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For His Wife, Authorities Say, He Wanted a Head

Authorities say Keith Kallstrom came to murder fellow Identity pastor James Wickstrom and fetch back his wayward wife. Kallstrom denied any intended violence.

Adherents of Christian Identity follow a theology that is admittedly bizarre. The Bible, to them, is the history of the white race. Jews are the biological descendants of Satan, who impregnated Eve in the Garden of Eden. But Identity practitioners also hold to a highly mainstream view of adultery: It's wrong.

So it's not hard to understand the feelings of Keith Eugene Kallstrom, a long-time Christian Identity preacher from Broken Arrow, Okla. Two years ago, an old Kallstrom pal, Michigan Identity pastor James Wickstrom, ran off with Kallstrom's wife after meeting her during one of his sermons. The couple eventually moved to the area around Rhodes, Mich., where Wickstrom, the "world chaplain" of a splinter group from the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, insisted to others on the radical right that Kathleen Kallstrom was merely his "nanny" and "housekeeper."

Now Keith Kallstrom, a friend of Wickstrom's for 30 years, didn't just fall off the turnip truck. After his wife left, he wrote her letters begging her to come home and condemning Wickstrom. "The wages of sin are death," he roared. He fumed about the "fornication" that he said God prohibited between unmarried people.

Kathy Kallstrom responded by obtaining a restraining order.

Her husband came unglued. A year after her departure, Keith Kallstrom was so angry that he talked about it to the Intelligence Report. "You do not stand behind a pulpit and preach the Tenth Commandment, 'Thou shalt not covet,' and then take another man's wife," Kallstrom fulminated. "You do not twist the word of God. You do not covet other people's blessings!"

This summer, Kallstrom apparently boiled over. On July 5, federal officials allege, he said that he was going to cut Wickstrom's head off and place it on his mantle. On Aug. 2, he was arrested in Michigan, after driving all the way from Oklahoma in a pickup that contained four homemade hand grenades, an assault rifle, a shotgun, a 9 mm pistol, a ski mask and a pair of handcuffs. A customer at a gas station saw Kallstrom locking and unlocking the handcuffs on his own wrists and called police to report what seemed to be suspicious activity.

Authorities say Kallstrom came to murder Wickstrom and fetch his wayward wife. Kallstrom denied any intended violence.

For his part, Wickstrom, widely known for his apoplectic exhortations to murder Jews and government officials, had a rather uncharacteristic response to the arrest, showering grateful praise on the FBI and the Michigan State Police, who, the two-time felon enthused, "have done an outstanding job."