False Patriots

Profiles of 40 antigovernment leaders
The Eighth Angel
Ron Cole, 31

Most everyone on the radical right professed great sympathy toward the Branch Davidians led by David Koresh in Waco, Texas, but there was only one person who actually took up the faith of the beleaguered denizens of Ranch Apocalypse.

Ronald David Cole came to Waco to cover the 51-day standoff for The Jubilee, a tabloid of the racist and anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement.

Within months of the fiery end of the standoff, Cole had produced a self-published book on the episode, Sinister Twilight: A Tragedy Near Waco, and a Sinister Twilight in America. Cole and a surviving Davidian also fruitlessly invited other survivors to join them in restarting the Waco group at their home in Colorado.

And soon after that, Cole, describing Koresh as the seventh in a succession of angels marking the end-times, declared himself the eighth.

"God sent a message to me, and I suspect I am that heir," Cole told a reporter. "God has given me a gift." Cole also said he was "wing commander" of the Colorado First Light Infantry, a Patriot group with a membership of three.

In 1997, Cole moved to a Denver suburb, apparently in order to attend the trial of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, who Cole claimed to have once met.

Two months into the trial, Cole was arrested at his home with a large illegal arms cache — allegedly including a grenade hooked up to his front door — and was sent to federal prison for more than two years.


Star Trekker
William Cooper, 56

While many militiamen were concerned about illegal aliens, Vietnam veteran William Cooper fretted about aliens of another kind.

In a 1991 book that became a movement classic, sold in mainstream bookstores as well as from militia fair booths, Cooper described how his research proved that President Dwight Eisenhower signed a secret treaty with beings from outer space allowing them to abduct humans in return for advanced technology.

Behold a Pale Horse also spoke of the scheming cabals and global elites, familiar to all Patriots, whose final aim was the institution of the much-feared "New World Order."

"A grand game of chess is being played on a level that we can barely imagine," Cooper wrote.

Cooper also ran a short wave radio show called "Hour of Time" and produced a periodical. Today, Cooper says he was wrong about aliens.

The truth, he explains, is global elites are using fears of aliens to control Americans, in particular through the "Star Trek" TV series, which he says is "an indoctrination into the concepts of socialism through subliminal initiation of the youth of the nation."

Currently, Cooper is wanted for tax evasion and bank fraud and has been holed up in his hilltop home in Eagar, Ariz., for three years.

He recently E-mailed militia friends saying he'd learned an arrest was imminent, but that he'd "kill as many [agents] as I can before they kill me. You can all count on me."


Glass Houses
Helen Chenoweth, 62

Remarkably, the militia movement of the 1990s found many defenders in public office around the country, especially county officials and sheriffs in the western states.

But none were so high-ranking as Republican Helen Chenoweth, the three-term Idaho congresswoman who became famous as the "poster girl for the militia movement."

Elected during the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, Chenoweth wasted little time before outraging many. She defended Samuel Sherwood, a key militia leader, after he was quoted saying, "Go up and look your legislators in the face, because one day you may be forced to blow it off." She proposed a bill to strip federal agents of their arrest powers without prior consent by local officials.

A bitter opponent of environmentalists, she said it was "the white, Anglo-Saxon male" who was truly endangered. She explained that the reason that Idaho has few minority residents is "the warm-climate community just hasn't found the colder climate that attractive."

And she angrily attacked President Clinton during the Monica Lewinksy scandal, saying, "Personal conduct does count."

Then came a revelation: Chenoweth had herself carried on an affair with a married man for six years. It was a relationship, she conceded, that she "came to regret" — but she insisted that it was different from Clinton's affair, as it had predated her election.


Eating Their Young
Paul Darland, 29

Late one night in September 1994, police in Fowlerville, Mich., pulled over three combat fatigue-clad militiamen who, it turned out, had been surveiling police and carrying a major arsenal in their car.

Rather than show up at their arraignment, the men — who said they were bodyguards for a hard-line militia propagandist, Mark Koernke — hid out at the farm of a fellow militia sympathizer and waited for promised help from Koernke.

But as they waited, two of the group — farm owner John Maurice Stephenson and Paul David Darland — grew increasingly agitated and angry at Koernke for failing to deliver. As they talked, they decided that 26-year-old comrade William Gleason, who faced weapons charges along with Darland, had been secretly informing on them to Koernke.

Telling Gleason that they needed to dig a grave for Koernke, they got Gleason to help. When Gleason took his turn, Darland stood behind him and murdered him with a single shot to the head.

Stephenson was arrested in 1996 and eventually pleaded guilty to being an accessory. Darland got away to Indiana, where he took a fake name and married a woman who had no idea who he really was.

But police, knowing Darland's taste for topless bars, finally caught up with him in a Fort Wayne club, and in early 2001 he was convicted of murder.