Frazier Glenn Cross, the man accused of murder in the shootings of three people outside Jewish facilities in Kansas last week was, for all practical purposes, born at the age of 49.
The federal government gave him that name when he was released from prison in 1990, along with a new social security number and a new place to live, not far from the Missouri River in western Iowa.
The idea was to erase any connection to the man he had been before: Frazier Glenn Miller. White Nationalist leader. Spewer of hate. Federal informant.
“I joined the family in Sioux City, Iowa,” Miller wrote later in his self-published autobiography. “I enrolled in truck driving school…and I’ve been trucking ever since. And I love it. After prison, the freedom of the open road is gloriously exhilarating.”
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Less than three years earlier Miller had been a fugitive from justice, the subject of a nationwide manhunt after he had declared war on blacks and Jews, exhorting his thousands of followers to violently overthrow the very government that would soon become his protector.
“Let the blood of our enemies flood the streets, rivers and fields of the nation,” Miller wrote. “[R]ise up and throw off the chains which bind us to the satanic, Jewish controlled and ruled federal government. Let the battle axes swing smoothly and the bullets wiss [sic] true.”
DECLARATION OF WAR
In the early morning hours of April 30, 1987, more than three dozen federal and state law enforcement agents surrounded a mobile home in Ozark, Missouri. A van recently purchased by Miller in Louisiana had been spotted outside by an agent the day before.
A volley of tear gas was fired and then, just after 7 a.m, four men emerged and gave themselves up.
Among them was Miller, the founder of Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the paramilitary White Patriot Party in North Carolina. The United States Marshals Service had issued a nationwide bulletin seeking Miller’s arrest after he disappeared while appealing his conviction for criminal contempt.
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Agents recovered hand grenades, automatic rifles, pistols and flak jackets inside the trailer, according to FBI statements at the time. Explosives experts from nearby Fort Leonard Wood were called in to detonate a box containing about twenty pipe bombs.
The authorities also found a Xerox machine and about a thousand copies of Miller’s “Declaration of War.” During his 10 days on the run, Miller had mailed his typewritten call to arms to thousands of white nationalists, as well as members of Congress and dozens of media outlets.
“I realize fully that I will be caught quickly,” Miller had written in his letter. “[B]ut I will die with contempt on my lips and with sword in my hand. My fate will either be assassination or the death penalty.”
But faced with an array of charges that could have put him behind bars for 20 years or more, Miller’s bombast was quickly reduced to a squeal. Within days of his arrest, he was signalling his willingness to make a deal.
“He stated that it was ‘all a bluff that got out of hand,’” according to an FBI agent’s notes, obtained by ABC News, of an interview with Miller a few weeks after his arrest. “[H]aving spent eight days in jail and having the opportunity to dry out from excessive alcohol consumption, he has learned to develop tolerance. He stated emphatically that he would never hurt anybody,” the agent wrote in recounting Miller’s statements.
Among those present for the initial interviews with Miller was then-federal prosecutor J. Douglas McCullough, now a judge on the North Carolina state court of appeals.
Steve Daniels, an anchor for ABC affiliate WTVD, interviewed McCullough this week in Raleigh.
“He tried to be a little bit self-serving,” McCullough said of Miller during the interview. “Every defendant in those situations usually is at first. But he did open up about a lot of things about the White Patriot Party. He detailed a number of people that were involved in illegal activities that were his associates. And that’s what we were looking for. ”
In a series of ensuing interviews with federal and North Carolina investigators, Miller never denied his racist and anti-Semitic views, but claimed he had always denounced violence and illegal activity.
“Miller wanted nothing more to do with the movement,” according to an FBI account of an interview in June of 1987. He was “willing to turn his back on it in order to return to his family. His problem in the past had been intolerance linked with excessive drinking.”
A month later, in an interview with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, during which he accused two of his former comrades of murder, he described his time on the run from the law as little more than a lark.
“I was on vacation, flirting with girls and drinking beer and going red-necking,” Miller told the agents. “I love to go out and drink a beer with rednecks…do the Texas Two-Step. I’m a pretty good dancer by the way,” he said.
In the course of their investigation, authorities also learned the stunning details of Miller’s arrest a year earlier. Raleigh police officers had caught Miller in the back seat of a vehicle, in mid-act with a black male prostitute masquerading as a woman.
“It was pretty shocking,” says McCullough, “because of his personal stances that he had taken and what he was now accused on engaging in.”
McCullough says he has read the police report of the incident but declined to comment on the specifics. “I would rather not go into the details,” he said. “They’re rather salacious. I think the facts speak for themselves and people can draw their own conclusions about how incongruous that is.”
Miller was not charged in connection with the prostitution arrest and no public record of the incident could be located. But in a recorded phone call with the Southern Poverty Law Center last fall, Miller claimed that he had lured the prostitute to the meeting with the intention of beating him.
Eventually, McCullough, the federal prosecutor, would approve a plea deal with Miller recommending a five-year prison sentence in exchange for his cooperation and testimony against his former compatriots. He would serve less than three years of that sentence at a prison in western New York.
“I am not certain that we got 100 percent of what we wanted,” McCullough told WTVD. “He did testify in a couple of cases here in the eastern part of the state, or agreed to testify where the people plead guilty knowing he was going to testify.”
In 1998, Miller was a key witness in a high-profile federal trial that charged more than a dozen white nationalists in an alleged conspiracy to levy war against the United States government. The Department of Justice had called it Operation Clean Sweep. Miller testified that he had received two payments totaling $200,000 from a leader of the alleged conspiracy, but in the end all of those accused were acquitted and, incredibly, one of the jurors later married one of the defendants.
“His testimony was extremely weak,” says Leonard Zeskind, who tracked Miller’s activities in the 1980′s as research director for the Center for the Democratic Renewal, a civil rights group fighting Klan activities.
“I believe that Miller was essentially playing a game with the feds. And I don’t think he had any intention of becoming a good witness. The guy was a stone-to-the-bone Nazi,” Zeskind says. “He never gave that up. I am on the record as saying the man should have died in prison.”
But McCullough says that nothing would have changed what happened last week in Kansas. Even if he had refused to deal with Miller back in 1987, he would have spent no more than fifteen years in prison.
“We made the deal that we could make at the time and whether it’s right or wrong, it’s really kind of immaterial at this point,” McCullough says. “Human beings are unpredictable. I don’t think there is anybody who could know what he was capable of doing,” he said of the shootings in Kansas. “I certainly never saw that in his personality. He was a blowhard who liked to be in front of a crowd. He liked to whip the crowd up and get the emotions running high.”
Very little is known of the years Miller spent in Iowa and Nebraska living as Frazier Glenn Cross.
“He asked for protection from both the White Patriot Party people and blacks in prison because he had alienated both groups,” says McCullough. ”Obviously once he served his sentence he couldn’t go back to where his old compatriots were because he would be at risk. So we had to put him somewhere safe.”
It’s clear that Cross eventually discarded his assumed identity provided by the federal government and resumed his life as the belligerent, unapologetic white supremacist, Frazier Glenn Miller.
And no one, it seems, could predict the tragic consequences that would follow.