Racist skinhead culture has long brimmed with violence and venom.
The racist skinhead scene in America is typified by violence -- over drugs, women, ideology, race, and just about anything else that could come up after a night of swilling beer. Since the first skinheads appeared in the United States in the early 1980s, they have periodically terrified mainly urban populations in places like Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, Salt Lake City and Boston, along with many smaller towns. But even within a world that is accustomed to violence, there have been a number of predators who are vastly more frightening than the rest. What follows are portraits of 10 of those individuals, including several who remain active and a number of others who are in prison or appear to have dropped out of the racist movement. Their stories are presented here as a cautionary tale, a graphic illustration of the kinds of people and criminal activity produced by the racist skinhead scene.
Never one for discretion, Gabriel Carafa decided to advertise his racist skinhead ideology by having "RAHOWA" (short for "Racial Holy War") tattooed across his forehead in large gothic script. The skin of Carafa's torso is riddled with crudely inked runes, swastikas, SS bolts, and the clear-cut phrases, "Race War" and "Kill Niggers."
A former member of the Latin Kings whose gang name was "King Shaggy," this convicted drug dealer has been a "governor" (the highest ranking member in New Jersey) in the neo-Nazi World Church of the Creator (now known as the Creativity Movement) and a member of The Hated, a skinhead crew active in New Jersey as well as Florida.
Carafa's hate crime record includes convictions for bias intimidation and making terroristic threats. These stemmed from an October 2002 incident in which Carafa arrived at a 7-Eleven in Seaside Heights, N.J., to find the store closed. When the store's Hindu manager refused to open the locked door, Carafa punched through the store's front window, then yelled threats and racial slurs, including "let's run this nigger over!" He served three years in prison for his crimes.
Upon his release in 2005, Carafa moved in with former cellmate Craig Orler, a fellow member of The Hated who possessed a large cache of weapons, some of them stolen. Carafa agreed to help Orler find a buyer for the guns in exchange for a split of the profits. On April 25, 2005, Carafa sold a Winchester rifle with the serial number removed for $100 to a man he believed to be a fellow white supremacist, who in fact was a federal informant. Three weeks later, Carafa called the man and offered 11 more guns for sale, quoting a price of $1,000 for seven shotguns, three rifles, and a handgun. The informant accepted.
Next, Carafa offered to sell him an M-16. Then he started talking bombs. Carafa eventually supplied the undercover operative with 60 pounds of urea, a type of chemical fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. When Carafa bragged about the urea he'd obtained being of higher quality than the fertilizer used by Timothy McVeigh, authorities decided to end the six-month undercover operation rather than run the risk of Carafa and Orler actually detonating a fertilizer bomb. Both members of The Hated were arrested and later pleaded guilty to selling guns without a federal license and possessing firearms despite prior felony convictions (Orler had past convictions for burglary and assault).
"We are pleased that this dangerous criminal is going to prison," said New Jersey Attorney General Zulima V. Farber. "This defendant's violent strain of racism and his access to firearms made him a grave threat to our communities."
Now back in prison for up to 15 years, Carafa's tattoos may prove to be a grave threat to his own safety.
Eric "The Butcher" Fairburn, 32
VINLANDER SOCIAL CLUB
Back in the 1990s, when he was also known as Eric Wolf, this tall and brawny skinhead, unmistakable for having "MURDER" tattooed in large letters across the front of his neck, was the rhythm guitarist for the Church of the Creator hate rock band RAHOWA. He also dallied in the business side of hate rock as marketing director for Resistance Records when the nation's leading racist music label was still based in Detroit.
After Michigan tax authorities raided Resistance's offices in 1997, Fairburn moved to Washington, D.C., where he went to work for Holocaust denier Willis Carto's extreme-right political advocacy organization, Liberty Lobby. He also edited the white supremacist E-mail newsletter "Wolfreign Update."
Fairburn has always exhibited what criminologists term "poor impulse control." During his tenure at Liberty Lobby, he went to the home of Willis Carto's business partner, Todd Blodgett, to collect a debt. Blodgett, who lived in a wealthy suburb in Virginia, wasn't home, so Fairburn broke into Blodgett's garage, stole a chainsaw that Blodgett had inherited from his grandfather, and cut down every single tree and shrub on Blodgett's heavily wooded property.
