The 73-year-old former Green Beret and Ku Klux Klan member accused of killing three people at two Jewish centers in Kansas has a long history of hate-fueled behavior and violent threats, including repeated tangles with authorities and civil rights groups.
In the name of white supremacy, Frazier Glenn Cross has organized armed militias, stockpiled military weapons and plotted to kill the founder of the Southern Law Poverty Center, which sued him in 1984 for trying to intimidate blacks in North Carolina.
Cross, a Vietnam veteran, served three years in federal prison for weapons-related offenses in the 1980s, according to the SPLC, which maintains a dossier on him.
But while Cross made a career of sinister activity, apparently he never -- until now -- was charged with personally carrying out any violent attacks.
Cross was arrested Sunday, on the eve of Passover, after allegedly shooting to death a 14-year-old Eagle Scout and his 69-year-old grandfather at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City campus in Overland Park then gunning down a 53-year-old children's center worker at Village Shalom, a nearby retirement community.
The bearded suspect, whose personal website includes an old photo of his wife and five children, reportedly yelled “Heil Hitler” as he was taken away in a police cruiser.
The attack, now being prosecuted as a hate crime, appeared to be the sudden, horrific culmination of a life driven by venom.
Authorities said Monday that they were aware of Cross' infamous past, but he hadn't been on their radar for some time.
The FBI "wasn't watching him recently," Special Agent in Charge Michael Kaste said.
Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said Cross didn't appear to have any connection to Overland Park, and his choice of targets was motivated solely by his desire to attack Jews.
"There's no way of telling why he targeted this particular community," Douglass said.
None of the three victims was Jewish.
Cross was involved in extremist politics as a young man, but became active in the KKK after returning home from the Vietnam War, where he served in the Army's Special Forces. He left the military in 1979 with a rank of master sergeant, according to "The Encyclopedia of Right-Wing Extremism in Modern American History" by Steven E. Atkins.
He lived in North Carolina, where he became head of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He turned the chapter into a paramilitary group — with help from soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg — organized against minorities and their advocates, Atkins reported.
He also began a string of unsuccessful attempts at public office, running in the 1984 Democratic primary for governor and the 1986 Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
In 1985, the SPLC, which monitors hate groups and organizes legal actions against them, reached a federal consent agreement with Cross that prevented his group from operating as a paramilitary group and from harassing people. He later changed his group's name to the White Patriot Party, with the goal of creating an all-white nation in the South, according to Atkins.
The SPLC soon found evidence that Cross was gathering weapons and getting training help from active-duty Marines. For breaking the '85 consent agreement, Cross was brought to court and sentenced to a year in prison for criminal contempt.
He was released on bond while he appealed, and went on the run.
The manhunt ended in Ozark, Mo., where federal agents found Cross and three other men in a mobile home with a cache of hand grenades, automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Cross was sent to prison, and served three years, a term that was shortened when he agreed to testify against a group of white supremacists.
After his release, he returned to Missouri, where he was considered an outcast from the white supremacy movement, according to Atkins.
Since then, he’s been less of a leader and more of a lone wolf.
He drove a truck for a living and wrote an autobiography, “A White Man Speaks Out.” When his trucking career ended in 2002, he began publishing a provocative newsletter, The Aryan Alternative.
Cross also turned to the radio and Internet to spread his message against blacks, immigrants and Jews — in an interview with a local television station in 2005, Cross said he hated non-whites.
“We’re fed up, white people, believe me,” Cross, identified as Glenn Miller, said in an assertive drawl, wearing a cowboy hat and a thick mustache. “And we’re gonna take our country back.”
A year later, he gave an expletive-filled interview to another television reporter, telling him, "You're a Jew and I hate you."
Cross remained in rural Missouri, where, again calling himself Glenn Miller, he restarted his fringe election efforts, making write-in attempts for public office that were widely seen as a ploy to spread his message of hate.
In his most recent campaign as a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010, the Missouri Broadcasters Association asked the Federal Communications Commission to stop Cross from using his air time to criticize immigrants and minorities, the A.P. reported at the time. The FCC ruled against Cross, and allowed radio and TV stations to reject his ads.
Cross called Howard Stern's radio show during the campaign. The host, who is Jewish, asked who he hated more, Jews or blacks.
"Jews," Cross replied. "A thousand times more. Compared to our Jewish problem, all other problems are mere distractions."
SPLC fellow Mark Potok said in an interview that Cross was “essentially a lone operator” and had been “coasting along for years” — one of thousands his group and law enforcement authorities monitor for their potential to commit hate crimes or domestic terrorism.
But Cross didn’t give any blatant signs of a planned shooting spree.
Potok said he didn't fault law enforcement or his own group for missing anything.
“We all try to look for the warning signs of real criminal violence, but it’s extremely unusual to see something from a posting on the Internet, for instance, that they’re about to start killing,” Potok said.
First published April 14 2014, 1:16 PM