The Order

Robert Jay Mathews was born in Marfa, Texas and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He was the son of a retired U.S. Air Force officer. He developed an interest in conservative politics at a young age. After dropping out of high school in his senior year, he formed the Sons of Liberty, an anti-communist militia dominated by survivalists and Mormons. At their peak, Sons of Liberty had only 25 members. 

In 1973, he was arrested by IRS agents for submitting false information on his W-4 Form by claiming 10 dependents. He was sentenced to six months probation and told to pay his taxes. When his probation ended in July 1974, he moved to Metaline Falls, Washington, a town of 238 people in the northeast corner of the state. He purchased 60 acres of property and called it, Mathews Acres. He worked as an electrician for two different local companies. During this time period, he became more interested in extreme right-wing politics.

Robert Jay Mathews
In 1980, Mathews joined the National Alliance, a white-supremacist group founded by William Luther Pierce, a former Oregon State University professor and officer in the American Nazi Party. The National Alliance published two books. Which Way Western Man? was about a plot by the Jews to destroy the white race and, The Turner Diaries was about a violent takeover of America by white supremacists who then form an elite underground called, The Order. The Order then takes control of the whole world, eradicating all Jews and non-whites. Two years later, Mathews began attending services at the Church of Jesus Christ Christian at the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. While at a National Alliance convention in Arlington, Virginia, he became reaquainted with Robert Allan Martinez, a former Ku Klux Klansman from Philadelphia. Their friendship would eventually prove to be Mathews's undoing.

In late September 1983, Mathews invited eight men whom he felt held beliefs similar to his own, to his property in Metaline Falls. The group Mathews founded that night became known as The Order. The Turner Diaries became their bible. Their fundamental aim was violent overthrow of the United States government, which they believed was controlled by a Jewish cabal. On October 28, 1983, The Order pulled their first armed robbery at a Spokane video store. The job netted only $369. Mathews decided small robberies weren't worth the time and effort, and in November organized a trip to Seattle with the intention of robbing banks and armored cars. 
18840 8th Ave NW, Shoreline
On December 18, 1983, Mathews robbed a Citybank (now Whidbey Bank) north of the city in Shoreline. He escaped with $25,952, but a large portion of the loot was ruined by an exploding dye pack. Around this time, The Order member Bruce Pierce was released on bond after sitting in jail for two weeks after passing couterfeit bills.

In mid-March 1984, Mathews, along with three other members, returned to Shoreline to case the Fred Meyer store at 18325 Aurora Avenue North. On Friday, March 16, a Continental Armored Transport truck pulled up to the store's main entrance. They robbed the guard just as he was leaving with six large money bags and six coin boxes on a handcart. This time, the take was $43,345.

On April 3rd, Bruce Pierce appeared in U.S. District Court in Spokane where he plead guilty to passing counterfeit currency. Because he showed no remorse for his actions by refusing to reveal the source of the counterfeit bills and his ties to the Aryan Nations, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison. The judge gave Pierce three weeks to settle his affairs, ordering him to report to the U.S. Marshal Service before noon on April 24th. Pierce told the court he would be staying with Robert Mathews in Metaline Falls. When he failed to show up at the U.S. Marshal's office in Spokane, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest on April 26th. Pierce, now a federal fugitive, had been busy elsewhere and had no intention of serving the prison sentence.

Bruce Pierce
On April 19th, The Order, including a new recruit, returned to Seattle to carry out another armored car robbery. Their plan was to hijack another truck as it was leaving Northgate Mall. In order to create a diversion for the robbery, Mathews told member Gary Yarborough to make a small time bomb. On Sunday afternoon, April 22nd, Yarborough entered the Embassy, a porn theater at 216 Union Street in downtown Seattle. (It's now the Triple Door Theater) He slipped the bomb under some vacant seats and left. Damage was minimal and nobody was seriously injured. Mathews planned to phone the Embassy Theater with another bomb threat just before the armed robbery at the mall, hoping to divert the attention of the police.

