Saxon's troubled past emerges

Judge says suspect was on 'crime spree'
Anthony Saxon was arrested this month in the theft of military equipment.

The ex-Guardsman arrested at Fort Gordon in the theft of military equipment earlier this month was unemployed, taking painkillers and apparently assembling high-quality sniper rifle components through a "crime spree" in the Augusta area, a court document states.

In a detention order filed in U.S. District Court this week, Magistrate Judge Leon Barfield outlines a disturbing list of actions that led to Anthony Saxon's arrest with a stolen laser site, land mine and grenades at Fort Gordon on June 15.

Shortly after he moved his wife and three children to live in his brother's house in Keysville, Ga., in December, Saxon began assembling -- through "fraud, deception and theft" -- an M4 tactical 5.56-caliber rifle equipped with both an infrared laser and night-vision device.

Authorities found Saxon was in possession of a Kevlar helmet, outfitted with a mount for night-vision equipment, a silencer compatible with his rifle, nearly 1,400 rounds of ammunition for the gun and 17 magazines, eight of which also were loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition. He also had 12 boxes of Army "meals ready to eat," or MREs. Each box contained 12 meals, a total of 144.

Saxon had traveled to Fort Gordon on at least 10 previous occasions by the time he walked into the post's military police office June 15 and signed out a scope, the order said. Dressed as an Army master sergeant with the 82nd Airborne Division, Saxon's outfit was exactly to military specifications, except for one personal addition: a sniper badge that was not standard Army issue.

He had used this outfit before, authorities contend, to steal a night-vision device from the post. The silencer on his rifle was reported stolen from Blankenship Custom Firearms near Augusta. Saxon was identified by the owner, who recalled him visiting the store near the end of last year.

According to the order, Saxon is no stranger to crime. He was convicted of grand theft in Seminole County, Fla., on May 9, 1996, in a case that involved the same weapon found in his bedroom.

His fascination with the military began at an early age, family members have testified. Both of his older brothers served combat missions in Operation Desert Storm and the current Iraq conflict, according to the order. That fed his obsession, family members said.

Saxon joined the Army National Guard out of high school in 1993, but his career was cut short when he was discharged for an irregular heartbeat and possible heart attacks two years later.

After that, he suffered a series of personal setbacks.

He lost his job with a private home security business in Florida in 2008 because of a "reduction in labor force," and he was seriously injured in a car crash later that year. Since then, he has been taking large doses of the painkiller oxycodone.

Though his family believed he worked at Fort Gordon, Saxon had been unemployed for years. He moved to the Burke County area from Deltona, Fla., at the suggestion of his father, who hoped he would find work.

His family also believed he was deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan on June 17. Saxon's mother and father traveled from Florida to visit him before he was supposed to be leaving.

In the order, Barfield describes the family as supportive but disturbed by Saxon's activities since he moved to Keysville. However, he calls their belief of Saxon's military service "puzzling at best," because of Saxon's well-known health issues and because he was previously discharged from the military.

"The defendant hardly seems to be a candidate for such arduous duty overseas," he writes.

Still a mystery is just what Saxon planned to do once he "deployed." In the order, Barfield said that with no job or earned income, Saxon couldn't have maintained his charade forever. He said the evidence leads to one conclusion: "The defendant clearly has mental issues that need to be addressed."

A psychological exam is pending, and until then Saxon will be held by authorities because he is both a flight risk and danger to the community, according to the order.