In 1999, the neo-Nazi lumberjack moved to Florida, where he worked as a particularly scary repo man and whiled away his off hours with Dungeons & Dragons, the popular role-playing game. In 2000, he turned up in Indiana and began associating with the newly formed Outlaw Hammerskins (OHS). In 2002, he and OHS leader Brien James founded the Hoosier State Skinheads.
That same year, after seeing the movie "Gangs of New York," Fairburn renamed himself the "Butcher" after the character in the film played by Daniel Day Lewis, William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting, a one-eyed crime lord and sadist who hates all non-whites and Irish immigrants. Fairburn also began carrying a large sledgehammer, and cultivating a reputation for unpredictable and abusive conduct, especially toward women. In one instance, he tossed a female friend's dog out of a car window in heavy traffic during an argument.
"I threw her new dog out my car window at 70 mph on I-70 westbound," Fairburn boasted in an Internet posting. "It got really fucked up and died quickly as a truck behind me nailed it with its back tires after trying to avoid it. It exploded. Great stuff."
In 2003, Fairburn relocated to Springfield, Mo., and moved in with the ex-girlfriend of Midwestern Hammerskin leader Shane McCormick. When McCormick and another Hammerskins confronted Fairburn at the woman's home, Fairburn stabbed McCormick (he survived).
Animus had already been rising between Hammerskin Nation crews, including McCormick's, and independent, regional skinhead gangs like the Hoosier State Skinheads. Fallout from the stabbing brought a bitter feud that continues to verge on open warfare. In a post to a skinhead message board in late 2003, Fairburn wrote: "To the shit talking Hammerskins out there or their leaders who mislead the other hammers under them: ... I am ready for Valhalla or prison to do what is right. ... We are sick of the lies, tired of the BS, we are calling you out: either listen to the truth or fight for your lives for the lie. YOUR CHOICE."
In 2004, Fairburn and James formed the Vinlander Social Club (see timeline). In 2005, the Vinlanders hosted representatives of independent skinhead crews from around the country at the first official Blood & Honour USA Council, which aims to create a united front to challenge the waning authority of Hammerskin Nation. At the council meeting, 15 skinheads, including Fairburn, stood in a circle and passed the "mead horn," a ritual in the racist variant of the Odinist religion. Waiting his turn, Fairburn stood with a spare mead horn slung over his left shoulder, along with his trademark sledgehammer.
Joshua David Fiedler, 26
SS GUARDIANS/UNIT 88
Now serving a 21-year prison sentence for pulling a home invasion robbery, 28-year-old Josh Fiedler recently posted an online advertisement for prison pen pals. In it, Fiedler professes his love of comic books, animals, and poetry. He makes no mention of his blood-spattered past.
From 2001 until his most recent incarceration in 2005, Fiedler was the leader of a Phoenix skinhead crew, alternately called SS Guardians and Unit 88, whose members were involved in at least two murders, numerous brutal assaults, and other acts of violence and racial intimidation that brought skinhead criminal activity in Phoenix to a level the city had not witnessed since Jimmy Miller's crew goose-stepped down Central Avenue in 1990.
Fiedler shamelessly courted the media, holding a press conference in March 2003 at a park located in a predominantly minority neighborhood where he instructed the skinheads under his command to pick up trash for the cameras and told television reporters, "We're here for the community."
The skinhead park clean-up was an attempt by Fiedler to counter the negative publicity generated by the murder of a young white man with a pacemaker who was kicked and stomped to death outside a pool hall by several of Fiedler's followers in late 2002. "My son was so disfigured the bouncer [who found him] couldn't tell what race he was. We couldn't have an open casket," said Cole Bailey Sr., the victim's father. "They kicked through bone and into temporal lobe."
Appearing at the press conference alongside Fiedler was his second-in-command, Sean Gaines, the gang's chief enforcer, who has a well-earned reputation for extreme violence. Gaines' rap sheet includes arrests for beating a Latino man over the head with a two-foot long tree branch, car theft, and beating a Jewish boy into unconsciousness. Gaines is currently awaiting trial for capital murder after allegedly acting as the ringleader in the February 2002 mutilation and murder of a drug addict suspected of stealing money from Fiedler's girlfriend. Another of Fiedler's lieutenants, Jason Shakofsky, is now awaiting trial for attempted murder for allegedly stabbing and slitting the throat of his crewmate and ex-girlfriend.
