DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Harold Ray Redfeairn, who led a schism in the Aryan Nations white supremacist group died Sunday, a year after restoring leadership to the group’s founder to end months of infighting. He was 51.
Redfeairn died at 10:43 a.m. at Grandview Hospital, and the cause was not yet known, the Montgomery County coroner’s office said.
He had been hospitalized for a heart condition about a month ago but had been home for weeks and seemed better, said Eric Bierecki, Redfeairn’s next-door neighbor in a working-class neighborhood outside Dayton.
Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler named Redfeairn as his successor in September 2001, a year after a civil rights lawsuit forced Butler to forfeit the group’s Idaho compound.
Three months later, Redfeairn and propaganda minister August Kreis announced they were forming a splinter group but keeping the Aryan Nations’ name and moving it to a remote corner of Pennsylvania, where Kreis lives.
But Redfeairn later renounced the move and the ensuing split among members nationwide. He fired Kreis in May 2002 and returned command to Butler, who said afterward he thought Kreis was behind the power grab.
Butler, 85, is now running for mayor in Hayden, Idaho. Messages seeking comment were left at the Aryan Nations office there.
In 1996, Redfeairn headed a chapter of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian in New Vienna, a small community in eastern Clinton County. The church espouses the white supremacist doctrine of the Aryan Nations.
Redfeairn and other members traveled around Warren County until a string of arrests splintered the group. In 1999, Redfeairn and Kale Kelly discussed an armed uprising against the U.S. government at a restaurant in Waynesville, according to federal documents filed in conjunction with Kelly’s arrest.