The imperial wizard of a Missouri-based chapter of the KKK was found dead Saturday on the bank of the Big River and his wife and stepson have been charged in his murder, police say.
Frank Ancona, a 51-year-old Leadwood, Missouri, resident and the self-proclaimed leader of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was reported missing by his family on Friday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
An autopsy completed on Sunday found Ancona died of a gunshot wound to his head, the Park Hills Daily Journal reports.
Ancona’s wife, 44-year-old Malissa Ancona and her son, Paul Jinkerson Jr., have been charged with first-degree felony murder, tampering with physical evidence and abandonment of a corpse, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Malissa Ancona gave conflicting statements to police about where her husband went after he was reported missing by other family members last week.
Police said in court documents that Jinkerson shot Ancona as he slept in his bed at the home Ancona shared with his wife, the Post-Dispatch reports. Malissa Ancona and Jinkerson then moved his body to the bank of the Big Bend river, and tried to clean up the crime scene at the house.
Malissa Ancona admitted her stepson shot her husband in an interview with detectives, according to court documents. She also told police she failed to report the crime and helped try to cover it up.
Frank Ancona was vocal about his membership in the KKK, speaking at rallies and distributing flyers around Missouri and Kansas. He also posted recruiting videos and videos showing cross burnings, on YouTube. He is pictured on his YouTube profile wearing a white hood and robe in front of a burning cross and other KKK members in his backyard.
His body was found by a family on a fishing trip on Saturday, Washington County Sheriff Zach Jacobsen said in a statement.
Ancona’s involvement in the KKK does not appear to have played a role in his death.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Sheriff Called Ancona’s Death a ‘Tragic & Senseless Act of Violence’
Washington County Sheriff Zach Jacobsen said in a statement that Frank Ancona’s death was a “tragic and senseless act of violence.”
Ancona’s vehicle was found by a U.S. Forest Service employee on federal property in Washington County, Jacobsen said. His body was later discovered on the bank of the Big River near Belgrade, Missouri, the sheriff said.
“The Washington County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our sympathy to Mr. Ancona’s family and friends. I would like to thank the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Saint Francois County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance and professionalism during this tragic and senseless act of violence,” Jacobsen said in a statement. “I would also like to thank my staff for the professionalism and dedication they show day in and day out for our great community, and to the citizens of Missouri.”
Jacobsen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at least two search warrants have been served in connection to the investigation, and one man was taken into custody on unrelated drug charges.
According to the Post-Dispatch, Paul Jinkerson was arrested for violating his probation in a 2016 drug case.
“I don’t believe it for a second that he did it,” Jinkerson’s attorney in that case told the newspaper.
Police have not revealed a possible motive for the killing.
2. Ancona’s Wife Said They Hadn’t Been Getting Along Well & He Left Their House Saying He Wanted a Divorce
Ancona’s wife, Malissa, told KFVS-TV she and her husband had been having problems in their marriage.
“Frank and I weren’t getting along too well,” Malissa Ancona told the news station. “We were working on our marriage. He told me when he got back he was filing for divorce and took a bag of clothes with him.”
He left their house Thursday for a job out of the state, and she never heard from him again, the news station reports.
“I checked the phone records. There were no incoming or outgoing calls on his phone that day,” Malissa stated. She said calls from her phone went straight to voicemail, and his job called her to say he never showed up for work.
Police told the Daily Journal that Ancona worked delivering auto parts.
Police told the newspaper Ancona’s employers said they never sent him out-of-state on a run on Thursday, like his wife claims.
Police said they weren’t able to contact Malissa Ancona the day after her husband was reported missing, according to The Daily Journal.
They eventually searched her home and found a safe inside had been broken open with a crowbar. Cash and guns stored inside were missing. She also told police her husband had taken all of his guns, but one he usually carried on him was found inside the house, the newspaper reports.
Leadwood Police Chief William Dickey told the newspaper:
We were getting ready to put a stop and hold out on (Malissa Ancona) as well, because we weren’t able to make contact with her. So my officer called me at home and said he was getting ready to contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol in reference to this. I told him that I would just come on over and we would go on in, because he was assuming and thinking that he was dead inside the house.
She was a little hesitant to let us go into the house at first. She said she didn’t really want us going in, but after talking to her in detail about what we were there for, she let us inside. We found a safe that looked like somebody had taken a crowbar to it and beat the side out of the safe. Everything was missing from inside the safe. Right now I don’t believe it was a burglary, because she didn’t want to report anything.
Melissa Ancona posted on Facebook a day after her husband was missing to say she needed a roommate.
“She stated she did it because when he said he was leaving to go out of state on this job he took a bag of clothes with him and said when he got back he was filing for divorce,” Dickey told the newspaper. “She told us she figured she would need help to pay the rent, so she put an ad out looking for a roommate.”
Ancona’s son, also named Frank Ancona, posted on Facebook to say his father was missing, saying it was not like him to disappear.
He also is survived by his daughter and granddaughter.
Ancona’s family members and his own Facebook page have been filled with posts from people saying they are glad Ancona died.
The Washington County sheriff said police also received angry messages during their search for Ancona.