Fiedler's own criminal record stretches back to 1997, when he was arrested for possession of LSD and received probation. A short time later, he and a fellow skinhead fired more than 40 rounds from assault rifles into a fleeing car; Fiedler was convicted of felony endangerment and aggravated assault and served three years in prison. About six months after he was paroled in early 2001, Fiedler attended a bonfire where skinheads torched a Jewish star. He was arrested at the scene for violating the conditions of his release when police officers found him in possession of two handguns and a 14-inch Bowie knife.
"Mr. Fiedler is a clear, viable threat to the community," his probation officer wrote in a pre-sentencing report. "He was given counseling while in prison and also received his GED, yet he continues to violate the law."
Fiedler was released from prison once again in January 2003. Around the time of the park clean-up media stunt, he described prison as a near perfect, racially segregated environment. "Blacks with blacks, whites with whites, Hispanics with Hispanics," he told a reporter. "It's an ideal society."
Luckily for Fiedler -- not to mention the rest of the world -- he'll be enjoying that ideal society until at least 2022.
Brien James, 30
HOOSIER STATE SKINHEADS/ VINLANDER SOCIAL CLUB
Even in the violent world of racist skinhead subculture, there are thugs, and there are thugs. Brien James, co-founder of the Vinlander Social Club, is a thug's thug. In the opinion of neo-Nazi activist and longtime James antagonist Bill White, the beefy tattoo shop owner from Indiana is "nuts and violent -- a joke you want to keep away from you because you know he's going to do so something to bring the cops over."
Like punch and stomp a man to the brink of death at a party for refusing to seig heil, as James did in Indianapolis in 2000. "I have been tried for attempted murder and multiple batteries and hate crimes," James boasted years later. "My JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] file is a mile long."
James began his gang career young, when he and some childhood friends in Knightstown, Ind., formed a gang called the Knightstown Boys. In his late teens, James became involved with the Klan before helping to found the Outlaw Hammerskins in 1999 in the first direct challenge to the authority of Hammerskin Nation.
Online, James uses the screen name "Hando2000," an apparent reference to the character Hando, played by Russell Crowe in the 1992 cult film classic, "Romper Stomper." In the movie, Hando is the leader of a racist skinhead gang in Australia. Like Hando, James has a reputation for trying to exert total control over whatever skinhead crew he's running with by acting as the "brains" behind the outfit, as well a good portion of the brawn. Invariably so far, the demands of his huge ego have led James to eventually split from his current crew to form a new gang, with himself as its self-appointed leader.
In 2002, James left the Outlaw Hammerskins to found the Hoosier State Skinheads along with Eric "The Butcher" Fairburn.
In October of 2005, James helped convene a "Blood & Honour" coalition of 17 white supremacist groups in yet another direct challenge to the de facto national leadership of the Hammerskins. This challenge was also reflected in the creation by James, Fairburn and others of the Vinlander Social Club, a coalition of regional skinhead crews -- including the Hoosier State Skinheads, the Ohio State Skinheads, and the Keystone State Skinheads -- that do not recognize the authority of Hammerskin Nation.
Tensions between the Vinlanders and other neo-Nazi groups exploded in Kentucky at last May's hate-rock festival known as Nordic Fest. The violence was sparked by Missouri National Socialist Movement member Steven Boswell, who started a speech touting NSM accomplishments by telling his audience that the white supremacist movement could not succeed "by belonging to a social club where all we do is drink and shoot the shit every Saturday night."
James and fellow members of the Vinlander Social Club took the comment personally. They rushed Boswell immediately after his speech and beat him in front of his wife and young daughter. Other NSM members were attacked as well in the melee that ensued. NSM member Gary Robinson described his comrade Austin Ibarra's face as looking "like hamburger covered in bootprints."
Notch one more party wrecked by Brien James and company.
Randal Lee Krager, 32
At 6-foot, 2-inches and 240 pounds, with "FEAR" tattooed across the knuckles of his right hand and a large swastika stamped on his thick neck, Volksfront founder Randal Krager is an imposing figure whose continuing, heavy influence on skinheads in the Pacific Northwest has deep roots.
Krager has been involved in the skinhead subculture since at least 1989. That year, when he was 15, Krager was arrested along with several other skinheads and charged with racial intimidation for allegedly assaulting three teenagers near a park in Portland, Ore. During the attack, assailants pummeled a Hispanic girl in the face while shouting, "Why aren't you white?"
