Four Racist Skinheads Write Letters from Prison After Being Convicted of Brutal Killing
In the months after their arrests in the 2003 murder of Randall Townsend, four racist Skinheads sent scores of handwritten letters to friends, lovers and relatives.
In them, the suspects — David Nikos Pillatos, who was 19 at the time of the killing, Scotty James Butters, 20, Tristain Lynn Frye, 22, and Kurtis William Monschke, 19 — expressed fury at those they thought were talking to police, talked about their own fates, and even offered rare glimmers of regret. Frye, the only woman, was pregnant with Pillatos' child at the time and both of them frequently worried about the future of their child.
The mostly undated letters paint a confusing portrait, with stories and attitudes changing regularly and many references left unclear. In the end, Pillatos, Butters and Frye all pleaded guilty — the two men to first-degree, and Frye to second-degree murder — and testified against Monschke, the neo-Nazi Volksfront leader who was later convicted of aggravated first-degree murder. Pillatos, Butters and Frye had begun the assault on Townsend, who they mistakenly assumed was a drug dealer, using baseball bats, rocks and steel-toed boots; Monschke finished off the homeless man with a bat.
The letters came to light when jail officials began opening mail in order, they said, to keep the jail safe. Although the trial judge refused to allow any of the letters to be presented to the jury, they are a part of the court record.
Letters to attorneys were not opened, with one exception: a remarkable note from Pillatos to his attorney that was not marked "legal mail."
In it, Pillatos writes, "FUCK THE PROSECUTORS. I'M NOT TAKING A DEAL. ... I killed him and I liked it."
Other excerpts follow. For the sake of authenticity, grammatical and spelling mistakes have been left intact.
DAVID NIKOS PILLATOS
To Frye: "I know you were scared and didn't want nothing to happen. You're a pregnant woman for Christ sake. You didn't even help burn evidence. Polygraph that. You didn't even have steel toed boots. Polygraph that. You gonna do fine baby. Don't stress. You have more luck than me. Keep the baby healthy. Stress won't help."
To a friend: "By the time I get out I'll be on big angry person. Prison will not help me. I'll try to help myself. Dam I'll be 39 years old if I'm released with good time. My kid will be 20 and I'll have no one. Have to get out and start all over again from scratch. To old to marry with only 8 months freedom from age 12-39. Sad but my whole life has been."
To Frye: "Will you mom allow that I teach Jr.? I know I already asked. Does she think I'm a monster. SKINHEAD falls under that category to most people. Call it uneducated hate. The bible (I've been studying) is pretty clear. It says the rulers of Jerusalem were pure and white as snow."
To Frye: "It wasn't planned to kill a bum. Even if said I wanted to beat up a drug dealer and I did. The police aren't doing enough of it."
To his father: "Hearing about all that homeless guys friends pissed me off. If he was a retard or mentally ill how did he know what friendship even was. As far as I'm concerned I didn't do it. I don't have any friends to mourn me. If I die, there will be maybe 8 people there."
To Frye: "Fuck him [Monschke] and Scotty [Butters]. Testify against all of us. You can do more for me out there than in here. Raise our child, send me pics, visit me, let me get you pregnant at a conjugal visit. Don't let pride or fear get in the way. You're a mother."
To his aunt: "And I am sorry I'm back in jail but I feel its out of my control. I don't plan on doing crimes and don't even really like violence. I'm pleading insanity. I know I wasn't raised this way. And I know I used drugs. That's not why I killed the man. I kinda flipped out."
To Frye: "I'll be 43 almost 44 if I get murder 1. And I'll be big, tattooed and mean as a motherfucker. As well as immature. Can't grow up in jail. Will ya still love me if I get out crazier than I am and start a militia?"
To his grandmother: "I wish it was different, but I deserve whatever I get. It's karma. There's lots of stuff I've done that I never got caught for. Now I'll pay. It's up to whatever higher powers there are."
To Frye: "I want the baby to be named David Matthews Lane Pillatos. It's gonna be a boy I think. Two famous revolutionaries. [Editor's note: Bob Mathews, the leader of the terrorist group The Order, died in a shootout with the FBI in 1984; David Lane, a Mathews follower, is in prison for his part in a murder The Order carried out the same year.] I tried to convince myself I could give up my beliefs, but I can't."
To his father:"At the library there's a how to draw book called How to Draw 50 Famous Faces. Its step by step illustrations. Copy off Hitler's."
To Frye: "I'll love ya no matter what. Even if you decide jr shouldn't be raised with my beliefs. It would be kind of cute to have water colored child's paintings of swastikas with suns and stick figures sent to me. Just playen."
TRISTAIN LYNN FRYE
To Pillatos: "Baby, you should see my cell. It's all decorated! My mats are on my floor because my cards are on the bed. I've got pictures on my desk (Lisa's sending one of you soon I hope). I've got collages on my walls and I've got Temper & Twist [graffiti "tags" used by Frye and Pillatos] all over. It's not quite home, but it'll have to do. ... Anyhow it's late and my pregnancy sack is here so I'm gonna go. DUDE. It's peanut butter and jelly. Score!"
