Into the Devil's Den: How an FBI Informant Got Inside the Aryan Nations and a Special Agent Got Him Out Alive

Into the Devil's Den: How an FBI Informant Got Inside the Aryan Nations and a Special Agent Got Him Out Alive



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345496942
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/15/2008
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.52(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.14(d)

About the Author

Dave Hall was born in the hills of southeastern Kentucky, the second of eleven children. Raised primarily by his grandparents, Hall, in his youth, secured a reputation as a hell-raising biker, then went to work for the FBI. Hall now lives in seclusion in an undisclosed location.

Tym Burkey has been a special agent with the FBI since 1991. He earned the first of his three FBI quality service incentive awards in 1999 for his work on the Aryan Nations investigation.

Katherine Ramsland is the author of thirty-one books, including Inside the Mind of Serial Killers: Why They Kill. She teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania and for the past six years has been a regular contributor to truTV’s Crime Library.

Read an Excerpt


Close Call

When Pastor Ray sat down across the table from me, I assumed he’d start ranting as usual about how much he hated the Jews and the mud races. By now, I pretty much knew that stuff by heart. But this time I was wrong. This time, he removed a .45-caliber automatic pistol from where he’d stuck it in his belt. He looked it over, popped out the clip, and took a bullet from the chamber then placed the gun on the table. I waited for more, but he wasn’t talking. His dark eyes were on the bullet.

Attempting to lighten the mood, I asked, “Got yourself a new weapon, Pastor?”

He looked at me. “No,” he said calmly. “I’ve had this for a while now.”

He picked up an ammo box and dumped some cartridges onto the table. I wondered what the hell he was up to, but I dared not show he made me nervous. Ever since I’d met the man, one of the most ambitious figures in the Aryan Nations, I’d been on high alert. He was both the smartest man I’d ever encountered and the craziest.

Ray selected a cartridge and looked it over, as if to assess its weight or shine. Then with deliberation, he slipped it into the clip and said, “You know, Brother Dave, we’ve got to be very careful about informants.”

I nodded. “I agree.”

He looked down at the gun that lay on the table between us, even as he continued to make comments that I could hardly hear. Blood was pumping in my ears, and though the heat was off, the room was warming up. I tried to shift as if trying to keep warm in the chilly air, but the Ohio winter didn’t get to Ray. He seemed not to even notice how cold it was.

Picking up the bullets one by one, he continued to place them back into the clip until they were all nestled together. Clearly, he had something in mind. This was a man who had already tried to kill a cop, shooting him several times over a traffic stop, and I’d heard him repeatedly threaten to kill others.

“Brother Dave,” he said, “what do you think we ought to do about informants?”

Okay, I knew something was up, and I knew I might not get out of here alive. I had a sudden instinct to grab my side of the table, lift it, and turn it over on him, to crush him beneath it. But somehow I kept my wits about me. If I were just another member of the Aryan Nations, as I’d been pretending to be for the past two years, I’d be assertive on this topic, ready to act. I had to keep that in mind.

“I don’t know,” I said with a shrug. “I think you ought to take ’em out and shoot ’em.”

Pastor Ray seemed to like that response, because he smiled a little, but I couldn’t really tell if he believed my act. I’d been wondering that each day since I’d started this assignment. Sometimes he seemed to trust me; other times I wasn’t so sure. I watched as he put the clip into the pistol, making it lethal, and cocked it. Then he laid the pistol back down on the table, putting his finger on the trigger and pointing the eye of the barrel directly at my chest. I tried not to swallow.

He nodded a little, as if affirming something for himself. “What do you think we really should do about informants?”

I didn’t know if he wanted an answer or was just trying to scare me, so I acted like I was now ready to get serious. “Well, for one thing,” I said, “I think we ought to really make sure that they’re informants. If we find out they are, we ought to tell them that they’re dismissed from the Aryan Nations, they’re never allowed back at the church again, and then point them toward the door and make them leave. And when they turn to walk out, shoot ’em in the back of the head.”

I waited.

Ray smiled. Then he slowly lowered the hammer on the pistol. In his typical way, he acted as if everything was normal. Looking straight at me, he asked, “D’you mind giving me a ride over to Kale Kelly’s place?”

I followed right along as if this had been an everyday conversation. “Not at all,” I responded as my insides slowly unclenched. I wasn’t going to die today.

Ray got up, stuck the pistol back under his belt, and said, “Let’s go, Brother.”

When I stood to follow him, I felt a little dizzy, like all my blood had drained out through my feet. But by the time we got to the car, I had recovered: I was fighting off the urge to snap the good pastor’s neck.

It had been such a simple test, seemingly easy to pass, but I knew my life had hung in the balance. I couldn’t have known for sure what was the right or wrong thing to say, but apparently I’d satisfied him.

Later that night, when I was by myself, I finally got truly nervous. Pastor Ray Redfeairn was an unpredictable maniac with a hair-trigger temper. He acted first and thought about it later—if at all. He seemed to feel no remorse. He watched me so closely I could just about feel his eyes on me, and I began to wonder, not for the first time, why I was even in this situation.


First Encounter

Tym Burkey

Dave Hall’s involvement with one of the most dangerous men I’d ever investigated was due largely to me.

