For several years I had the privilege of being the editor for reporter Todd Heywood with the Michigan Messenger. He’s now broken a potentially huge story about Frazier Glenn Miller, the former KKK leader who allegedly killed three people at a pair of Jewish centers in Kansas last weekend. Turns out he may have played a role in a triple homicide of young gay men in North Carolina in the 80s as well.
Sometime shortly before midnight on January 17, 1987, three masked men entered the Shelby III Adult Bookstore located outside Shelby, North Carolina, a business known for attracting a gay clientele. The men ordered the store’s four customers and a clerk to the floor, and then shot them, execution style, in the back of their heads. The masked intruders took cash from the register and rigged up plastic gallon jugs filled with gasoline and detonation fuses, planning to burn the bookstore to the ground.
Of the five victims, only three – Travis Melton, 19, Kenneth Godfrey, 29, and Paul Weston — died from the gunshot wounds. Two others — James Parris and John Anthony — were still alive. The bullet that wounded Parris exited his left eye socket, but he and Anthony both managed to get out of the building while it was catching fire…
Then in April 1987, authorities turned their eyes to the White Patriot Party. The WPP was founded in 1985 by Frazier Glenn Miller after Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center obtained a federal court order prohibiting Miller from organizing militia training with the Carolina Knights of the Klu Klux Klan. Dees and the federal government then obtained evidence that Miller had violated the terms of the federal consent agreement. In a federal trial in 1986, Miller was convicted of contempt of court. He was sentenced to one year in prison, with six months suspended. While his case was on appeal, Miller went on the lam…
Miller had declared war on “ni**ers, Jews, queers, assorted mongrels, white-race traitors and despicable informants,” and suggested awarding points as a kind of bounty system. “Ni**ers (1), other assorted mongrels (Mexicans, etc) (2), Jews (10), influential Jews (25), Queers (5), White Race traitors (10), Scalawags (10), Carpetbaggers (10), Abortionists (20), Race traitor politicians and Judges (50), Informants and government witnesses (50), Morris Segilman Dees (888).”…One person Miller testified against was Doug Sheets, in a 1989 trial for the Shelby III bookstore killing.
Prosecutors had come to believe that Sheets and Jackson, two of Miller’s “Declaration of War” partners, had committed the murders at the adult bookstore as a result of their extremist views.
Sheets was tried in April and May 1989, and Jackson’s trial was scheduled to take place once it was done. News clippings of the time report that it was known Miller was testifying against former members of his White Patriot Party as part of a plea deal.
Miller told the court that Sheets and Jackson had told him they had committed the killings in Shelby. Three other witnesses also said they’d heard Sheets talk about the killings while they were incarcerated with him in prison. One was a former White Patriot Party member who had abandoned the Miller group in the Ozarks, allegedly after hearing the story of the bookstore murders from Sheets and Jackson. That witness, Robert Stoner, received $5,000 from the federal government for his role in the indictments against Sheets and Jackson, as well as entry into the witness protection program after a bounty was put on his head by members of the Tennessee KKK.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that gloves found in the weapons cache from the April 1987 Missouri raid were linked by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to fibers found on the plastic jugs used to torch the bookstore.
But prosecutors couldn’t put Sheets or Jackson at the scene. In fact, they had alibis that put them in other states around the time of the bookstore killings. Sheets had evidence that he’d been in Kansas the day before the killings, and a blizzard that struck made it virtually impossible for him to have been in North Carolina to commit the crime.
As the trial went on, Sheets and his attorneys pointed out that it was Glenn Miller who didn’t have an alibi for the night of January 17, 1987.
On the stand, Sheets said that Miller had told him that “he damn sure made a big boom in Shelby.” Miller, meanwhile, in pretrial statements had referred to a feature in the bookstore – a two-way mirror – that suggested he might have taken part in the killings himself.
There’s more to the story, written by Todd and Matt Comer, and more investigation to be done. But there’s a lot of smoke here and there may well be fire too.