The avowed white supremacist charged with killing three people at Jewish sites in Overland Park said he decided to carry out the attacks after becoming so sick with emphysema that he thought he was about to die.
F. Glenn Miller Jr., who faces a capital murder charge, told The Kansas City Star he went to the emergency room in late March, unable to breathe.
“I was convinced I was dying then,” said Miller, of Aurora, Mo., in his first published interview since the April 13 shooting rampage. “… I wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews or attacked the Jews before I died.”
But Jewish leaders and those who monitor extremist groups said Miller’s actions only served to bring the community together in a show of support for all races and religions. And Leonard Zeskind, president of the Kansas City-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, said the public must pay more attention to those who promote racist and violent views to understand what motivates them and to prevent future tragedies.
Miller — who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Cross Jr. — is accused of killing physician William Corporon, 69, and his grandson Reat Underwood, 14, at the Jewish Community Center and Terri LaManno, 53, an occupational therapist who was visiting her mother at the nearby Village Shalom care center. None of the victims was Jewish.
Members of both families said Friday that they did not want to comment for this story. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe and Miller’s lawyer, Ron Evans, said they were precluded from commenting because of a judicial gag order.
Miller, 73, spoke to The Star in a series of phone calls last week from the New Century Adult Detention Center. He originally said he would not speak on the record unless The Star agreed to send a copy of the recorded interview to a longtime friend of his. The Star refused, and Miller eventually consented to an interview without any conditions.
Speaking in a Southern drawl, Miller talked of conducting reconnaissance missions to the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in the days before the shootings. He said he went to the two sites “for the specific purpose of killing Jews.” He said he thought his actions had an impact.
“Because of what I did, Jews feel less secure,” he said. “Every Jew in the world knows my name now and what I did. As for these … white people who are accomplices of the Jews, who attend their meetings and contribute to their fundraising efforts and who empower the Jews, they are my enemy too. A lot of white people who associate with Jews, go to Jewish events and support them know that they’re not safe either, thanks to me.”
He said he had one regret.
“The young white boy,” he said. “I regret that.”
But when asked if there was something he wanted to say to Reat’s family, Miller said, “Not now.”
Those who track the white nationalist movement said that although the despicable actions and disgusting language can numb the soul, people need to learn more about extremists like Miller to stop future attacks.
“White supremacists remain a dangerous and violent part of our society,” Zeskind said. “We have to talk to them and understand their motivation.
“Learning about them is our responsibility so that we may be better equipped to tackle this ongoing problem. Ignoring it, quarantining it, shutting our eyes, closing our ears, hasn’t stopped any Nazi killers. Opening our eyes, joining with others, taking public stands against racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry of the type displayed by Glenn Miller for decades is the best guarantee of building a truly open, democratic society.”
Mark Levin, founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, said the shootings had the opposite effect of what Miller was seeking.
“The fact that he brought tragedy to a number of lives brought our community together,” Levin said. “… In my experience, never has the general community reacted to any minority group the way the Jewish community was the recipient of overwhelming affection and understanding.
“When the community had the memorial, everyone came, across the board. What happened here, and I hope it’s a harbinger of things to come, is that the bullets in an unlikely place — suburbia — made everyone aware that we’re all vulnerable to hateful violence regardless of ethnicity, regardless of religious affiliation.”
Miller has a decades-long history of spewing racism. In 1980, he founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, leading hundreds of followers in marches against civil rights throughout the Carolinas. When the organization was shut down for conducting illegal paramilitary operations, he formed the White Patriot Party. In 1987, he went underground after mailing a “Declaration of War” to supporters, authorities and news organizations that established a point system for the assassination of federal officials, blacks, Jews, gays and others.
Miller and several comrades were soon arrested in a trailer in Ozark, Mo., where authorities found a large cache of weapons and explosives. Miller cut a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to testify against other white supremacists in a federal sedition trial in 1988, leading some in the movement to label him a “race traitor.” In return for his testimony, he received a five-year prison sentence.
He was released in 1990 after serving three years. He entered the federal witness protection program and moved to Iowa, where he became an over-the-road trucker. He moved to southern Missouri in the mid-1990s.
In his interviews, Miller said he conducted Internet searches of Jewish centers in the Kansas City area but was convinced that authorities were monitoring his computer and phone, “so I was always careful.”
“I even Googled Islamic community centers, Hispanic community centers, Baptist community centers, just to throw them off,” he said. “I didn’t drive my truck because I was convinced it was being monitored by satellite by the cops. That’s the reason I took my wife’s car.”
Miller said he drove to the Jewish Community Center numerous times in the week leading up to the shootings.
“I drove all the way from my home in Missouri, back and forth, back and forth,” he said. “I reconnoitered the damned place.”
Miller said he first went to the center about six days before the shootings. He was unarmed, he said, and wanted to see whether anyone would try to stop him.
“And nothing happened,” he said. “I parked right in front of it and drove around. If the feds had been monitoring me, they’d have stopped me right then because they were afraid I was going to kill somebody.”
He said he never went inside the center — not only because his emphysema made it difficult to walk very far, but also because he was afraid.
“I was terrified of getting caught with these weapons,” he said. “If I got caught with those weapons, I’d be finished. I’d spend the rest of my damned life in prison and not having done anything.”
Miller said he’d read online that the community center was sponsoring an “American Idol”-style talent competition on April 13.
“And according to the flier that I read, it says young Jews from all over will be participating,” he said.
The day before the shootings, Miller drove to the Kansas City area and got a motel room in Belton. The next morning, he went to Harrah’s North Kansas City casino and won $290 playing blackjack.
“I think I was there for about an hour,” he said. “When I was walking around, I’d give a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute and I would goosestep. I knew I was going to do it.”
