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The Oregon Brothers Accused of Storming the U.S. Capitol Spent Much of Their Lives as the Children of Baptist Missionaries

Much of what we know about them comes from charging documents—and also from the blog posts and videos the family shared about their mission to Patagonia.

In less than two years, Matthew and Jonathanpeter Klein's identities evolved from being sons of Baptist missionaries to criminal defendants facing years in federal prison for allegedly conspiring to defraud the United States in a failed insurrection.

On March 23, federal agents arrested Matthew, 24, in Sherwood and Jonathanpeter, 21, in Heppner. They became the first Oregon residents charged in connection with the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Four days earlier, a grand jury handed down an indictment accusing both brothers of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, felony destruction of federal property and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. Much of what we know about them comes from charging documents—and also from the blog posts and videos the family shared about their mission to Patagonia.

Long before the brothers allegedly proceeded past law enforcement officers into the Capitol Building's Crypt and ascended into the Rotunda (Jonathanpeter) and helped fellow rioters climb a wall onto the Capitol Building's Upper West Terrace (Matthew), they had spent much of their lives as outsiders, spreading the Gospel at the southern edge of the world.

Their upbringing: Around 2008, Jeffrey and Nanci Klein moved from Pendleton to Aluminé, Argentina, their mission sponsored by the Berean Baptist Church. They brought along their seven children—four boys and three girls. Jonathanpeter and Matthew would have been about 8 and 11 years old, respectively, at the time of the move.

In December of 2007, according to an online blog post, the family of nine visited the Charity Baptist Church in Killeen, Tex., where Jeffrey Klein gave a sermon.

"My heart was just drawn to Argentina," Jeffrey Klein said. He told the congregation a story about how the family had recently gone camping. It was during the summertime, but it began snowing outside, and one of the children fell ill. The family then met a man who offered them a warm cabin to stay in. The kind stranger was a missionary to the Mapuche people, an Indigenous group. That's when it clicked.

"We're not going there for the beauty of it. We're not going there for all the enjoyable things of the mountain life," Jeffrey Klein continued. "We're going there to see Mapuche people get born again, get washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and get excited about Him."

The family remained in Argentina for 10 years before moving to Coyhaique, Chile, for two more. The pastor from their sending church, Berean Baptist Church in Pendleton, wrote in a December 2019 blog post that the Kleins' mission was struggling financially.

The family moved back to the U.S. in February 2020—one month before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Some of the Klein brothers moved to Sherwood, court records show, and the parents moved to Baker City.

Adjusting to Oregon: The month after the Kleins returned to the U.S., in March 2020, Jonathanpeter Klein posed for a photo in front of a Trump flag while gripping a black rifle with both hands. That photo now appears in federal court documents as evidence of his potential political motivations.

Matthew Klein, too, appears to have had an affinity for Donald Trump. He affixed a flag supporting the president to his red Ford F-350, prosecutors say. In November, he reported to police that his truck had been vandalized and that he believed it was because of the flag.

Jonathanpeter worked as a roofer and also at a Domino's pizza restaurant, their attorney Michelle Sweet said during a March 26 hearing, The Oregonian reported.

In September, as the election neared, the brothers attended at least two separate far-right rallies.

On Sept. 7, 2020, prosecutors allege, Jonathanpeter arrived at the Oregon Capitol in Salem as part of a pro-Trump caravan that began in Clackamas. Prosecutors say Jonathanpeter shot a paintball gun at "unidentified targets" during a clash with Black Lives Matter protesters.

Separately, prosecutors allege, Matthew Klein attended the Sept. 26 Proud Boys rally in North Delta Park. According to federal and county prosecutors, he rode in the bed of a truck with two other men, including 19-year-old Philip Klein—another brother.

Portland police pulled over the vehicle, prosecutors say. They recovered five paintball guns and five shields—one of which said "Fuck BLM"—three baseball bats, an ax handle and a loaded 9 mm handgun, which Matthew allegedly admitted was his, court filings say.

In October 2020, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office charged Matthew with two counts of possession of a loaded firearm in a public place. He pleaded not guilty in December and is scheduled for a trial readiness hearing April 2. Prosecutors charged Philip Klein with one count of possession of a loaded firearm in a public place. He also pleaded not guilty and awaits a hearing.

Their alleged role Jan. 6: Prosecutors allege that, in late December, the brothers purchased plane tickets to Philadelphia, and Jonathanpeter notified his boss he would be gone from Jan. 4 to 8.

On Dec. 29, prosecutors allege, Matthew messaged another person on Instagram and asked if they were planning to go to Washington, D.C. The person responded yes and asked Matthew the same, court filings say.

"Yep! Got the time off and am going with one of my bro's. stoked af," he allegedly responded.

Federal prosecutors allege that, after exiting or getting ejected from the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6, the brothers used a wrench to force open a door on the building's north side. Jonathanpeter made his way into the Rotunda with a group of insurrectionists, prosecutors say.

Federal prosecutors used the Kleins' previous attendance at far-right protests as justification to hold the brothers in custody pending trial.

"The defendants' conduct on January 6th demonstrated a flagrant disregard and malice towards the rule of law and a willingness to confront law enforcement officers and use force to promote their political beliefs," federal prosecutors say. "The defendants' history and characteristics likewise support pretrial detention. Both have demonstrated a preparedness and willingness, if not eagerness, to engage in violence against those with whom they disagree, be it Black Lives Matters supporters or the United States government."

The judge denied the request for pretrial release, and the two Klein brothers remain in custody in the Multnomah County Detention Center in downtown Portland.