AURORA, Mo. — For years, police officers, investigators and members of the media in southwest Missouri knew Frazier Glenn Miller Jr.
He was the extremist who sent out hate-filled fliers, wrote inflammatory letters to the editor and kept police agencies wondering whether his vitriol would ever evolve into violence.
“We were always waiting,” said Richard Witthuhn, police chief of Aurora and Marionville Mo. “There was always that possibility.”
Yet, Witthuhn said, Miller, 73, wasn’t known to act violently. “It was more a lot of verbal and the threat,” he said. “There wasn’t any outward shootings or beatings that I’m aware of.”
Miller, who is booked in the Johnson County jail as Frazier Glenn Cross but is widely known as Miller, lived in rural Aurora with his wife in a neat, gray, one-story house at a T-intersection northwest of Marionville.
He was arrested Sunday afternoon in Overland Park, Kan., after three people were shot and killed at the Jewish Community Center and the Village Shalom senior living center. Witnesses saw police arrest Miller, who later ranted “Heil, Hitler” as he sat in the back of a police car.
At his home Monday morning, two black dogs ran around the yard. A red Chevrolet Colorado pickup, with a Confederate flag on the bumper, sat out front. The garage door was open, and a large Confederate flag was standing in the corner.
No one answered the door.
Miller had lived in the Aurora area for years, but neighbors and other residents did not know him well. Still, they knew him well enough to have an opinion.
In the words of three residents: “Crazy.” “Nuts.” “Fruitcake.”
“Probably nobody was really surprised,” said Bill Robinson, who works at Hillbilly Gas Mart on U.S. 60. “We had all seen the papers he passed out.”
A neighbor, Mitzi Owens, said she had visited with Miller often when he came into the pharmacy where she works in Aurora.
“He was just as pleasant and nice as he could be,” she said. “Nothing political. Well, he talked a lot about Obamacare, but the ‘Heil Hitler’ stuff was not the man I talked to in the store.”
But, she said, she didn’t want to sound like she was defending him.
“I can’t imagine having that kind of hate in your heart.”
Mark Webb, the police chief in Bolivar, Mo., was at the Marionville Police Department, near Miller’s home, from 2009 to early 2013.
“He’s always spouted the rhetoric, the anti-Semitic, anti-everything,” Webb said.
But in recent years, he said, Miller “had been very low key, kind of off the radar. He was a non-event.”
Witthuhn has been in Aurora four years and hasn’t met the man, only heard of him.
“He’s been pretty quiet,” the Aurora chief said. “In fact in the last couple months my officers asked if he’s been around.”
Added Webb: “Who knows what triggered it.”
Marionville Mayor Danny Clevenger has known Miller for years. Owner of a small-engine repair shop, Clevenger would fix equipment for the man known for his hate-filled beliefs.
“He was definitely a racist. … I definitely knew he hates other races,” Clevenger said Monday. “But you know, as far as the way he dealt with me, he was fair. I always thought he was a great guy.”
“I’d consider him a friend, but I didn’t appreciate his beliefs on things.”
The mayor was sworn in last week and had been an alderman for seven years. He was on the board in 2008 when a Marionville police officer shot and killed Miller’s son, Jesse.
Armed with a shotgun that March 2008 day, Jesse had killed a good Samaritan who tried to help him after he’d wrecked his car. Jesse Miller shot the man “point blank.”
“He was headed to town with his shotgun and our police officer stopped him,” Clevenger said.
After Jesse Miller’s death, many worried his father would seek revenge.
“People thought he was wanting to, as they say, get even or even the score,” Webb said.
But he didn’t.
When federal authorities reached out to police officials in southwest Missouri Sunday about the shootings, Webb and Witthuhn initially didn’t know who they were talking about. Miller was arrested under the name Cross.
They soon discovered, though, it was the man whom law enforcement authorities in southwest Missouri had known for years.
Clevenger said he’s still shocked, in a way, that his friend and customer turned so violent.
“I never would have thought he would do something like that,” Clevenger said. “I thought more or less his purpose was to tell people what’s going on. Tell them his beliefs. But I never thought he would do something like that.”