There was a sense that behind his mirrored aviator sunglasses, Glenn Miller’s eyes were burning with intensity. They always did when he spewed racist bitterness, and anyone who would listen got an earful.
“White people just getting fed up,” he said. “We’re building a white Christian army. We don’t make any bones about that.”
That morning, in the summer of 1984, he was at the apex of his white racist crusade, a pinnacle from which he would tumble in disgrace, denounced as a coward and traitor by the people he sought to lead.
Almost 30 years later, he is in a suburban Kansas City jail cell, charged with fatally shooting three people at random Sunday outside a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement home. Anyone familiar with his long history of anti-Semitism would figure that if Miller was the one who shot those three people, he thought they were Jewish.
But none of those who died — William Lewis Corporon, 69; his grandson Reat Griffin Underwood, 14; and Terri LaManno, 53 — were Jewish.
Miller, who made his first court appearance Tuesday, was charged as Frazier Glenn Cross, according to the Associated Press; however, his official, copyrighted Web site, which was last updated in November 2013, lists his name as Glenn Miller. On Tuesday, he entered a videoconference room in a wheelchair but stood to face the camera. He spoke only to answer routine questions from the judge and requested a court-appointed attorney. His demeanor was far different when he was arrested. From the back seat of a police car, he reportedly bellowed, “Heil Hitler.”
A longtime devotee of Adolf Hitler, Miller, 73, described himself as a Nazi-turned-Klansman. “That swastika turns too many people off,” he said. “The Klan name has tremendous appeal to so-called rednecks. You know, the rough, tough, beer-drinking, barroom brawlers.”
In his police mug shot, he is graying, bearded and disheveled, a far cry from the figure he cut three decades earlier. After 20 years in the military, the former Army Green Beret stood ramrod-straight in front of his small frame house at the end of a gravel driveway, not far from a rural two-lane road in a quiet North Carolina county.
He greeted visitors with a single question: “Are you a Jew?” Jews, he said, were not permitted to set foot on his 25-acre farm in Angier, N.C.
Standing there, arms folded across his chest, sleeves torn off his T-shirt and eyes hidden behind the mirrored sunglasses, he clearly was not cut from the same cloth as many other Klan leaders. Rather than join a long-established Klan group, he had formed his own faction, the Carolina Knights, in 1980.
The leader of the traditional Klan group, the North Carolina Knights, Virgil Griffin, was a gas station attendant who couldn’t read. His Klansmen, who took part in the infamous 1979 killings known as “the Greensboro massacre,” tended to be uneducated roughnecks.
Miller’s military background — he served two tours in Vietnam before being forced to retire from the Army for distributing racist propaganda — attracted veterans who tended to be more educated, disciplined and virulently racist.
“We’re working now on the spirit of Southern nationalism rather than secession, although I’d love to see it,” Miller said. “The white race is dying out. That’s what concerns me. Future generations are going to be a bunch of mix-breeded, kinky-headed, slant-eyed, fur-headed mongrels with bubble lips.”
Three days later, dressed in a hooded white robe, he held a torch to the base of a massive wooden cross and watched the flames crawl upward as more than 100 robed Klansmen chanted “White power.”
With a military pension to support his wife and four children, he said he could devote himself full time to developing his new army and teaching his children about the evils of “race mixing.”
“I’m educating them. If they see a Jew on television, they remember him,” he said with obvious pride. “They understand that the Jews control television.”
Not long after that, his Carolina Knights morphed into a new organization, the White Patriot Party. Though the new group has been described as a Klan outfit, it seemed much closer to its Nazi roots. He insisted that he was training his army only for self-
defense, but law enforcement sources said the tactics being taught went far beyond personal defense.
After evidence was unearthed of a plot to assassinate Morris Dees, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a group that tracks hate organizations, a court issued an order barring the group from engaging in paramilitary activity.
His training activities, which authorities said included river-crossing exercises and riot-
control drills, led to charges that he was operating an illegal paramilitary force. He said he was looking forward to the public spotlight that would come with his day in court.
“We are going to bad-mouth the Jews every day after the court session,” he said. “We can more or less select the jury. We’re going to have good, working-class white people, patriotic, flag-waving rednecks. And we’re going to expose that bunch of communists.”
His prediction proved wrong. He was found in criminal contempt and sentenced to six months in prison. But he jumped bond in 1987, while appealing the sentence, triggering a nationwide manhunt that led to Missouri. The FBI used tear gas to oust him from a mobile home, where they discovered three other men, automatic weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition and hand grenades.
Facing federal weapons charges, he turned on his compatriots, testifying against 14 white supremacists in Arkansas in 1988. In exchange for his testimony, his federal sentence was reduced to three years.
After his release, he found that his testimony had made him a pariah to the movement he espoused. The SPLC kept a profile of Miller that said: “He was reviled in white supremacist circles as a ‘race traitor’ and, for a while, kept a low profile. Now he’s making a comeback with The Aryan Alternative, a racist tabloid he’s been printing since 2005.”
He self-published an autobiography — “A White Man Speaks Out” — in 1999, and he continued to churn out racist screeds. In one, written in 2010, he told of addressing a class at Missouri State Univeristy: “I got so heated at one point, I raised up and blurted out, ‘Hell yes, I hate you and all jews, and you all deserve my hate for what your people have done to mine.”
He supplmented his military pension by working as a long-haul trucker and moved from North Carolina to Aurora, Mo. After retiring from trucking in 2002, he ran for the U.S. House in 2006 and the Senate in 2010, receiving almost no votes.
During his Senate campaign, he drove around the state in a white pickup truck decorated with two Confederate battle flags. He ran a radio ad that said: “We’ve sat back and allowed the Jews to take over our government, our banks and our media. America is no longer ours. America belongs to the Jews who rule it and to the mud people who multiply in it.”
The SPLC contacted his wife, Marge, after Sunday’s shootings. The group reported that she said her husband had called her from a casino about 10:30 a.m. to say he was winning. The shootings occurred about 21 / 2 hours later.
He is being held in lieu of $10 million bond, and his next court appearance is scheduled for April 24.
This article is based in part on reporting that Halsey did in 1984.