Miller said he went to the community center three times that day, starting about 10:30 or 11 a.m. After the third visit, he said, he decided to go home because he hadn’t seen enough people “to satisfy my quota,” which he said was “maybe six or eight.”
He left and drove south on Nall Avenue to 135th Street, then headed east. But then he turned around.
“I pulled over and I thought, ‘Here I am going home. I might die, and I will have not fulfilled my mission.’ My conscience would not allow me to do that.”
He arrived back at the Jewish Community Center around 1 p.m. He said he had a pistol in the front seat and two shotguns and a .30-caliber carbine in the trunk.
“I seen the two guys getting out of a vehicle …,” he said. “Right above then, there were two young guys walking towards their vehicle and towards my direction.
“… I just parked right in the middle of the drive there, and I got out where the guys in the vehicle were. I was probably no more than eight feet from that doctor. I got out and got in my trunk and started shooting. … He showed no fear at all.”
One of the other men in the parking lot disappeared, he said.
“The other guy speeded up,” he said. “I shot at him but missed him.
“I thought it was a strong possibility I’d be killed, so I wanted to kill as many as I possibly could before I got killed myself. I was thoroughly convinced the place was going to be loaded with guards. Armed guards.”
As he drove away from the center, he said, “I have never felt such exhilaration. … Finally, I’d done something.”
He said he drove slowly to Nall, then turned south, surprised that nobody was coming after him. He immediately drove to Village Shalom, where he encountered LaManno in the parking lot.
“After I shot her, another woman came right behind the woman’s vehicle that I’d just shot. Right behind it, 15 feet from me. … I had the shotgun pointed at her head from about 12 feet. I said, ‘Are you a Jew?’ She said, ‘What?’ By the second time, she knew why I was asking. She screamed, ‘No.’ So I let her live.”
After that, Miller said, “I drove just a few blocks because I figured there were guards there who were going to shoot me in a second.”
He said he called 911 right away.
“It rang about 10 times,” he said, “and there was no answer.”
He said he opened a fifth of Wild Turkey whiskey he’d bought the night before.
“I don’t drink,” he said. “I quit at least 10 years ago. I took three or four gulps. And before I took the fourth one, the cops pulled up.”
Police arrested him in the parking lot of Valley Park Elementary School, 123rd Street and Lamar Avenue. Miller said they brought several witnesses to help identify him as the shooter.
“They brought them up in a car and then they took me out of the police vehicle and in front of the car where the people could see me. I screamed at them, ‘Heil Hitler. I wish I’d have killed all of you.’”
Miller said he was surprised to learn from a newspaper story the following Saturday that the people he killed were not Jewish.
“I was convinced there would be all Jews or mostly Jews” at the two centers, he said.
Several times during the interviews, Miller said he didn’t realize that Reat Underwood was so young.
“The 14-year-old boy, he looked 20,” he said.
He said he acted alone and told no one of his plans.
“I decided to cut loose as a lone wolf and kill them Jews.”
In May, federal authorities indicted a southern Missouri man for making a “false and fictitious” statement on a form when buying a Remington Model 870 shotgun at a Wal-Mart in Republic, Mo., four days before the shootings. The man claimed to be the actual buyer of the shotgun “when in fact as the defendant then knew, he was not the actual buyer of the firearm,” according to the indictment.
Miller said the man also bought him the two other long guns at a gun show in Springfield. But Miller said the man wasn’t involved in his plot.
“I used him,” he said. “He didn’t know anything. He didn’t know I was a convicted felon.”
Miller said he committed the attacks “for my people.”
“Not my family,” he said. “I told my family when they were kids, I said, ‘Look, the reason I had you was to grow up and help me fight the Jews.’”
But he said the older his children got, the less inclined they were to be a part of his plan.
“They wanted to have a good life and to hell with everything else,” he said. “That’s the way you all are, you know. All white people are that way. Self-interest. Satisfy their bellies, pocketbook and genitals. And watch ballgames. That’s all they want.”
Miller was in a Johnson County courtroom Wednesday for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
The hearing was postponed after Miller’s attorney asked for a competency evaluation to determine whether Miller is able to assist with his defense.
Miller told The Star that he wants to act as his own attorney in court.
“My case is that what I did was justifiable,” he said. “According to the Declaration of Independence, it says that when a government conspires to destroy a people, it is not only the duty of the people, it is their right to rebel and replace that government.”
Miller said Johnson County prosecutor Steve Howe is using the case for political gain, wanting “to get as much mileage out of me as he possibly can.”
He said he doesn’t want to delay the trial because of his declining health.
“I smoked for 54 years,” he said. “I quit almost five years ago, but I waited too late to quit.” He said he’d “already had several near-death experiences.”
“I just want to live long enough to have my day in court. But trouble is, the DA is going to stretch the damned thing out so long I won’t live long enough.”
Zeskind, author of “Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement From the Margins to the Mainstream,” has been keeping track of Miller and his organizations for decades.
“What motivated this guy is a set of horrible ideas that have remained in our society since the end of slavery and the close of the war against the Nazis in World War II,” he said. “It has stuck with us, and we have not succeeded in building a perfect wall against this form of bigotry.
“That’s why we have to talk to and understand the motivation of these white supremacists. And we have to understand them in their own words so that we as informed citizens can draw the appropriate conclusions.”
Levin said Miller’s actions showed how hate can consume a person.
“And the only way a person can think who is engorged by that much hatred is to say that I’ve won and my hateful attitudes are going to now be disseminated to populations,” he said. “No. He’s lived his life as a failure and will die a failure.”
The Star’s Tony Rizzo contributed to this report.