Motive remains a mystery

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Col. Glenn Kennedy, Garrison Commander at Fort Gordon, speaks to the media during a press conference at Fort Gordon Wednesday.

 

Authorities spent most of Wednesday trying to answer questions about Anthony Todd Saxon.

Why, for example, was the married Keysville, Ga., father of three driving around Fort Gordon on Tuesday dressed in an Army combat uniform, even though his military service appears to have ended with a National Guard stint in the mid-1990s?

What was he doing with several explosive devices found in a knapsack in his car when authorities stopped him Tuesday afternoon on post?

Why had he marched into the post Military Police office earlier in the day, identified himself as a master sergeant conducting a training exercise, and checked out a laser sighting device?

Why did his wife of 15 years think he was leaving the country today for a job in the Middle East?

The FBI, which is investigating the case, didn't provide answers to those questions Wednesday, citing an ongoing investigation. The agency would not even identify Saxon, 34, by name.

But Saxon, still wearing camouflage pants and a drab brown shirt, stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leon Barfield at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Augusta on Wednesday afternoon as the judge recapped the strange sequence of events that brought him there.

Stopping to turn and look back at his wife, Rhonda, as she sat crying in the back row of the courtroom, Saxon spoke only once, to say "yes, sir" to the judge, who had asked whether Saxon understood he had the right to remain silent.

Saxon is charged with impersonating an officer and theft of government property, court records show. A detention hearing was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Rhonda Saxon said in a phone interview that she was stunned by the arrest. She arrived home Tuesday to find police officers, FBI and the bomb squad removing items. She said they removed all her sons' guns and several grenades and bombs her husband made to look like the real thing.

"I don't understand," Rhonda Saxon said. "I was under the impression he was leaving for Iraq Thursday."

She and her husband moved from Florida to Keysville in December.

Rhonda Saxon said she believed they moved to the area because her husband had a job at Fort Gordon. Buz Yarnell, a spokesman for Fort Gordon, said he did not know whether Saxon had worked as a civilian on post and referred questions to the fort's human resources department. A call to the department was not answered Wednesday.

Rhonda Saxon said many things aren't adding up. She said she had heard voicemail messages from officials at Fort Gordon giving her husband directions about when and where he should come to work at the fort.

She said her husband has always been infatuated with the military.

"I just don't understand how this could have been a lie," Rhonda Saxon said.

On the quiet Keysville street where Saxon and his family have lived since their move, neighbors said most people kept to themselves. Few seemed surprised to learn about the arrest.

A couple, who would not give their names, said the only time they'd met Saxon was when he showed up at their door -- dressed in an Army uniform -- to ask whether they had called the police on him.

About a month ago, police came to the neighborhood after receiving a report of gunshots in the area, the couple said.

Saxon told them he was shooting targets in his backyard in preparation for an overseas deployment and that he was stationed at Fort Gordon.

In an affidavit filed in federal court Wednesday, Saxon told authorities that he served in the Army National Guard for two years in the 1990s before he was released because of health reasons. He has never served in the Army, it said.

Staff Writer Sandy Hodson contributed to this report.

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