Krager was sent to a juvenile detention center.
The next year, he attended the civil trial of White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger -- who was being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for his role in encouraging the skinhead murder of a black man in Portland -- and told a reporter that Metzger was a "cool guy ... one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet."
By the time Krager turned 18, police had encountered him 28 times.
That year, 1992, Krager was sentenced to 27 months in prison for putting an African-American man into a coma with a single punch. During sentencing proceedings, Krager reportedly shouted "Fucking Jew pig!" at court officials.
Krager's white supremacist beliefs were reinforced in prison. While inside, he networked with skinheads outside, laying the groundwork for his Volksfront neo-Nazi gang. Krager assumed leadership of Volksfront immediately upon his release in October 1994.
But Krager didn't stay out of prison for long. Weeks after his release, he called a local anti-racist skinhead and threatened to kill him. Krager was arrested and pleaded guilty to first-degree intimidation. He served 14 months and was released in early 1995.
Led by Krager, Volksfront maintained a highly visible presence in Portland until 2001, when the gang essentially went underground, citing "police and governmental pressure" to explain its disappearance.
Volksfront resurfaced in 2001 and, to the amazement of many who knew Krager, officially renounced violence. "[K]icking in someone's head will not make them our political allies. ... We know that violence created by stupidity or machismo will and can destroy organizations," read a notice on Volksfront's website.
In a blatant and brutal violation of this supposed policy -- a policy that appears to have been a public relations gambit more than anything else -- Volksfront's Washington state chapter leader, Kurtis William Monschke, joined three other racist skinheads in 2003 in beating to death a homeless man in Tacoma using baseball bats and rocks. But this mindless violence hardly destroyed Volksfront. By 2004, Krager's gang has chapters in seven states.
That January at Aryan Fest, a white power festival in Arizona hosted and policed by Volksfront, representatives of Krager claimed to have purchased five acres of land in Oregon as the beginnings of a white homeland. Although Krager officially stepped down from his leadership position later in 2004, today he continues to control the group from the shadows. Clark Martell, 44
CHICAGO AREA SKINHEADS
In April 1987, six members of the Chicago Area Skinheads (CASH), one of the first racist skinhead gangs formed in the United States, busted into the apartment of a 20-year-old woman who'd quit the gang, and who the CASH skinheads suspected of having black friends. Once inside, the racist skinheads, including CASH founder Clark Martell, who was then 26, pistol-whipped the former skinbyrd, sprayed mace in her eyes, and painted a swastika and "Race Traitor" on her wall with her blood.
That assault came in the midst of an 18-month crime spree by Martell and 15 to 20 followers that also included assaults on six Hispanic women, swastikas painted on three synagogues, and numerous incidents of vandalism to Jewish-owned business.
Martell, who hailed from Blue Island, Ill., about 20 miles south of Chicago, was a violent neo-Nazi years before he was a skinhead gang leader. In 1979, when Martell was a member of the American Nazi Party, he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempting to firebomb the Cicero, Ill., home of a Hispanic couple and their five children. He served 30 months.
In the mid-1980s, Martell began performing around Chicago with his punk rock band Romantic Violence. Starting in 1985 or 1986, Martell passed out American Nazi Party newsletters between his band's sets, along with copies of National Socialist Skinhead magazine, for which Martell was a cartoonist. Martell corralled a following among young racist skins eager to copycat their British brethren, but his neo-Nazi recruiting drive also caught the attention of Chicago's numerous "traditional," non-racist skinheads, including a number of African Americans (according to Chicago punk lore, the city's skinhead scene was founded by black traditional skinheads).
Enjoying the advantage of vastly superior numbers, non-racist-turned-anti-racist crews such as Skinheads of Chicago (SHOC) routinely ganged up on CASH skins at shows and in the streets. "They grew out of what we are -- the punk scene -- so it's up to us to combat them," a member of the Chicago Anti-Racist Action (ARA) crew told the Chicago Tribune. "We have more responsibility than anybody else to bring them down."
