Hatewatch

Minuteman Co-Founder Accused of Threatening Family

Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman movement and a principal nativist leader, threatened to kill his wife and family last year, according to a petition filed in Maricopa County Court in mid-April by his estranged spouse, Alena Simcox.

According to Phoenix New Times’ Steve Lemons, who broke the story yesterday, a Maricopa County court commissioner granted the petition April 16 and ordered Simcox to remain 200 yards away from Alena, their two children, and Alena’s child from a previous relationship. The order prohibits Simcox from possessing, receiving or purchasing firearms or ammunition.

The filing describes several violent incidents, Lemons reports. On Nov. 29, 2009, Alena alleges, Simcox was “drinking” and threatened her “with a gun. Repeatedly pointed it at me, saying he was going to kill me, and my kids, and the police. Kids were present and saw him. Very verbally abusive to me throughout the incident.”

On Aug. 22, 2009, Alena alleges, Simcox again confronted her with a weapon: “On our wedding anniversary, he was drinking and angery [sic]. Got a revolver gun and loaded with kids present. Then proceeded to ask me to ‘shoot him.’ I said ‘no,’ so then he said he would shoot entire family and cops.”

In late April, Alena Simcox file a petition for divorce from Simcox after five years of marriage. She was temporarily granted legal custody of the children, pending resolution of the divorce. A reply to the court, filed by Simcox’s lawyer John Acer, denies the allegations of domestic violence. The two were married in late 2005, when Simcox was 44 and Alena was 25.

This isn’t the first time Simcox has been accused of violent and bizarre behavior by a spouse. In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed that Simcox’s second wife, Kim Dunbar, had filed an emergency appeal in September 2001 to obtain full custody of their teenage son because she feared that Simcox had suffered a mental breakdown and was dangerous.

In a sworn affidavit, Dunbar testified that throughout their 10-year marriage, Simcox was prone to sudden, violent rages. “He once took a knife from the kitchen and threatened to kill himself,” she testified. “When he was angry, he broke furniture, car windows, he banged his head against the wall repeatedly and punched things.”

Dunbar also said that when their son was 4 years old, Simcox slapped him so hard that a mark remained on his face for two days. Another time, she testified, she grabbed her young son in her arms and jumped out a window because Simcox was throwing furniture at them.

In addition, in 2005, Simcox’s first wife Deborah Crews told the SPLC that Simcox “tried to molest our daughter when he was intoxicated... . When she ran out, he tried to say he was just giving her a leg massage and she got the wrong idea.” At the time, Simcox refused to comment, telling SPLC, “My personal life has nothing to do with” the Minutemen and the SPLC was trying to discredit the movement.

The Minuteman movement, which Simcox co-founded with Jim Gilchrist, was a big media hit in 2005, when volunteers from across the country traveled to Cochise County, Ariz., for a “border watch” event. Simcox and Gilchrist soon split, and Simcox for several years headed a group he christened the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC). Though it came in with a bang, Simcox’s organization disbanded with a whimper this past March when Carmen Mercer, a defendant in the Arizona attorney general’s recent lawsuit alleging a property tax scam, shut it down. MCDC had been plagued by infighting and legal difficulties.