Gotta say, this seems like another sad case where the ‘Flower of White Christian Manhood’ cosplay comes off as a particularly toxic attempt at self-deception. Disheartening for those of us who support animal rescue, too — reminder that the twist leading to animal hoarding too often coexists with other mental-health problems. Doyle Murphy, in the St. Louis Riverfront Times, with one of the great ledes of all time:
Frank Ancona, the imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, smelled like cat piss.
The stench clung to the 51-year-old’s graying hair and mustache. It seeped into the fabric of his clothes and hung on him like a blanket. He was unhappy about it, but he did not seem to know what to do. He lived in a small, beat-looking house in the rural southeast Missouri town of Leadwood. The windows of the front porch had been pulled out and the wood frames wrapped in chicken wire — a project his wife had undertaken one evening after he headed off to his job as an overnight courier for a St. Louis-based shipping company.
Malissa Ancona, 44, seemed intent on turning their home into a giant kennel. It was well-known that the bleach blonde ran an off-the-books — some would say infamous — animal rescue. Dozens of cats and two dogs shared 1,000 square feet with the Klansman and his wife. They nested in piles of dirty clothes, pawed through open garbage and kicked litter across the floors. A neighbor estimates as many as 70 cats lived there during peak times…
There’s not much money in Leadwood. Set in the hills about 70 miles south of St. Louis, the median household income is about $31,000, nearly $20,000 less than the statewide figure. The population of 1,282 is 99 percent white. For diversity, residents identifying as American Indian outnumbered African-Americans two to one. That’s not a ratio: Census workers counted a total of two Native Americans and one black person in the 2010 tally.
Leadwood is the kind of place where people might not agree with the KKK, but they also don’t get too worked up about a Klan leader living next door. The Anconas moved in five or six years ago. Frank’s dad lived one house over to the south, and the local fire station was across the street. The younger Ancona seemed intent on settling in after years spent bouncing around Missouri and Illinois. The Leadwood house was a lease, but Frank had worked out a rent-to-own arrangement with the homeowners, relatives say. Shortly after moving in, he hung a red flag with the KKK’s “blood drop” cross to the left of the front door and a replica of the Klan’s historical flying dragon pennant to the right.
His only real problem was Malissa…
When word spread that Frank had gone missing February 9, no one seemed too surprised. His son, Frank Jr., knew something was wrong when his father’s employer called to say he had not shown up for work for the first time in nearly a decade. The son called police and headed over to the house.
He and the officers were just about to go inside when Malissa returned home with her son from a previous relationship and barred their way. Frank Jr. remembered a feeling of dread sweep over him.
“I had a gut feeling right then and there she’d done something bad.”…