By the time Martell and the other five CASH skins were arrested for the gruesome April 1987 attack on a former member, CASH had been more or less beaten into submission by Chicago's anti-racist skins. But Martell had already proven he was ahead of his time. When he first started recruiting for CASH, there were likely fewer than 200 racist skinheads in the U.S. By 1989, when he was convicted of home invasion, aggravated battery, and robbery and sentenced to 11 years in prison, there were more than 3,000.
Martell was released in 1992 after an appellate court overturned a different, prior conviction on which his lengthy sentence was based. In 1997, new Martell cartoons appeared in the racist skinhead periodical Right as Reina. That was the last the skinhead world heard of Clark Martell, though he's been neither forgiven nor forgotten by anti-racist skins in Chicago and elsewhere. "I can clearly remember the fearless leader of CASH writing all sorts of letters to punk and alternative magazines sucking up to black people once he spent about six months in [prison]," a punk rocker using the screen name SeattleTroll posted to the online punk rock discussion forum finntroll.net earlier this year. "Of course, he still got his ass kicked by every Irish SHOC skin when he got out of jail."
Kenneth Mieske, 41
EAST SIDE WHITE PRIDE
The first inkling of the fury that lurked inside Kenneth Mieske came when he was not quite 3. One day, when his adoptive mother sent the boy to time out in his bedroom after a minor incident, the diaper-clad tot took less than two minutes to strip the bed of sheets, tear down the curtains and upend a chest of drawers. The toddler's strength stunned her, as did the force of his anger. It was a rage, Mieske's mother told author Elinor Langer, that would only build with time.
As Mieske later wrote in his poem, "Senseless Violence": "Victims all around me/I feel nothing but hate/Bashing their brains in/Is my only trade/Senseless violence is the only thing I know/Piles of corpses never ending, watch them grow/Kill my victims for pleasure and for fun/Beat them over the head. Shoot them with my gun/Line them up against a wall. Shoot them. Watch them die/I love to hear the agony, they vomit, scream, and cry."
As a young adolescent in Portland, Ore., Mieske got into Satanism and began using drugs. A friend later said that roughhousing with Mieske was "like playing with a Doberman." In 1984, he began playing in local death metal bands. A fellow musician gave him the prophetic nickname "Ken Death."
In 1986, when he was 21, Mieske went to prison for burglary. Inside, he immersed himself in the hate-filled theology of Christian Identity. By the time he was released in fall of 1987, the skinhead scene in Portland (and the nation) was on the rise, with established gangs whose numbers were growing. Mieske joined East Side White Pride (ESWP), an affiliate of Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance (WAR). He also became lead vocalist of the death metal band, Machine. In September of that year, Metzger sent Dave Mazzella, vice president of WAR's youth arm, to Portland to spur ESWP on to commit brutal assaults, a tactic that culminated in the infamous November 1988 murder of Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw.
Mieske and two other ESWP skinheads were drinking beer and party-hopping on a Saturday night when they turned onto a street they found partially blocked by another car. Seraw, a graduate student, was being dropped off by two friends who were also Ethiopian immigrants. The skins begin yelling at the other car to move, flashing their headlights. When they realized the race of those blocking their path, the night took an irrevocable turn. The Ethiopians and the skins both got out of their cars. Mieske smashed the taillights and right rear window of the Ethiopians' car with a baseball bat. Then he brought the bat down on Seraw's head. Seraw crumpled to the ground, where Mieske hit him again, then again, splitting his skull and killing him.
All three of the ESWP skins — Mieske, Kyle Brewster (see blotter) and Steven Strasser -- were arrested and later pleaded guilty to murder, assault, and racial intimidation. Mieske was sentenced to life in prison. In a subsequent civil suit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a jury returned a $12.5 million verdict against Metzger and WAR for encouraging ESWP members to commit violence.
Mieske will be eligible for parole in 2018. Racist skinhead crews and neo-Nazi websites still honor him as a "Prisoner of War." James Lee Miller, 33
On Oct. 9, 1990, as 17-year-old Jimmy "Soda Pop" Miller awaited trial as an adult in Phoenix, Ariz., on six counts of arson, robbery, and assault, a state-appointed psychologist petitioned the court on Miller's behalf.
"He did not impress me as a rabidly delinquent or antisocial individual," Kevin Buckley argued after meeting with Miller. "He certainly does not have the character of a leader."
