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How Bad Spelling Doomed Sayoc

Authorities didn't just use fingerprints
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2018 12:00 PM CDT
How They Got Sayoc
In this undated photo released by the Broward County Sheriff's office, Cesar Sayoc is seen in a booking photo, in Miami.   (Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP)

(Newser) – Cellphone pings, DNA, and misspelled words all helped authorities to find and arrest suspected bomb-mailer Cesar Sayoc on Friday, CNN reports. Law enforcement officials say they got a big break Thursday when five of the packages were traced to a processing and distribution center in Opa-Locka, near Miami. When DNA traces and fingerprints on a package to Rep. Maxine Waters identified Sayoc, who had a criminal record, authorities used his cell number and nearby cell towers to see if his timing and location matched the mailings. Officials also scoured his social media posts, where misspelled words (like "Hilary" instead of "Hillary") matched misspellings on the packages. When authorities noticed a ping from Sayoc's cell phone, they traced the 56-year-old to an AutoZone and arrested him. For more, including Sayoc's "niche":

  • Cooperative: Sayoc was partly cooperative with authorities at first, saying the pipe bombs weren't dangerous and he didn't intend to hurt anyone. Now lawyered up, he's no longer being questioned.
  • Multi-hyphenate: Sayoc had been working as a DJ and bouncer at a Florida strip club, per CNN. He'd also been a bodybuilder and male dancer. On LinkedIn he was a self-described choreographer and booking agent at Seminole Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Fla., but Seminole leaders and Hard Rock International say there's "no evidence" of a link to Sayoc.

  • Sayoc's niche: Ohio event coordinator Tony Valentine says Sayoc was "a big muscle head" who worked as a stripper but dreamed of being a professional wrestler. "He really couldn't find his niche in life, and I guess he found it now," Valentine tells the Washington Examiner.
  • Very angry: "He was crazed, that’s the best word for him," former boss Debra Gureghian tells the Washington Post. Sayoc had worked for her as a pizza driver. "He was very angry and angry at the world, at blacks, Jews, gays," she says. "He always talked about 'if I had complete autonomy none of these gays or these blacks would survive.'"
  • Headless puppets: A bankruptcy filing in 2012 said Sayoc "lives with his mom, owns no furniture." He had apparently been living in his white van covered in stickers supporting President Trump and condemning his critics. "It was puppets with their heads cut off, mannequins with their heads cut off, Ku Klux Klan, a black person being hung, anti-gay symbols, torchings, bombings, you name it, it was all over his truck," says Gureghian.
  • Nothing wrong? His sisters and mother—now estranged from Sayoc—had told him to seek medical help over his "lack of comprehension of reality," said attorney Ronald Lowy after meeting with Sayoc's family. "He thinks there's nothing wrong with him."
  • What does it take? A political commentator says she had complained to Twitter about Sayoc's threatening tweets: "I had reported this to Twitter and they did absolutely nothing about it," Rochelle Ritchie, former press secretary for House Democrats, tells USA Today. "What's abusive behavior? Do I have to be found floating in the Everglades in order for this to be taken seriously?"
  • Charges: The five charges against Sayoc—including illegally mailing explosives and threatening to kill former presidents—could net him 48 years behind bars and "are surely just a start," writes Andrew McCarthy at the Hill. Further charges could mean "well over a century of prison exposure."

Sayoc also has a long criminal history. (Read more bomb stories.)

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