Cold-case homicide investigators from North Carolina will travel to Kansas City in the hopes of interviewing accused triple murderer Frazier Glenn Miller about an earlier triple homicide and arson at a Shelby, N.C., adult bookstore.
Miller, 73, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, was arrested April 13 and is charged with three hate-crime murders outside two Jewish centers in Overland Park, Kan.
In the past when he has faced the prospect of criminal prosecution, Miller – the founder of both the now-defunct Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriots Party – has agreed to cooperate with investigators and prosecutors in exchange for leniency.
The news site Raw Story reported last week that “Miller should have been considered the prime suspect in” the Jan. 17, 1987, robbery-murders at the Shelby III Adult Bookstore.
Just two months after that unsolved crime, Miller went “underground” for 44 days to avoid arrest on a criminal contempt citation that came after the Southern Poverty Law Center successfully sued him for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and intimidating African Americans.
The tiny community of Shelby, about 30 miles from Charlotte, is of significance to Miller, he wrote in his autobiography, because it’s where his neo-Nazi, paramilitary White Patriots Party staged its first large rally in April 1985. At the time, Miller wrote, he lived about 200 miles away in Angier, N.C.
At this point, the only known link between Miller and the unsolved homicides in Shelby is his role as a prosecution witness in a 1989 trial against former White Patriots Party follower, Douglas Sheets.
Miller’s testimony in that state murder trial came one year after he was a prosecution witnesses in the Justice Department’s failed attempt to convict 14 other white supremacists in Fort Smith, Ark., of plotting the overthrow of the U.S. government. Miller entered the federal Witness Protection Program after testifying in that case and was given the name Frazier Glenn Cross. He moved to Iowa and became a truck driver.
After the month-long jury trial in North Carolina in 1989, that included Miller’s testimony, Sheets was acquitted of involvement in the murders at the business that attracted a gay and bisexual clientele, Sheet’s defense attorney Leslie A. Farfour told Hatewatch today.
“The only way I think he [Miller] will be linked to these unsolved murders is if he confesses,” Farfour told Hatewatch.
While defending Sheets in the 1989 death penalty case, Farfour said he learned that “no physical evidence” was found at the crime scene. The attorney’s defense of Sheets included providing alibi testimony that he was in Kansas or Nebraska at the time of the murders and, because of a snow storm, it would have been impossible for him to have traveled to Shelby, N.C. It’s not quite clear where Miller claims to have been at the time of the triple murders at the bookstore.
“There’s no physical evidence against anyone,” Farfour said. “The only evidence presented at trial was Glenn Miller saying he had heard them bragging about it.”
“I did not think or feel he was a particularly strong witness.”
Retired Cleveland County District Attorney William C. Young, who prosecuted Sheets, said he traveled to White Plains, N.Y., to do a pretrial interview of Miller before putting him on the witness stand as the chief prosecution witness.
“What I recall is that Glenn Miller somehow came forward and said both Sheets and [Jack] Jackson told him how the murders occurred,” Young told Hatewatch after being contacted at his home in North Carolina.
“He [Miller] was able to give some detail to the crime,” Young said. “We called it the ‘dirty bookstore,’ and this place had a reputation as a gay hangout. The white supremacists hated gays just as much as they did blacks.”
The former prosecutor said at the time he presented the death penalty case to a jury, he believed Miller and had no reason to suspect he may have been personally involved. “I had to believe somebody and I believed Miller, what he was telling me – rightly or wrongly.”
Sheets made incriminating statements during conversations with other Cleveland County inmates who testified during the trial, Young said.
Another witnesses, located and interviewed by ATF agents, told investigators he saw Sheets and Jackson in neighboring Gaston County, N.C., a day before the murders, the prosecutor said. But that witness, who was subpoenaed to testify at the trial, disappeared and didn’t testify because he “was petrified of the white supremacists,” Young said.
The prosecutor said he has no way of knowing whether that witness specifically was asked about Miller being in Gaston County with Sheets and Jackson or if investigators actually confirmed Miller’s whereabouts at the time of the arson-murders.
“At this point, I still don’t think he did it because I still can’t put him here,” Young said.
He questioned whether reopening the case now might be a “waste of taxpayers’ money,” but added: “That’s not my call to make. It’s up to the sheriff’s office, and more power to them.”
Miller and Sheets, along with Jack Jackson and Tony Wydra, were arrested April 30, 1987, in a rented trailer in Springfield, Mo., by federal marshals who found a large cache of weapons.
The attorney said the prosecutions’ overview presented to the jury was that Sheets and the others who carried out the murders and arson were driven by a white supremacy agenda that says such adult bookstores are the evil and often linked to Jews.
Another neo-Nazi group, The Order, was headed by Robert Mathews, who personally gave Miller $200,000 – part of which he used to hire Sheets to promote the White Patriots Party. One of the first crimes committed by Mathews and three other members of The Order was the Oct. 28, 1983, robbery of an adult bookstore in Spokane. That robbery only netted $369, so the domestic terrorists decided to fund their attempt to start a race war by robbing armored cars.
Four years later, after the murders and arson in Shelby, the building was refurbished but never re-opened as an adult bookstore, Farfour said. The building was just razed a few months ago as part of a highway expansion project, he said.
Farfour said his files in the death-penalty case routinely were destroyed 15 years after the trial and acquittal of Sheets, who has since died. The Shelby attorney, who is still practicing law, said he has not been contacted by the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office homicide detectives who have re-opened the triple homicide case.
Those detectives “will go to Kansas soon to interview” to interview Miller, Cleveland County Sheriff Sheriff Alan Norman told the Charlotte Observer, the newspaper reported in today’s editions.
The murders occurred after three masked men entered the business just outside Shelby and ordered the store’s four customers and a clerk to the floor, and then shot them, execution style, in the back of their heads, Raw Story reported.
The robbers took cash from a register and ignited fuses attached to plastic gallon jugs of gasoline. Three men, Travis Melton, Kenneth Godfrey and Paul Weston, died from gunshot wounds, but two others, James Parris and John Anthony, managed to escape, wounded, before the bookstore was destroyed by fire.