The heist took place on Monday afternoon, April 23rd. The gang hit another
Continental truck parked outside of the Bon Marche. As the guard exited the store, Bruce Pierce held a gun to his head. They made off with $536,000. However, more than half of it was in checks. Mathews blew some of the money on a shopping spree in Missoula, Montana, where he bought several firearms, ammunition, miscellaneous weapons, and a state-of-the-art computer system to give The Order access to the Internet.

The Bon Marche at Northgate Mall is now Macy's

Over the next several months, The Order would bomb a Synagogue in Boise, murder a member of the Aryan Nations, and execute a Jewish talk-radio host in Denver. On Thursday, July 19th, Mathews and six members of The Order stopped a Brink's armored truck on Highway 101 in Eureka, California, robbing the guards of more than $3.6 million. The gang escaped and drove to Reno where they split up into several cars and then drove north to Boise to divide the money. During the robbery, Mathews lost a 9mm pistol. Using information obtained from the serial numbers on it, the FBI began zeroing in on the members of The Order. By August, they had compiled a list of many of its members and had identified Robert Mathews as the leader. 

When word got to The Order that the FBI was poking around, most of the gang left northern Idaho. They split into two groups: Mathews and his posse preferred cheap motels and safe houses, while Pierce's tribe chose a mobile lifestyle, moving from town to town in campers and travel trailers. Gary Yarborough moved his belongings from Sandpoint to a remote mountain cabin near Samuels, Idaho, as an FBI airplane watched. 

On Monday, October 1st, the first day of his scheduled trial in Philadelphia, Mathew's old friend, Thomas Martinez decided to become an FBI informant. His attorney told him that the FBI had him linked to The Order and he would most likely be named as a co-conspirator in any future indictments. To protect himself and his family, Martinez gave the authorities detailed information about The Order and his knowledge of their crimes. 

On Monday, December 3rd, the FBI's Seattle office received an anonymous call from a pay phone, in which the person said that Mathews and other members of The Order were hiding on Whidbey Island, Washington and were heavily armed. When the tip proved to be true, the FBI dispatched 150 agents to the island to make sure that none of the fugitives escaped.

By Friday morning, December 7th, the FBI had all three hideouts surrounded. Agents arrested four members of the gang without incident, but Mathews refused to surrender. A 35-hour standoff ensued at 3306 South Smuggler's Cove Road in the town of Greenbank. Mathews fired at the agents numerous times with a sub-machine gun. On Saturday, negotiations stalled and at 6:30pm, the FBI fired three M-79 Starburst illumination flares into the house, knowing it would likely catch on fire and end the standoff. Mathews still didn't surrender. On Sunday morning, agents found his charred remains inside the burned-out building. I find it a very strange coincidence that the bank Mathews robbed in Shoreline is now called Whidbey Bank, and he died on Whidbey Island. 

The death of Robert Jay Mathews signaled the end of The Order as a viable group. Authorities figured that Bruce Pierce would assume leadership, but most of the gang remained in hiding, scattered across the country. The FBI immediately forged ahead, hunting down and arresting every member and affiliate of The Order they could find. In late December 1984, federal prosecutors from six states met secretly in Seattle and formulated a plan to put an end to The Order's terror campaign. They decided to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), created in 1970 to combat organized crime.

Over the next four months, the Department of Justice built a massive conspiracy case against The Order, which they decided to prosecute in the Western District of Washington under assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Wilson. On Friday, April 15, 1985, the federal grand jury in Seattle returned a sweeping 20-count indictment, charging 23 members of The Order with racketeering, conspiracy, and 67 separate offenses. The FBI had 17 of the defendants already in custody, including Alan Berg's killers, Bruce Pierce and David Lane. Before the trial began, 11 defendants decided to plead guilty and several agreed to testify as government witnesses. The trial commenced on Monday, September 9th and lasted three months. 338 prosecution and defense witnesses testified and approximately 1,500 exhibits were introduced. The case went to the jury on Tuesday, December 17th. After deliberating for almost two weeks, the jury announced that all 10 defendants were guilty of racketeering and conspiracy. Six defendants were also convicted of additional federal crimes. In early February 1986, all 10 defendants were
sentenced to terms ranging from 40 to 100 years in federal prison.

I also have a story about the Goldmark family mentioned in the headline of this newspaper.