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Mayor wonders if Jewish center suspect wanted to 'go out with a bang'

By Ed Payne and Ed Lavandera, CNN
updated 7:40 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Frazier Glenn Cross lived in Marionville, Missouri, for about 12 years
  • He would invite people to his house for white supremacist meetings, mayor says
  • Cross would share his views on Jews and racial mixing in letters to the newspaper
  • He is charged with capital murder and first-degree premeditated murder

(CNN) -- Until a few days ago, Frazier Glenn Cross was just a customer to Dan Clevenger -- albeit one with extremist views on race.

Clevenger is the mayor of Marionville and the owner of an engine repair shop in the southwest Missouri town.

Cross, who also goes by Frazier Glenn Miller, is a long time white supremacist whose self-financed book, "A White Man Speaks Out," sits on the shelf in the town library.

But the mayor said most of the 2,200 folk who live there didn't subscribe to those beliefs.

Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old Missouri man with a long history of spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric, is seen in a police car Sunday, April 13. He is suspected of fatally shooting three people: a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas, and a woman at a nearby assisted-living facility. Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old Missouri man with a long history of spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric, is seen in a police car Sunday, April 13. He is suspected of fatally shooting three people: a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas, and a woman at a nearby assisted-living facility.
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"He had a lot of hate built up inside of him," Clevenger said. "And every time he'd come down here, he'd go on about different races -- mainly Jews. He claims they're all bad, but I don't believe that."

Cross is now accused of killing three people at two Jewish-affiliated facilities in Overland Park, Kansas.

"I think he moved here around 2002, so it was right around there when I met him," Clevenger said. "Used to bring his lawn equipment, or I would go out to his house and work on his tractor a couple of times."

Views no secret

Cross' views were no secret to residents of the area. He would often invite people to his house for white supremacist meetings.

But Clevenger didn't think many attended.

"I considered him a friend, and everyone is entitled to freedom of speech and I didn't keep him away because he was a customer," Clevenger said. "I can just ignore things that people say."

Cross would also write letters to the local newspaper espousing his views on Jews and racial mixing.

"I don't think Marionville citizens really gave a lot of attention to that stuff," Clevenger said. "I didn't."

They're paying attention now.

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Possible hate crime charges

Cross has been charged with one count of capital murder and one count of first-degree premeditated murder in connection with the killings Sunday.

Cross appeared in court Tuesday in a wheelchair, wearing an anti-suicide smock.

He is being held on $10 million bond, and he was ordered to return to court on April 24.

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said that federal prosecutors are still collecting evidence and that federal charges could come later.

Legal experts say hate crime charges are possible, even though the victims were Christian.

The capital murder charge carries the possibility of a life sentence or the death penalty. No decision on whether to seek the death penalty for Cross has been made yet, Steve Howe, district attorney for Johnson County, said.

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'A raging anti-Semite'

Cross is a "raging anti-Semite" who has posted extensively in online forums that advocate exterminating Jews, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.

He has called Jews "swarthy, hairy, bow-legged, beady-eyed, parasitic midgets."

According to the SPLC, Cross founded and ran the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s. He was forced to shut down after the SPLC sued him for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and intimidating African-Americans.

He then formed another group, the White Patriot Party.

In the late 1980s, Cross spent three years in prison on weapons charges and for plotting the assassination of SPLC founder Morris Dees. The short sentence was a result of a plea bargain he struck with federal prosecutors. In exchange, he testified against 14 white supremacists in a sedition trial in Arkansas in 1988.

"He was reviled in white supremacist circles as a 'race traitor,' and, for a while, kept a low profile," according to an SPLC profile of him. "Now he's making a comeback with The Aryan Alternative, a racist tabloid he's been printing since 2005."

What the killings say about U.S. hate groups

No surprise

Radio host David Pakman interviewed Cross in 2010, when he ran a write-in campaign for U.S. Senate. He received seven votes.

"He told me in no uncertain times, even though I never said anything specific to him, (that) merely because I was Jewish he didn't like me," Pakman said.

Although unexpected, word of Cross' alleged involvement in the shootings didn't come as a complete surprise to the Marionville mayor.

"It was kind of shocking at first. But then reading the article and thinking about it, I thought, 'Yeah that sounds like something he would do,'" Clevenger said.

According to Clevenger, Cross' alleged actions "shows that he didn't care."

"He didn't have much regard for life. He just wanted to make a show, and he didn't care who paid for it," he told CNN.

Clevenger said the 73-year-old Cross told him he wasn't going to live much longer. He wonders if Cross wanted to "go out, make the big show -- go out with a bang."

"He never said anything about it other than his poor health, and he knew he wasn't going to be living very much longer," he said. "That might have been something he was talking about. Something like this."

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