Anti-Semitic killer Frazier Glenn Cross
Anti-Semitic killer Frazier Glenn Cross Reuters

Prosecutors filed a death penalty murder charge Tuesday against a white supremacist accused of fatally shooting three people at Jewish sites in Kansas over the weekend, judicial sources said.

Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, also known as F. Glenn Miller, was charged with one count of capital murder for the deaths of a 69-year-old physician and his teenaged grandson outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City.

He also faced one count of first-degree premeditated murder for the death of a 53-year-old woman at the nearby Village Shalom retirement community where she was paying a weekly visit to her mother.

Riding in a wheelchair and wearing a dark sleeveless outfit, Cross made his first court appearance later via video link from a county jail, where he was being held in lieu of $10 million bail.

With his arms crossed, and a copy of the charges in his clinched hand, he accepted a court-appointed defense lawyer, saying he had no money to pay for his own attorney.

Magistrate Judge Dan Vokins told Cross to return on April 24 for a scheduling conference.

Sunday's bloodshed – on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover – occurred in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. All three victims were Christian.

Local police, FBI agents and federal prosecutors say they intend to pursue Cross for hate crimes, which under federal law calls for tougher sentencing.

Cross shouted "Heil Hitler" from the back of a police car when he was taken into custody Sunday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League described Cross as a North Carolina native and former US Army Green Beret commando who, in the 1980s, founded and led the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party.

The center, which monitors hate groups, said the Vietnam war veteran is well known for espousing anti-Semitic and white supremacist views, notably on the overtly anti-Jewish website Vanguard News Network.

He spent three years in federal prison after being indicted on weapons charges and for plotting robberies and the murder of the law center's co-founder Morris Dees.

More recently, resettling in rural Aurora, Missouri, Cross helped launch a short-lived newspaper called The Aryan Alternative and "actively promoted his racist and anti-Semitic views online," the Anti-Defamation League said.

"I'm a patriotic white man... The only thing I ain't figured out is whether to hate all you... Jews or just the Zionists," Cross candidly told Kansas City television station KMBC in a 2006 interview.

Conviction on a capital murder charge in Kansas entails a minimum life sentence without parole, but Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said he has yet to decide whether to go further and seek the death penalty.

"This is about justice being done," Howe told reporters. "This isn't about the death penalty at all. This is about seeking justice."

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, said Cross was typical of a number of "lone wolves" in the United States who express hatred to Jews in the absence of any sizable organized anti-Semitic groups.

"There are a number of people who are unaffiliated (to any group) who hold anti-Semitic views" and voice them candidly, notably on the Internet, Mayo told AFP, noting that Cross had been on the league's radar for three decades.

"We look at the rise of anti-Semitism in other parts of the world and we tend often to be complacent about anti-Semitism and hatred in our own country," added Sara Bloomfield, director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

"These tragedies remind us that we can never be complacent," she said.