I’ve been an FBI special agent since June 1991, but it had taken real effort to actually get in. My path was indirect. I’d received a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering from the University of Akron, in 1983 and was working for the city Engineering Department in Wooster, Ohio, where I grew up. I wanted to find a new line of work, but in 1984 I’d married my wife, Anne, so I had little room to experiment. My sister-in-law provided media training at the FBI’s academy, and she encouraged me to look into employment there. I took the entrance exam but did not qualify. I would have put it behind me, but after getting an MBA, I decided to try again. It turned out that at that time, the FBI was facing the savings and loan scandals and was eager to sign up people with a business background. This time I passed and they accepted me. Although Anne was expecting our third child, she urged me to go to the training.

After I completed the program at the Academy, I was assigned to the Dayton Resident Agency (DRA), an FBI satellite office out of the Cincinnati Division, which put me in southern Ohio, a hotbed of militant groups. But in the early nineties, I was working on crimes such as bank robberies, truck hijackings, and drugs.

On April 19, 1995, the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was bombed. One hundred sixty-eight men, women, and children were killed and hundreds more were injured in the bombing. An alert highway patrol officer arrested Timothy McVeigh on his way out of town, and thanks to McVeigh’s stated agenda we learned that a new type of terrorist had emerged in our homeland and that there were many groups around the country preparing for similar acts.

McVeigh espoused white supremacist rhetoric and supposedly envisioned himself avenging the 1993 standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, which resulted in a conflagration at the Branch Davidian compound. Four agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) died there, as did more than eighty members of David Koresh’s community. McVeigh’s anger may also have been fueled by a book called The Turner Diaries, a piece of apocalyptic hate literature written by William L. Pierce under the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald and published in 1978. Approximately eighty thousand words long, it features a racist white “hero,” Earl Turner, who joins an underground movement that in the early 1990s resists the so-called Jewish conspiracy that has taken over the American government and confiscated everyone’s guns. The book graphically depicts the subsequent extermination of Jews, blacks, Hispanics, other “mud faces,” and white “race traitors.” Turner’s purpose was to establish an all-white separatist homeland in the Northwest.

The book is so full of hate it was hard for me to stomach it. I read it only on company time, not my time, while I was on a stakeout. I would never have read something like that by choice. A particularly disturbing part for me was the fictional bombing of the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., which of course houses FBI headquarters. If I needed convincing that groups that embraced the Diaries viewed us as the enemy, this did it for me.

Pierce, the Diaries author, founded the National Alliance (NA), a white supremacist organization in Hillsboro, West Virginia, around the same time that Richard Butler formed the Aryan Nations (AN). The main differences between the NA and the AN were the level of violence and the religious angle. The AN openly preached from the Bible and used it to justify violence, whereas the agnostic NA advocated violence as a means to an end.

Timothy McVeigh apparently bought into The Turner Diaries’ racist paranoia, because one passage describes using a fertilizer bomb consisting of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil to blow up a federal building. McVeigh’s destructive act would prove inspiring for other antigovernment groups, and the Diaries was often found in the homes or possession of members of these groups.

We knew that the central AN headquarters was a compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and we knew that its membership hoped for a militant uprising. There was an AN church in our jurisdiction, so we kept an eye on it, especially after McVeigh’s attack. As the AN grew in power, the FBI was shifting its focus to prepare for more acts of domestic terrorism, which filtered down to local units that had direct contact with such groups. It was around this time that I met Dave Hall.

Dave Hall

In July 1996, I’d agreed to help out a friend. Mostly in those days I spent time with my friends, partying or just hanging out. I was on disability from a work-related back injury, so I puttered around and enjoyed myself. I had a trailer and a boat up at a lake north of Dayton, and I went there a lot to go fishing. Occasionally I worked on motorcycles for various friends, and I also saw my mom a lot. Basically it was a relaxed, laid-back life. But that was about to change.

I lived in Ohio but had grown up in Kentucky and still had family there. A distant relative wanted to meet my uncle Mike* for the purpose of selling him marijuana. They asked me to be the go-between—in other words, go get the marijuana—and I said, “No. I’m not gonna do that.” So then the guy in Kentucky asked for only an introduction. “Well, okay,” I said, “but I’m not coming to Kentucky. You’re gonna have to come up here and I’ll meet you at a rest stop in Ohio, on I-75. Then you can follow me up to my uncle’s house. I’ll introduce you and you guys can take it from there. I don’t want no part of it.”

So we arranged to do that. But unbeknownst to me, this guy from Kentucky had been busted and was working with the feds. He was laying a trap. We met at that rest area, and the next thing I knew, two agents came knocking at my door.

Table of Contents

Close Call     3
First Encounter     6
The Invitation     18
Bait     23
In Good Standing     30
Into the Dark World of White Supremacy     45
Taking Risks     61
Membership Dues     74
Recruitment Rally     86
White Noise     98
Informant!     108
Keeping Cover     118
Idaho Immersion     129
Side Trip with Psychopaths     139
No Return     151
Summer of Hate     164
The Feast of the Tabernacles     177
AN Meets Militia     186
Terrible Times     200
Conspiracy     210
Clandestine Preparations     220
Earle Cabell     230
The Grand Dragon     244
April Fools     253
Meltdown     269
Aftermath     279
Glossary     285
Index     293

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Into the Devil's Den: How an FBI Informant Got Inside the Aryan Nations and a Special Agent Got Him Out Alive 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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SeamusRyan More than 1 year ago
The information in the story was very interesting. The style of writing left me cold. My hats off to Dave Hall for undertaking this life threatening and scary task. I have known about these groups for years but it is still unnerving to see that they continue to attract new members. This country has no place for these hate groups.