- By Zack McMillin, Marc Perrusquia
- Posted May 21, 2010 at 10:38 a.m. , updated May 21, 2010 at 11:57 p.m.
In the final moments of their lives, West Memphis Police Department veterans Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans encountered Thursday an old white Plymouth Voyager minivan carrying 16-year-old Joe Kane and his 45-year-oldfather, Jerry R. Kane — a man who unbeknownst to them harbored extreme anti-government views. He also had a record of previous trouble with police and a philosophy, which he credited to the Bible, of applying overwhelming violence to “conquer” foes.
Increasingly surreal revelations Friday about the Kanes gradually led to a late-evening confirmation by Arkansas State Police that Jerry Kane of Chester, Ohio, and Joe, of unknown residence, were indeed the dead suspects they believe killed Evans and Paudert — the son of the town’s chief of police.
The Kanes later wounded Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and Deputy Chief W.A. Wren in the conclusive shootout at Walmart in which father and son were killed.
Jerry Kane traveled the country with his son giving seminars on what he called “mortgage fraud” and offering advice on foreclosure strategies. A website promoting those seminars provided a trove of information — audio files and YouTube videos and links to various documents — detailing his world views.
One particularly chilling YouTube clip involves Kane fielding a question about a “rogue” Internal Revenue Service agent: “Violence doesn’t solve anything, OK. It’s not violence that we’re after. The Bible even tells us that if you’re going to go and make war against somebody, you have to kill their sheep and their goats and their chickens and their babies and their wives. OK?”
In the YouTube video he said, “You have to kill them all. So what we’re after here is not fighting, it’s conquering. I don’t want to have to kill anybody, but if they keep messing with me, that’s what it’s going to have to come out. That’s what it’s going to come down to, is I’m going to have to kill. And if I have to kill one, then I’m not going to be able to stop, I just know it.”
In that video, he and Joe joke about using a bat to “take care of” a problem with an IRS agent.
In an Internet broadcast dated May 6, Jerry Kane talks about New Mexico police arresting him in April at a “Nazi checkpoint where they were demanding papers or jail.”
A woman identifying herself as Donna Lee, who lives in Clearwater, Fla., told The Commercial Appeal she was the common-law wife of Jerry Kane, and that, looking at news footage, she could identify the minivan, a black dog she called Olie escaping the van after the shootout and, finally, the lifeless body of her stepson, Joe, in front of the minivan.
At least one neighbor in Clearwater confirmed the presence of Joe and Jerry there over the past few months, although a background check showed Jerry had lived in central Ohio for much of his life — in Springfield much of the past two decades.
Other relatives confirmed similar details to The Commercial Appeal, including that another dog, named Missy Kate, was also traveling in the van. The West Memphis Animal Shelter confirmed that another dog, which had been killed, had indeed been found.
Another friend said the Kanes also traveled with a box of ashes of Jerry’s late wife, who was Joe’s mother. Lee also said Jerry Kane owned an AK-47 and carried it with him on trips because he liked taking it to shooting ranges.
But Lee insisted that Jerry and Joe Kane were doing good work, helping people with financial troubles keep their homes. A memorial website devoted to the Kanes sprang up early Friday expressing similar sentiments and featuring messages from many people clearly holding great affection — and even admiration — for father and son.
Ohio police records describe Kane as a burly man, 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, who for a time wore a black beard. Since 1983, Kane was arrested or cited six times in Clark County, Ohio, on charges ranging from passing bad checks to criminal trespass, drunken driving and driving with expired tags.
Kane was charged with felonious assault in 2004 after allegedly shooting a 13-year-old boy in Springfield with a “handgun-style BB gun.”
Material on the website promoting Kane’s foreclosure-advising business displays classic rhetoric experts say is associated with anti-government groups. Topics discussed on the site include microchips inserted into people’s bodies, plots involving the H1N1 vaccine and the contention that U.S. dollars don’t constitute real money.
“It’s a classic Patriot or Sovereign Citizen website,” said Mark Potok, director of the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center.
In that YouTube clip about the “rogue” IRS agent, in which Jerry described his view of the proper use of violence, his son is shown laughing and offering to deal with the agent himself: “If you pay for the bat, I’ll take care of the problem.” Later, the son describes his view on violence: “They drew first blood. You are self-defending.”
Jerry Kane asks of the audience: “Can anybody tell that my son has never been to school? … He slipped though the cracks.”
Potok said a check of the Southern Poverty center’s databases found no mention of Kane, but that he clearly was at least influenced by extreme right-wing organizations. “Without question, Jerry Kane was mouthing some of the core ideas of anti-government, Patriot movement,” Potok said.
The white van in Thursday’s shootout was registered to a New Vienna, Ohio, organization called House of God’s Prayer. Potok said a former FBI informant says the building where the church was housed also once served as the headquarters for the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist group. “That was an incredibly violent bunch of people up there,” Potok said.
Lee rejected any suggestion that Jerry and Joe held racist views. She said Jerry Kane tried “to help everyone, it did not matter what their color.”
– Zack McMillin: 529-2564 — Marc Perrusquia: 529-2545
Florida-based freelancer Trevor Aaronson contributed to this story.