engaged in anti-Semitic hate speech” on Gab.
“Warden appeared to have absolutely no concern for the loss of life and stated that he suspected Robert Bowers was ‘out of options,’” Young wrote.
Warden told the FBI that although he does not support violence, he would not stand in the way of others who commit violence.
“Over the course of the interview, Warden repeatedly mentioned a clear hatred for Jews and reaffirmed his belief that they should be eliminated,” records show.
Police say it was about 10:10 p.m. on Nov. 3 when Warden arrived at the Congregation Sha’arei Shalom Synagogue at 700 Old Apex Road in Cary. Warden reportedly rang the doorbell and paced back and forth. His activities were monitored by a doorbell service that activated a live video and audio exchange.
Warden was wearing combat-style boots and rolled-up denim pants, according to investigators.
A woman answered the doorbell ring and asked, “Can I help you?”
Investigators say Warden appeared agitated and laughed twice before he said, “Get out of the government, that’s how you can help me. ... Get out of Cary. ... And get out of our country.”
Warden then told the woman to get ready for Nov. 5, records show.
“I have learned that specific dates of particular incidents are commonly of extreme importance among extremist ideologues,” Young wrote in the search warrant application. “I have a well-founded concern that Warden, either alone or with other unidentified individuals, might be intending to conduct an act of violence against a protected class of individuals.”
Investigators also learned that on Oct. 26, Warden had erected and burned a cross in Bond Park off of High House Road in Cary. He also faces a misdemeanor charge under a state law 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.”
Warden’s family issued a statement shortly after his arrest.
“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.
“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.”
Warden remains at the Wake County jail under a $75,000 bail.