See that old man at the corner where you buy your papers? He may have a silencer equipped pistol under his coat. That fountain pen in the pocket of the insurance salesman that calls on you might be a cyanide gas gun. What about your milkman? Arsenic works slow but sure. ... Traitors, beware! Even now the crosshairs are on the back of your necks.Superimposed on this was a picture of crosshairs.
From there on, his life more or less unraveled. In 1969, DePugh was caught in Truth or Consequences, N.M., after a massive manhunt. According to multiple reports, agents found him holding two former Minutemen -- a man and a woman -- in confinement crates because he believed they were traitors. He also had large stores of weapons. DePugh spent four years in federal prison and wrote a book about the plight of the incarcerated. Many consider it his best and most compassionate work.
During the late '60s, authorities tried to connect him to various other Minutemen exploits, including a bank robbery in Seattle and a planned cyanide attack on the United Nations, but they were unsuccessful. DePugh credibly said that he had no control over the people who were nominally his followers.
After he got out of jail, DePugh went to live in Iowa, where, in 1991, he was arrested on child pornography charges after what Greaney calls a "modeling shoot he took of a teenage girl." "DePugh beat those charges as well," Greaney writes, "but some close to him considered it the last straw and severed their ties to him." (One Columbia Tribune commenter who knew DePugh's grandson speculates that the child porn rap was staged by the Feds.)
In later years, DePugh's political views evolved to what Beckemeier describes as "anti-Bush, pro-Obama and anti-Semitic, all at the same time. That's quite a combination." (Another commenter pooh-poohs this view: "Many Obama supporters are also anti-Bush and anti-Semitic, notably Farrakhan and Wright.")
What makes Greaney's tribute particularly strange is its tone of admiration, even compassion, for DePugh. He appears to find some poignancy in the fact that DePugh lived alone, abandoned by his wife and children. Come on, T. J., never mind political views, would you feel comfortable living with a convicted felon and possible child-pornographer?
The story ends thus:
The death of the man who had appeared on the front page of the New York Times and whose shadow army made elected officials quake in fear warranted almost no media coverage. A scant two-line obituary ran in the Kansas City Star. The obit misspelled his middle name.
Could the misspelling speak just as much to a general ignorance of South American history and lack of good copy-editing as well as disrespect for DePugh? A more philosophical question: Does someone like that deserve any respect?
In any case, since DePugh, per his own request, had no funeral, here's hoping somebody affixed one of DePugh's stickers to his cremains urn.