That remarkable assessment might have amused Miller's minions in the Arizona Hammerskins, and no doubt would have surprised the targets of his violence. Superior Court Judge Gregory H. Martin didn't buy it, and when Miller was convicted, Judge Martin sentenced him to five years in prison. Thus ended the explosive first phase of Miller's career as a skinhead gang leader.
Jimmy Miller's association with the Arizona Hammerskins had begun in the fall of 1989, around the time he dropped out of Scottsdale Alternative School. Within a year, he was second-in-command in the organization — the right-hand man of the skinhead leader and Tom Metzger protégé, Case Colcord.
Miller and Colcord reveled in organizing high-profile media stunts that doubled as recruiting tools. Together, they led demonstrations in which they displayed Nazi banners and chanted racist and anti-Semitic slurs. On Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the two marched down Central Avenue in Phoenix, chanting, "Nigger, nigger, nigger! Out, out, out!" On Adolf Hitler's birthday, they marched in front of a local synagogue brandishing Nazi insignia.
A month after the Martin Luther King march, Miller began the rampage that finally landed him in prison.
In February of 1990, Miller attempted to firebomb the home of Jason "Fishbone" Mosely, a teenage member of a rival, anti-racist skinhead group known as the SHARPs, for Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. But Miller had the wrong condominium. Fortunately for the elderly couple inside, Miller's homemade bomb bounced off the window screen. Prior to the bombing, Miller had called Mosley's mother late at night and threatened to kill her and her "mongrel" son (Mosley was of mixed race).
Soon after that attack, Miller and a small group of Hammerskins visited Sean "Warbaby" Cooper at his grandparents' home. As punishment for leaving the Hammerskins -- and out of fear that he would start another group and challenge Hammerskin primacy -- they beat Cooper and sliced away his crossed-hammer tattoo with an X-Acto knife. Six days after this brutal assault, Miller led a boot party against Kaipo Stant, another SHARP skin, and stole Stant's Doc Martens boots.
In May, Miller attempted a second firebombing at the home of anti-racist skinheads. This explosive successfully cleared the window of the Phoenix apartment, but the two targets escaped to safety.
Miller was arrested that September. During his trial he claimed to be reformed and said he was eager to have his tattoos surgically removed. (A SHARP skin who testified at his trial tauntingly suggested that Miller was afraid he'd become somebody's prison "cupcake.") Despite these promises and the appeals of psychologists like Kevin Buckley, Miller was tried as an adult and convicted.
After serving two years of his sentence, Miller was released on parole in April of 1993.
Against the rules of his parole, and despite the fact that he was living with his grandmother, the young ex-con soon resumed leadership of the Arizona Hammerskins. During the mid-1990s, he expanded his role to become a leader of the Hammerskin Nation, his group's national organization. He also distributed a skinhead newsletter to juvenile detention facilities throughout the country.
By the turn of the millennium, Miller seemed to have faded from the skinhead scene. A 2004 posting on the message board at Skinheadz.com referred to Miller as "one time leader of the Arizona Hammerskins," and grouped the once fearsome Miller with "other old time skins." Richard Myers, 32
AMERICAN FRONT/CONFEDERATE HAMMERSKINS
In 1990, when he was only 17, Richard "Richie" Myers was named the Florida state leader of the American Front (AF), a nationwide white power skinhead gang that was started in the mid-1980s in San Francisco. The five founders included David Lynch, who later moved to Port St. Lucie, Fla., to become AF's Eastern States Commander, and Bob Heick, aka "Nazi Bob," one of the skinheads involved in the infamous brawl on the set of The Geraldo Rivera Show in November 1988.
Lynch and Myers were the driving force behind a thriving racist skinhead scene in Florida in 1990, as the American Front systematically absorbed local crews statewide and engaged in blood feuds with anti-racist skinheads.
When Myers discovered in October 1990 that AF's North Florida "director of regional operations" was secretly Jewish, he laid a trap at a skinhead party house in Daytona Beach rented by Fran Mercuri. (Mercuri was then Florida chairman for Tom Metzger's neo-Nazi organization, White Aryan Resistance, which worked hand-in-glove with American Front.) Myers ordered the North Florida officer, John Daly, to attend a mandatory officers meeting at the beach house. After Daly arrived, Myers and six other AF skinheads pummeled and kicked him while one shouted, "Die, Jew boy, die!" They then attempted to drown him in the surf.
