On 13 February 2017, just days after a prominent Ku Klux Klan member's body was found on a Missouri riverbank, his wife and stepson were arrested and charged with killing him and dumping his body.
Authorities in St. Francois County charged 44-year-old Malissa Ann Ancona and 24-year-old Paul Edward Jinkerson Jr. with first-degree murder, abandonment of a corpse, armed criminal action, and tampering with physical evidence in the death of 51-year-old Frank Ancona four days earlier. County prosecutor Jarrod Mahurin's office told us that the suspects are scheduled for arraignment on 21 February 2017.
Mahurin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the victim's death "may have been a marital issue" because Ancona, an "Imperial Wizard" for the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, had recently told his wife that he intended to seek a divorce.
According to an affadavit, Jinkerson (who did not live with the couple) shot the victim in his bedroom at his home in Leadwood. Jinkerson's vehicle was then used to transport the body to an area near the Big River in central Missouri. The affadavit also stated that Malissa Ancona admitted to helping "clean up the blood" after the shooting in an interview with police.
Malissa Ancona told her police that she last saw her husband on 8 February 2017, but his employer, an automotive parts supplier in St. Louis, debunked her allegation that he had been sent away on a business trip. Authorities found Ancona's car in the Mark Twain National Forest (an hour's drive from his home) on 9 February 2017. He was not reported as missing until the following day.
In an interview with KMOV-TV published shortly before her arrest, Malissa Ancona said that she had "no idea" who would hurt her husband, and insisted that despite being a leader in the KKK (which she said was "not that way anymore"), he was not a hateful man. She added:
If he doesn't want to live in a black neighborhood or have blacks in his neighborhood ... he thinks you should be allowed to live in a neighborhood that's all white. If he doesn't want to work with one, he thinks companies should be able to, if they don't want to hire them ... But he doesn't think that anybody should be killed or murdered or anything like that. He just believes in separation of the races, is mostly what it is.
While police in Leadwood were "trying to pin everything" on her, she said, St. Francois County officials were working with her "to find out what actually did happen."
In November 2014, Frank Ancona admitted that his group had been distributing fliers calling people protesting the fatal shooting of a black teenager, Michael Brown, by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri "terrorists," and that the demonstrations had spurred an increase in his group's membership.