Two more members of the neo-Nazi terror organization the Base are facing charges—this time in connection for stealing a ram and sacrificing it during a psychedelic-fueled training trip.
In October 2019, the Base held a weekend of paramilitary training in the woods of north Georgia. The plan was to shoot guns, bond, and then behead a ram stolen from a nearby farm—after dropping acid. What they didn't know was that an undercover FBI agent was in attendance and in less than two years more than half of the participants would face charges for what they did to that ram.
As first reported by the Rome News Tribune, prosecutors in Floyd County Superior Court charged five members of the Base with the murder of the ram (the technical charge is livestock theft and aggravated animal cruelty). Three had previously been charged for other Base-related activity. Previously, the group’s Georgia cell—consisting of leader Luke Austin Lane, Michael Helterbrand (recently implicated in a jailhouse sex assault), and Jacob Kaderli—were charged with the ram’s killing (along with an assassination plot) and are awaiting trial while behind bars.
The group had mockingly referred to the ram as “Gar” in encrypted chats discussing that training weekend. Prosecutors described the alleged sacrifice as a “Norse-pagan ritual.”
Two men charged with the ram slaying had never been publicly tied to the Base or indicted for any of the crimes the group has been connected with. They are Brandon Ashley, known under the alias “Dima” in the encrypted chat room used by the Base, and a Texan named Duncan Trimmel, who went by “Apochryphon.” VICE has viewed the indictments and warrants issued for both Trimmel and Ashley.
Gar and the performance of his death was immensely popular among members of the Base, who frequently referenced it within their internal chats and made memes about it. In fact, Lane even cleaned Gar’s skull and put it in among a shrine of his occult and neo-Nazi memorabilia.
While the group spoke of the killing fondly, some members indicated they had a difficult time killing and butchering the animal. Prosecutors allege the group initially tried to kill the animal with a knife but failed and then shot it. After shooting and killing the creature, the group beheaded it and posed for photos.
“I think [the Georgia] meet proved none of us are mentally stable in the eyes of normies,” Lane wrote after the meetup and alleged sacrifice, according to chat logs viewed by VICE World News. “[Members] slurping Gar blood n shit.”
“I can still feel Gar’s essence coursing through me,” replied Brian Lemley, who would also later be arrested and charged for his activities in the group.
The group even spoke about the alleged theft of the ram within the internal chat.
“Gar was stolen away from his abusive Mexican owner... He’s with Odin and the Wild Hunt now,” wrote Ashley after being asked where the ram came from. “Plus playing with his decapitated head was fun.”
The training took place on the 100-acre property owned by Lane’s father; the ram was allegedly stolen from a nearby farm.
Lemley, Patrik Mathews, and William Garfield Bilbrough IV, who comprised the Maryland cell of terror group, were also indicted for the ram sacrifice. It was previously reported that all three were in attendance at the paramilitary camp, but they hadn’t been charged with killing the ram.
At the time, Mathews, a former Canadian soldier, had just entered the U.S. illegally and was on the run from authorities. Lemley and Bilbrough ferried him into the country, harbored him for months, and were then charged with aiding and abetting him. All three were indicted in Maryland on terrorism-related charges stemming from plans to shoot up a guns rights rally in Virginia. (Bilbrough pleaded guilty and is already serving a five-year prison sentence, while the remaining two have yet to go on trial.)
Under his pseudonym, Ashley had publicly denounced the group in a stunning memoir that he released to other neo-Nazis on the encrypted chat app Telegram, meant to dissuade others from going down the same path he had. In it, Ashley vividly paints the scene of the ram sacrifice.
“I attended a meet up in Rome, Georgia on Halloween night,” he wrote. “Some of us also took LSD to celebrate the holiday and the event, which had taken place.”
Later in the piece he writes of being disillusioned with the turn towards terrorism the group was taking, citing it as a reason he left the Base shortly after the “meet-up” in Georgia.
Ashley, who in the memoir admits to watching one of the members steal the ram from the farm by the cover of night, wrote he holds no grudges towards the FBI undercover agent. In August 2019, the undercover, using the backstory of being an aging racist ex-biker, joined the Base and its Georgia cell, logging all of its crimes for authorities.
“I also still hold no animosity towards the undercover FBI agent who infiltrated my cell of the Base,” wrote Ashley. “I find it rather courageous he spent his time infiltrating an armed neo-Nazi terrorist cell in the small foothills of the Appalachian mountains in western Georgia.”
The Base, founded and led by a former analyst at the Department of Homeland Security who lives in Russia, is considered one of the most violent American domestic terror groups in decades and was recently designated a terrorist organization by the Canadian government. Along with the latest two new indictments, 11 members of the Base in total have been charged with crimes in the U.S. since 2019.
With files from Zachary Kamel