Daly's attackers later testified that they watched Daly's body begin to float out with the tide, then left, excitedly discussing plans to get their spider web tattoos, indicating they had killed an enemy of the skinhead movement. But Daly was not quite dead, and after they had gone, he dragged himself ashore and later drove to a hospital, where he reported the attack to police.
Myers was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, and aggravated battery under Florida's then-new hate crimes law, which enhances sentences for violent crimes motivated by racial or religious bigotry.
During his trial, when Myers was asked to raise his right hand, he instead threw up a Hitler salute. Tried as an adult, Myers was convicted in 1991 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Not long after his release, Myers soon re-immersed himself in skinhead activity. He attended a St. Patrick's Day hate rock festival organized by the Confederate Hammerskins in March 2002, and now appears to be leading the Florida Hammerskins chapter. He is also once again associating with David Lynch, who crawled out of the woodwork last year, apparently to relaunch American Front. Earlier this year, two Salt Lake City skinheads in their early 20s pleaded guilty to randomly attacking a black man as part of an American Front initiation.
Jessica Nelson, 31
A dirty blonde with glacial eyes and an equally icy temperament, Jessica Nelson has a sweet smile that spreads across her face like Novocain.
Born in Huntington Beach, Calif., Nelson moved to Arizona when she was in the eighth grade. She enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school. After leaving the military, she had a son (who is now 13), developed an on-again, off-again methamphetamine addiction, and starting having trouble with the law, racking up a felony forgery conviction, a DUI, and misdemeanor charges for making false statements.
In May 2001, Nelson became romantically involved with Phoenix skinhead leader Joshua Fielder, who worked in a tattoo shop she frequented. When Fiedler was sent back to prison for violating his probation in the fall of 2001, he arranged for Nelson and her son to stay, rent-free, at the home of two of his tattoo clients, Bruce and Marie Mathes, setting in motion the chain of events that would lead to one of the most brutal skinhead murders in recent memory.
Not long after Nelson moved into the home, Bruce's brother, Mark, a middle-aged drug addict and petty criminal who had fled to Arizona to dodge a warrant in Washington state, also joined the household.
Nelson worked as a security guard, saving money in anticipation of Fiedler's release. One morning in late February 2002, she discovered an envelope with $600 in it had gone missing. Suspecting Mark Mathes — who was not home at the time -- she called Sean Gaines, Fiedler's second-in-command, who told her to call back as soon as Mathes returned, according to police reports and transcripts of Nelson's later accounts to homicide investigators.
That evening, sometime after 9 p.m., Mathes came in the back patio door while Nelson was outside smoking. She offered Mathes a beer, snuck inside to call Gaines, and then returned to the patio, where she petted a cat, made small talk, and waited.
Soon enough, Gaines and two other Unit 88 skinheads -- longtime Fiedler associate Patrick Bearup and "fresh cut" Jeremy Johnson -- entered the yard swiftly, carrying a shotgun, a large knife, and a baseball bat, respectively.
According to police reports, Gaines pointed the shotgun at Mathes, shouting, "You fucked up!"
Under orders from Gaines, Johnson began beating Mathes about the legs and back with the baseball bat. After Mathes fell, Gaines allegedly bashed him in the head with the shotgun's butt, knocking him unconscious. The four skinheads dragged Mathes into an alley and lifted him into the trunk of a car.
They drove to a remote area about an hour north of Phoenix known as Swastika Mine.
"What are we going to do with him?" police say Gaines asked Nelson.
"You know what we have to do," she replied.
Nelson and Bearup ripped Mathes' clothes from his body. Noticing a cheap ring on one of his fingers, Nelson tried to slip it off, but the finger was too swollen, so Bearup allegedly helped her cut off the finger using wire clippers while Mathes screamed. Gaines then allegedly smashed Mathes head with the shotgun butt, repeatedly, until he fell silent.
The four skinheads then dragged Mathes to the side of an embankment and threw him over a guardrail. Hoping to prevent identification through dental records, police say, Gaines pumped two shotgun blasts into Mathes' face.
Johnson was arrested on Sept. 10, 2003, and confessed. Nelson, Bearup and Gaines were arrested the following day. When police showed her Mark Mathes' ring during one interrogation session, Jessica Nelson sat back in her chair and cackled.
Nelson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of kidnapping (as did Johnson) in exchange for her testimony against Gaines and Bearup, who remain jailed awaiting trial for capital murder.