The imperial wizard of a Missouri-based chapter of the KKK was found dead Saturday on the bank of the Big River, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office says.
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 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.
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.
“Right now no one has been charged in his death, but that may change tomorrow,” Jacobsen told the newspaper on Sunday.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
— Operation KKK (@Operation_KKK) February 12, 2017
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’.”
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.
— Anonymous Cop Watch (@AnonCopWatch) November 16, 2014