When I wrote Into the Devil’s Den, I recorded a tale about an unlikely hero who helped save lives in a significant way. However, the story was past…or so I thought. It was truly a delight to learn that the very act of writing it provided a missing link for one more event in a way that no one could have foreseen. Synchronicity is a wonderful thing.
Here’s the first part of that story: When the F.B.I. needed an informant during the late 1990s to infiltrate the Aryan Nations organization, Agent Tym Burkey looked for someone who would have credibility with paranoid militants. Circumstances brought him together with Dave Hall, a tattooed, 350-pound, six-foot-four former biker, and Hall agreed to take the job. As he penetrated this dangerous network of white supremacy, he looked to Burkey to watch his back, while Burkey prayed that Hall was a man of integrity. Neither quite knew what to expect from the other. Taking considerable risk, Hall developed innovative strategies to maintain his role and avoid being “erased,” even as it battered his health and cost him everyone who was close to him. Thanks to his connections with the Outlaws motorcycle gang, Hall managed to infiltrate the haunts of Harold “Pastor Ray” Redfeairn, leader of the AN’s Ohio Chapter.
Hall made himself attractive for recruitment as a bodyguard and Redfeairn took the bait. Hall quickly learned the language, acted the role, participated in the AN culture, and shot through the ranks to become Redfeairn’s second-in-command—not an easy feat in light of Redfeairn’s trigger-happy paranoia. During this time, Hall provided information that prevented two Oklahoma-type terrorist attacks, stopped the assassination of a federal judge, exposed a plot against the life of civil rights attorney Morris Dees, and contributed to the arrest of vital members of the Aryan Nations, Ku Klux Klan, and New Order terrorist cell.
As a trusted insider, Hall became friends with Kale Kelly and he soon realized that Kelly was the chosen assassin for killing attorney Morris Dees. In one scene, Hall accompanied Kelly to the farm of Ron Edwards, Imperial Wizard of the Klans of America, which had thirteen chapters in eight states. Hall is asked to leave them alone and he believed they were plotting to bomb a building. In fact, they were finalizing the plan to kill Dees, who was about to sue the Aryan Nations for its brutal attack in Idaho on two innocent people. AN officials knew that if Dees won, he could crush the organization, as he’d already done with several Klan groups. Hall flipped on Kelly just in time to stop him from completing his deadly plan, so Morris Dees was saved. He subsequently won his suit against the AN, getting a damage award so great that the hate organization crumbled.
This is where Into the Devil’s Den wraps up. Hall went into hiding, while Kale Kelly went to prison on weapons charges and admitted he was the designated assassin. The book was published and sent to Morris Dees. When he read it he found something more interesting than a story about an undercover operation. Dees knew about plots against his life and he believed that Ron Edwards was centrally involved. Dees wanted to sue Edwards for conspiracy to commit violence and inciting racial hatred in the beating of a teenager in Kentucky, but he could not get informants to testify about Edwards’ role as an instigator. When he read the scene in Hall’s book about Hall and Kelly at Edwards’ farm, he believed that the secret meeting had been about killing him.
Kelly was now out of prison, so Dees asked Tym Burkey to set up a meeting. By this time, Kelly had decided that hate group ideology was wrong. He was astonished the Dees wanted to meet him. Kelly agreed to go to court to describe how Edwards had asked him to assassinate Dees and was going to supply the gun.
In November 2008, Ron Edwards was convicted of inciting racial hatred and violence, and the jury awarded 2.5 million in damages against the Imperial Klans of America, $1 million of which was leveled against Edwards himself as punitive damage.
So, Dave Hall, the good ol’ boy biker, was not only instrumental in helping to cripple one powerful hate group, but his story, published in a book, was also key to crushing another.
It feels very good to have been part of this process.
Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology and has written 35 books and over 900 articles. Her latest is The Devil’s Dozen: How Cutting-edge Forensics Took Down Twelve Notorious Serial Killers. You can learn more on her Facebook fan page or www.katherineramsland.com.