A Murder, Major Drug Charges and a Plotted Killing for Hire Vex White Supremacists

Extremist Crimes

Racist leaders have been bedeviled lately by tabloid-worthy developments: One is under arrest for plotting to kill his wife, another was picked up on methamphetamine trafficking charges, and a third was murdered, allegedly by a black man he may have propositioned.

Idaho attorney Edgar J. Steele, best known for defending the late Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler in 2000, was arrested June 11 by federal authorities for allegedly hiring a man to kill his wife Cyndi, 53, and her mother. Steele allegedly told a long-time Idaho associate, Larry Fairfax, that he wanted the two women to die in a car accident so Steele could collect insurance money. In return, he was to pay Fairfax $25,000 and give him some of the insurance proceeds.

Instead, Fairfax went to the police and agreed to wear a wire. He recorded Steele saying that he "wanted the plan carried out," had "no second thoughts," and wanted Fairfax to make sure they were dead so he "wouldn't have to take care of a paraplegic."

Steele, self-proclaimed "attorney for the damned," was denied bail after the judge learned of a recording of Steele trying to persuade his wife to lie about the Fairfax tapes. According to prosecutors, Steele on June 13 phoned his son Rex, 22, and later Cyndi — the woman Steele once called "my rock" — from jail to get Cyndi to say it wasn't his voice in the recorded conversations with Fairfax. 

Steele faces up 10 years in prison if convicted in a trial scheduled to begin on Aug. 9.

Meanwhile, 50-year-old Ron Edwards, the former imperial wizard of the Imperial Klans of America, appeared in court in Owensboro, Ky., on May 21 to face charges of drug possession and distribution and weapons violations. His girlfriend, Christina "Chrissy" Ann Gillette, faces charges of drug possession and distribution. Each was released on $25,000 bond. 

As a result of Edwards' arrest and the police raid on his Dawson Springs, Ky., IKA compound, several prominent white nationalist groups yanked their support for Nordic Fest, an annual white nationalist Memorial Day event long hosted by Edwards at the compound. In its stead, a small racist gathering was eventually held at a location near Chicago.

Earlier, on April 22, attorney Richard Barrett, 67, a longtime white supremacist leader and founder of the Nationalist Movement, was found beaten and stabbed to death in his Pearl, Miss. home. 

Vincent McGee, a 22-year-old ex-con and neighbor of Barrett's who occasionally did yard work for him, was arrested almost immediately. McGee allegedly told authorities he attacked Barrett because Barrett made sexual advances toward him. He also gave authorities other versions of the killing.

McGee, who is African-American, has tattoos that link him to the Vice Lords — Chicago's oldest and second-largest street gang. He told authorities he didn't know about Barrett's racist background. 

Barrett was long rumored to be gay, despite a long history of denigrating gay men and lesbians. He attracted many young men through a forum for skinheads, and created "The Spirit of America Day," which for 40 years honored male high school athletes. That event has been recognized by Mississippi lawmakers.

Barrett never became a major leader in white supremacist circles, but he drew substantial media attention by organizing rallies and filing free-speech lawsuits.