“Law enforcement was attacked terribly on Facebook and officers were called in on their days off to help,” Sheriff Zach Jacobsen told the Daily Journal. “At the end of the day the professionalism shined through all the negativity and we were able to bring some closure to the family.”
3. Ancona Said His Chapter of the Klan Is Disliked by Other KKK Groups & Is Not an Enemy ‘of the Colored & Mongrel Races’
On the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’s website, the group states, “This Order will strive forever to maintain the God-given supremacy of the White Race. To preserve the blood purity, integrity, cultural, and traditions of the White Christian Race in America.”
It also says, “this does not mean that we are enemies of the colored and mongrel races. But it does mean that we are organized to establish the solidarity and to realize the mission of the white race.”
The Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a very traditional 2nd Era-like klan and we do not believe in socialism, nazism, paganism, or any other non-American beliefs. We believe that all persons should be allowed the right to believe as they wish, but that does not mean that we as a traditional Ku Klux Klan will fall into those non-Christian beliefs along with the non-believers that practice them. We hold our values to a very high standard and will not tolerate any deviance from those ideals. We will absolutely NOT use our good name as an intimidation tool towards anyone, no matter what race, color, or creed. We are not a hate group as some will have you to believe. The Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is first and foremost a law abiding group, PERIOD! The Ku Klux Klan has been misunderstood for years, but we know what we truly stand for and will stand for the same for years to come.
Frank Ancona told the Kansas City Star in 2015, “The only things secret about the Klan are that our rituals and ceremonies are only for members to see. That’s part of the mystique of being a member.”
He said they hold cross burnings in his backyard, including during an annual Christmas celebration. But they are not a hate group, he said.
“How can you be a Christian organization and hate other people?” he asked.
Ancona has feuded with other Klan leaders, he told the Star.
“I’ve actually taken a lot of heat from other white nationalists because of that,” he said. “I’m called an N-lover and a Jew, blah, blah, blah. I’m doing everything I can to hold it to the principles it’s supposed to be by.”
He told the newspaper, “I don’t have anything against Jews. I see a lot of younger folks going toward this Nazi movement. But it’s not the Klan’s philosophy.”
On the group’s website, Ancona wrote, “The media will tell you The KKK is dead, gone, irrelevant. They have tried since the birth of the Klan to downplay the influence and power of the KKK,. They also will try to portray us as haters, ignorant. They will ignore the facts. Let me tell you they are the haters. They have engaged in a campaign to destroy our Race, culture, and heritage.”
The Loyal White Knights of the KKK is one of the groups that feuded with Ancona, claiming he was Jewish, and not a real member of the KKK.
The Loyal White Knights say on their website that Ancona “first popped up out of nowhere declaring himself Imperial Wizard of his Fake Klan which we all assume is a group created by the government, ADL or JEWISH Southern Poverty Law Center in order to collect names of White ’extremest’ as they call us to turn into the government to put on ‘Terrorist watch list’.”
4. He & Other Members of the Klan Distributed Flyers During the Ferguson Protests in 2014
Ancona drew national media attention during the 2014 protests over the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He and other members of his KKK group distributed flyers warning they were armed and would use lethal force to protect themselves from protesters.
“These people are acting like savage animals,” he said in a video. “And that’s what they are, is a bunch of savage beasts.”
He was interviewed by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes about the flyer distribution. You can watch the video above.
Ancona told Hayes the KKK “is ready for war,” in Ferguson.
That same year, Ancona won a court battle to allow the distribution of Klan flyers in Desloge, Missouri, as long as he and others stayed on the curb, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Ancona also went to war with the hacktivist group Anonymous after personal information about him, his family and other members of the Klan was posted online following their activity in Ferguson. Anonymous also claimed Ancona’s group has ties to the police. He later threatened Anonymous members in online postings.
“Its deer hunting season here in southern Missouri, it’s really easy to see how a hunter could mistake someone wearing one of those gay anonymous masks for the hind-end of a whitetail deer. Boom!!! Oops sorry it was an accident,” Ancona wrote. “You pathetic n***** lovers are going down, we’re NOT HIDING. WE’RE NOT ASHAMED OF WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE REPRESENT. THE INVISIBLE EMPIRE CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE OVERTHROWN. We will hunt you down and tear those masks from your face. You’ll be strung up next to the chimps. On display for the whole world to see. The Klan is to be feared, not threatened.”
He did sit down with a member group for an interview, in which he proudly displayed a KKK belt buckle, saying he does not hide his affiliation with the Klan.
5. The Group Claims Thousands of Members Around the Country, Including 3 Florida Corrections Employees Accused of Plotting to Kill a Black Inmate
Ancona told the Kansas City Star his KKK group had thousands of members, including in every state except Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada and Utah, with the majority of the members in Missouri.
“Missouri’s always been a strong Klan state,” he told the newspaper in 2015. “Kansas, not so much.”
Ancona also told the Star his group does not promote violence and those who do “are not following the Klan doctrine.”
Three members of the group, who worked for the Florida Department of Corrections, were arrested in 2015 on accusations they plotted to kill a black inmate in revenge for a fight he had with a white guard.
Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Moran, 47, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 42, were charged with conspiracy to commit murder in April 2015, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
They pleaded not guilty and the case is still pending.