Trail of Death Follows White Supremacist Gang Led by Chevie Kehoe
Trail of death follows white supremacist gang
Chevie O'Brien Kehoe, a pot-smoking 25-year-old who looks like he could be the logger next door, grew up dreaming about playing a starring role in the white supremacist revolution he was sure was just around the corner.
While only a boy of 12, Kehoe heard about the exploits of Bob Mathews, a self-styled white revolutionary who tried to live out a novel's vision of race war and died in a fiery shootout with the FBI in 1984.
Today, court documents on file in three states — Ohio, Washington and Arkansas — claim that Kehoe was grimly successful in achieving his life's dream of following in the footsteps of Mathews and becoming a blood-drenched Aryan warrior. He is tied to more acts of domestic terrorism that any other right-wing extremist arrested in the United States in the last decade.
As the alleged founder and leader of the so-called Aryan Peoples Republic, he is accused of involvement in five murders, the attempted murder of several police officers, bomb-making, armed robberies, burglaries and selling stolen property. Among other attacks, he allegedly pipe-bombed City Hall in Spokane, Wash.
Officials are prohibited by a judge's gag order from discussing the Kehoe case. But the case stems from an investigation that began three years ago, stretches from coast to coast and in many ways offers a road map to the topography of today's radical right.
Kehoe, who goes to trial on racketeering charges starting Feb. 16 in a federal courtroom in Little Rock, Ark., could face the death penalty. In addition, he could face state charges of murder and other crimes in connection with a five-year crime spree.
Kehoe's plan — as far-fetched as it may sound to many — was to carve out a new, independent country in the United States that would limit citizenship to whites. All others were to face forcible deportation or death.
According to the indictment, Kehoe "patterned his enterprise's activities after the actions and ideology" of Mathews' group — The Order — that was responsible for a series of armored car heists that netted $4 million and the murder of at least two people.
An 8-Year-Old Is Murdered
Kehoe's alleged violence was truly grotesque.
Among other things, Kehoe is accused of masterminding three Arkansas murders, including that of an 8-year-old girl who had a plastic bag duct-taped over her head. As Sarah Elizabeth Powell suffocated to death, she was apparently tortured with electric cattle prods to reveal where her gun-dealer stepfather hid his gold and other valuables.
Officials also believe the little girl first may have been forced to watch while her stepfather William Mueller, 52, and mother Nancy, 28, were suffocated in a January 1996 triple homicide that shocked even seasoned murder detectives.
The attack may not have been a complete surprise. Less than a year before, William Mueller told authorities that his home near Tilly, Ark., had been burglarized of firearms and other items worth more than $50,000. Mueller told friends that he feared the perpetrators — whom he hinted he might know — would return after the February 1995 burglary.
Officials now say that the proceeds from this burglary, including a 28-foot travel trailer stolen near Harrison, Ark., were taken to the Pacific Northwest by Kehoe, who earlier had teamed up with neo-Nazi Skinhead Danny Lee and federal prison escapee Faron Lovelace at Elohim City, a compound of religious extremists in eastern Oklahoma.
'A Liquid Diet'
After the Mueller family's bodies were tossed into a bayou near Russellville, Ark., Kehoe and his companions joked that the victims were on a "liquid diet," court records say. It would be six months before the badly decomposed bodies were discovered by a local fisherman. Investigators initially were completely stumped.
But small flecks of auto body paint were found on the duct tape used on the victims, eventually becoming the forensic clue that convinced federal ATF agents and Arkansas state investigators that Kehoe was connected to the three murders. The flecks scientifically matched paint found a year later on a freshly repainted pickup truck used by Chevie and his brother, Cheyne, authorities say.
The Arkansas killers stole a trailer full of firearms, ammunition, gold and militia supplies that the Muellers used to sell at gun shows, usually those tailored in part to militia fanciers and others interested in the same kind of antigovernment rhetoric that attracted Kehoe and his family.
Kehoe and his white supremacist cohorts are accused of transporting the stolen firearms and half a million rounds of ammunition from the 1995 and 1996 thefts in Arkansas to Spokane, stopping at Elohim City on the way. The stolen loot was hidden in a garage at The Shadows Motel & RV Park in north Spokane, where Kehoe and his band of Aryan warriors holed up for a period of time in 1995 and 1996.
Later, the stolen items were kept in storage lockers rented under fictitious names in Oldtown, Idaho, and Thompson Falls in western Montana.
The Shadows during this period was home to an underground trade in guns and, apparently, bombs. A former manager recalls that Kehoe spent time making his own blasting caps and pipe bombs, detonating the devices under stacks of telephone directories.
The manager also says that he saw Kehoe's stash of stolen firearms and other items he's accused of stealing from Mueller — including a handful of Mueller's business cards. Kehoe told the manager that he bought the guns, ammunition and survivalist supplies from a gun dealer who had gone broke, and authorities were never notified.