Both the FBI and Ready wanted Heppler to participate in the rally, Heppler claims. But he refused, telling them he didn't want to be associated publicly with the NSM.


What can be made of all this? Well, Browning says he alerted the FBI and other federal and local law enforcement agencies that Ready should be targeted.

J.T. Ready, in neo-Nazi gear, at a demonstration in Riverside, California
J.T. Ready, in neo-Nazi gear, at a demonstration in Riverside, California
Ready with a portrait of Adolf Hitler outside a nativist rally at the state Capitol
Ready with a portrait of Adolf Hitler outside a nativist rally at the state Capitol

I know of others who had done the same, and I know that Heppler was helping the FBI at one time. Though what, if anything, the FBI did before or after they dropped Heppler is unknown.

Ready's activities were well publicized, with groups such as the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center ringing the alarm. Several law enforcement organizations could have done something about Ready.

Yet nothing was done to stop him before he killed.

Could the feds or local police have anticipated Ready's eruption in a deadly fit of domestic violence? Maybe not. But they knew he was likely to erupt. Or they should have known.

Ready was a wily and often intimidating individual. He could be amusing and amiable when he wanted to be, but beneath that façade lay a whirling dervish of hate, always on the edge of emerging.

I think he was on guard to show himself in the best light whenever we met, spoke on the phone, or corresponded via text message. Still, occasionally he would let slip anti-Semitic or racist asides, and it was evident that he believed them. Deeply delusional, he longed to be a hero, though his own proclivities and prejudices made him a villain.

More than once, he claimed to be an informant for a federal agency, though he would not tell me which one. He mentioned having a "handler" and how other cops sometimes risked blowing his cover.

Would it surprise me if Ready had been an informant for some law enforcement agency? Not really. However, I tend to think that Ready was a braggart who — as his quixotic campaign for Pinal County sheriff demonstrates — aspired to be in law enforcement.

Perhaps, somewhere in his twisted brain, he believed his own bull, just as he may have believed that he was really fighting narco-terrorists or, in his final moments, that killing a half-Latina child was the right thing to do. (Along with Ready's girlfriend, her daughter, and her daughter's boyfriend, one of the victims was the daughter's baby).

Ready's dalliance with Mormonism aside, Browning describes his onetime quarry as a "die-hard Odinist," albeit of one with a racist bent.

"J.T. believed he was a warrior," Browning says. "So he [believed he] was going to . . . be carried away by the Valkyrie up to Valhalla, where he could fight the battles every day and drink the mead at night."

And what about killing the baby girl?

"If you kill a 2-year-old [who's] half-Mexican, you're going to go to Valhalla," Browning says of Ready's neo-Nazi mindset. "If you go outside and you kill yourself [as Ready did], you instantly become a martyr."

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