Accused Jewish centers gunman F. Glenn Miller Jr. is dying of lung disease, friends say

06/28/2014 3:31 PM

06/28/2014 5:48 PM

The man charged in the April shooting rampage that left three people dead outside two Jewish facilities in Overland Park is dying of a severe lung disease, his friends have told The Kansas City Star.

F. Glenn Miller Jr., an avowed white supremacist who faces charges that include capital murder, has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, according to some who have known him for years. The progressive disease, which has no cure, blocks airflow and makes breathing difficult.

“He’s dying now, there’s no doubt,” said Craig Cobb, a neo-Nazi who made national headlines when he starting buying plots in a small North Dakota town in 2011 and later announced plans to turn it into an all-white hamlet.

Cobb said he had talked to Miller regularly on the phone, including the day before the April 13 shootings, and exchanged letters with Miller from jail in Mercer County, N.D., where Cobb had been held after being charged with terrorizing some of the town’s residents last year.

“He told me in January in a letter that he had one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel,” Cobb told The Star last week.

Maj. Doug Baker, administrator of the Johnson County Central Booking facility in Olathe, where Miller is being held, said he could not discuss details of an inmate’s medical condition. But he confirmed that Miller has been housed full time in the center’s infirmary since May 30.

The infirmary is for inmates who require intensive monitoring and medical supervision because of health issues, Baker said.

In the court appearances Miller has made since the shootings, he looked frail and was transported in a wheelchair.

Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., faces charges of capital murder, first-degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and criminal discharge of a firearm. He is accused of killing a 69-year-old doctor and his 14-year-old grandson outside the Jewish Community Center and a 53-year-old mother of three outside the nearby Village Shalom senior living facility.

Will Williams, a white nationalist from Tennessee who has known Miller for more than two decades, said Miller told him earlier this year that he was extremely ill.

“We had talked on the phone, and I knew he was in bad health,” Williams said. “COPD is what he told me. He told me that he could hardly walk to the mailbox.”

Williams said Miller was a smoker but quit a couple of years ago. He said Miller told him in a recent phone call from jail that his health had deteriorated after he was arrested and placed in protective custody, which he referred to as “the hole.” Miller complained that his doctor, who Miller said was black, had ordered that he stop receiving his medication every three hours and that it instead be given to him every five hours.

“In his first call, he said he’d lost 9 pounds in the first seven days,” Williams said. “He said this doctor deliberately cut his meds to where he had three near-death experiences.”

Williams said Miller told him that he filed multiple grievances with the jail, accusing the doctor of trying to murder him by withholding his medication.

“The second call, he was in the infirmary, and he got his meds and was in lots better spirits,” Williams said.

Baker said the jail has a grievance process for inmates who have concerns. To date, he said, Miller has not filed any formal grievances.

“He’s being provided the necessary medical care that’s provided to all detainees,” Baker said. “The doctor or nurses don’t ever go in his cell alone. They’re always escorted in by a deputy, and the deputy stays with them.”

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and the main cause of the disease is tobacco smoking. The two most common conditions that make up the disease are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The disease impairs airflow in and out of the bronchial tubes.

Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, a chronic cough, lack of energy and weight loss. Damage to the lungs is irreversible, but treatment and lifestyle changes can slow its progress.

Shortly before Cobb’s arrest in North Dakota last November, he attended a National Socialist Movement rally in Kansas City. He said Miller, of Aurora, Mo., didn’t come to the Nov. 9 event because he was too weak to travel.

Cobb said that when he would phone Miller from jail, “I would try to call him only in the mornings because he said that’s his best time, when he’s had his coffee and he can use his inhaler.”

Cobb, who was released from jail in late April and sentenced to four years of probation, said Miller has been sick for some time.

“He told me back when I visited him in November 2012 that ‘I’ve got this COPD,’” Cobb said. “I guess that happens to a lot of those fellows who grew up in the tobacco belt.”

Miller, 73, had been involved in a dog breeding business in recent years, raising and selling French bulldogs. An ad on the website Puppy Territory that appears to be from Miller also indicates that his health is failing. The ad described a French bulldog named Anna for sale in Aurora for $1,900.

“I am reducing our females because I’m 73 and have COPD and cannot properly care for more,” the seller wrote.

Another longtime friend also said Miller had told him that his condition was worsening.

“He told me a few years ago that he wasn’t in very good health anymore and that he didn’t expect to live much longer,” Dan Clevenger said.

Clevenger is a former mayor of Marionville, Mo., who resigned April 21 after city aldermen began impeachment proceedings against him for making anti-Semitic statements in the wake of Miller’s arrest.

“The last time I saw him was about a year ago, and you could just tell that something was wrong,” he said. “He obviously wasn’t well.”

To reach Judy L. Thomas, call 816-234-4334 or send email to jthomas@kcstar.com.

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