To a friend: "The death penalty will more than likely be ruled out. Pray. As for Baby, I have an appointment soon. I've got cold sores all over my lips from some sort of allergic reaction to something they gave me. It looks horrid! It's embarrassing. I hope it's gone before I see David [Pillatos] in court."
To her sister-in-law: "The crazy part is [my grandmother] had told me to watch out for their beliefs and silly me, I had to find out the hard way what is involved with their beliefs. I should've listed rather than trust that I wouldn't get drug down by their racist, prejudiced crap. You know that my mom is the same age as [Townsend]. That scares me. That man was so innocent and he got killed over nothing because some thought themselves to be superior."
To her sister-in-law: "If my attorneys can prove I am not racist, and all this wasn't for my initiation I will be set free. What happened to that man is tragic and I am the only one that cares, cries or hurts over that mans death."
To her father: "What about baby? Sigh. Whatever happens is Gods will. I can't talk about this case any more but even Jen, Kurtis' girlfriend said I've been wanting to get my red laces for a while! The fact is I really didn't care. They're shoelaces, the boys other person wanted me to get them more than anyone."
To her mother: "I guess we really wasted that money but it was so cool to be able to get pierced with my mom! Dude! Where's my car!? Cheer up mom. Everything will be fine."
To her father: "See the fact is that I was there and saw everything but didn't call 911. Have you ever watched someone you know kill a man you just shared a beer with and then had that same man threaten your if you told? No one can judge me or my actions except God."
SCOTTY JAMES BUTTERS
To his girlfriend: "I don't know if you know, but I am locked up for murder. I was set up by some sissy ass, fake, young wannabe skinheads. They are trying to give me the death penalty. ... Tell everyone I said hi. If I get out I am moving back to Humboldt county for sure. I do not like Washington and miss good old Northern California. ... Hopefully I will be out in my early 30's."
To a friend: "I will stand tall and strong to a solid, loyal brother or sister, but I will not just sit there and die for a punk ass traitor. ... The only good thing I can say about my arrest was when Detroit arrested me I was drunk. LOL."
To his girlfriend: "The son of a bitch [Pillatos] has the nerve to call himself a skinhead. Then I find out he has a spic gang tattoo on his stomach. Also, his girlfriend [Frye] claims to be WP ["white power"] I always thought she was a fake, but come to find out she fucks niggers. Not only are they traitors + betray me, but they are fake + a disgrace to my race. They fucked me over + now they expect my loyalty."
To his girlfriend: "I got more tattoos. I got the Swastika on my arm. It looks like this. I have another swastika on my right chest. It is big and blocked. I have lightning bolts on my left chest. I have half of my Iron Cross on my right shoulder. I have more to go. ... How is everyone down there? Tell Hez, Esther, etc. I said hi. Man I miss it down there. Making money, getting loaded, hanging out, etc. etc."
KURTIS WILLIAM MONSCHKE
To Jake Laskey: "Hey Jake? [Editor's note: Laskey is the head of the "Prisoner Affairs Department" of Volksfront, the neo-Nazi group of which Monschke was the Washington state leader.] There's a black guy & a Jew, both sitting atop a building, both fall ... who hits the ground first? ... Who cares! Ha Ha Ha ... I am trying to get moved to the 'God Pod' responsible living unit. Where you attend bible school. I know most the teaching will be tainted, but I can see through the Jewry."
To a friend: "That's 2 solid Aryan's who were doing a lot of good for the movement. One with a child on the way (14 words). [Editor's note: The "14 Words" — "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children" — is a famous motto penned by an imprisoned white supremacist murderer. Monschke is apparently referring to Frye and Pillatos.] Who are now in the hands of the Jew. Two people couldn't just stand tall & hold their own for the fight of the Aryan race. Kind of makes you want to cry, huh?
To Laskey: "When I get out I will wipe my feces on those shitskins [Butters and Pillatos], & take pix & then to top it all off, I'll make a Web site dedicated to broadcasting those who don't remain loyal in times of struggle & put all the pictures on the site!"
To his girlfriend "I heard that the detectives paid you a visit. They are using everything you told them specially the whole red shoe lace thing. But I'm not mad at you. I love you. I hope no one has turned you against me. All my days will surely darken if that has happened."
To Laskey: "Bruder [German for "brother"], we are one, from the first to the last. I lack the artillery, but I have enough fight in me to win. And we will win, for it's the promises of our grandfathers. ... It is time for revolution, but people just aren't read, The Order, yes they were right on the money, hit it on the freaking nail. We just need to pick up the damn torch."
To Laskey: "Why am I such a leper? I would really like to know. Is it b/c I chose not to give up on people when they made mistakes? ... But does that mean I need to be ridiculed and made a leper by my own people? It hurts. But as I said to others I love my people enough that I'd give my life ... If hating me, blaming me, or killing me, some how helps the movement move forward then so be it!"
To Laskey: "Look last night I was upset. My head is clear now. I understand why everyone is unhappy with me. And if the way they choose to deal with it is by abandoning me & not acknowledging me than anything more than a nigger, then so be it. I still believe in the cause, to be noble & true. I believe Volksfront to be a fine organization & am severely sorry to have brought harm to it or its member."