CONCORD, NH – The Amherst man who allegedly threatened members of Congress and then flew to Brazil after he was contacted by police is staying in jail for the time being.
United States Federal Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone ordered that Ryder Winegar, 33, stay in jail while she decides if he can be safely released. Johnstone heard from Assistant United States Attorney Charles Rombeau during Thursday’s detention hearing as the prosecutor expressed concerns over Winegar’s truthfulness.
“It’s a pattern of inconsistent information,” Rombeau said.
Winegar called six members of Congress and made explicit violent threats to kill them for not supporting President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the election, according to court records. Winegar reportedly left his full name and phone number on some of the voicemails, and he disclosed that he is a veteran, the records show.
“Hey, [Congress Member 1]. Uh, this is Ryder Winegar at 603-XXX-XXX. Uh, you better support Donald Trump as your president. There has been massive fraud in this country. And if you don’t support it, we’re going to drag you out and we’re going to hang you by your neck to die. Good luck,” Winegar is recorded on one voicemail.
Many of the threats contain homophobic, anti-Semitic and racist slurs.
The calls took place on Dec. 16 and 17, and Capitol Police officers approached Winegar at his 35 Juniper Driver home on Dec. 20.
“Not interested in talking to you, get off my property,” reportedly told the officers.
On Dec. 21, Winegar was flying to Brazil, Rombeau said. Brazil does not have an extradition agreement with the United States. Winegar’s attorney, Charles Keefe, said his client agreed to return to the United States after learning about an arrest warrant, and that shows he won’t try and flee the charges.
“He’s from here, he grew up here, he went to college here,” Keefe said.
According to Rombeau, Winegar told investigators after his arrest on Jan. 11 at Logan Airport in Boston that he went to Brazil because he had recently come into some money and was planning to buy property in Brazil. Rombeau said that a defense disclosure this week paints a different picture.
“Now we’re told last night by (Keefe) that the family is living paycheck to paycheck,” Rombeau said.
Keefe said his client was not being untruthful about the money. Winegar is married and the couple have two small children. Keefe said Winegar is a stay at home dad who manages the rental properties they own in Manchester.
The family earns money off rental properties, but not much after expenses and Winegar and his wife have substantial credit card debt, Keefe said. The family was in the process of selling their Amherst home and thought they had a buyer when Winegar went to Brazil to scout property, he said. That deal subsequently fell through, he said.
Rombeau also said Winegar did not tell police the truth about the weapons in his home. Winegar initially told investigators that he had one 9 mm pistol and ammunition in the house, but investigators found two rifles, a shotgun, and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition. There was also a tactical vest and several rifle magazine found
Keefe said his client was telling the truth, as only the pistol was kept in the house, while the rest of the weapons and ammunition were stored on the property.
Additionally, Rombeau said that Winegar told federal officials that he had never been diagnosed or treated with a mental illness, but a police officer reported to prosecutors that Winegar had told him he had been in treatment for PTSD. Keefe countered that Winegar was never formally diagnosed and had received one treatment session several years ago.
Johnstone said she will issue an order soon on whether or not to continue holding Winegar.
Rombeau said Winegar left his wife and children back in the United States, and his wife refused to tell investigators when he was set to return from Brazil.