Michael Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and Sister Megan Rice all knew they could eventually spend time in prison for breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. But on that dark July night in 2012, they weren’t even sure if they would make it to dawn. Breaking into a high-security facility like Y-12 was considered a suicide mission.
They did live through the night and managed to make it all the way to a nuclear materials storage building deep inside the complex, where they hung banners, beat hammers, splashed blood and spray-painted peace messages on the exterior wall. Within an hour of dawn, they were arrested.
The story of the brazen break-in made international headlines, amplified by the fact that Rice was a Roman Catholic nun, 82 years old at the time.
Now 84, Rice will spend most of the next three years of her life in prison. Tuesday, a federal judge in Knoxville gave her a sentence of 35 months, the result of her conviction on sabotage charges. Boertje-Obed, 58 and Walli, 65 both received 62-month sentences. All three were also ordered to pay $53,000 in restitution.
In a 2013 interview with WUOT News, Rice was nonchalant about the idea that she could die in prison. “It’s six of one and half-dozen of the other, whether we go to jail, whether we stay out,” she said. “Either way is fine.”