J.T. Ready Gets the Playboy Treatment
It may be neo-Nazi mass-murderer J.T. Ready's version of Valhalla.
Flanked by revealing images of Jennifer Lopez, each promising that you can "See her nude," if you sign up for something called "Playboy Plus," Ready salutes us from the grave and the Internet in an article by journalist Jake Whitney, titled, "A Border Tale."
Whitney revives the story of the Ernst Rohm of the East Valley in the June print edition of Playboy, which I'm told features Playmate of the Year Raquel Pomplun on the cover.
If Ready hadn't wigged out a year and one month ago in Gilbert, killing his girlfriend, her daughter and granddaughter, and her daughter's boyfriend in a fit of rage, before offing himself, his head would be bigger than usual with this bit of attention from the House of Hefner.
On the other hand, were it not for that bloodbath, I don't know that Playboy ever would have come calling.
Ready loved his own publicity almost as much as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio loves his, which seems appropriate, since Ready sometimes supported our octogenarian autocrat, and since both men were committed to hunting illegal immigrants and exploiting nativist hatred for their own selfish ends.
For those who followed Ready's activities, his roundups of migrants in the desert with his vigilante group U.S. Border Guard, and his father-son-like relationship with recalled, disgraced ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce, much in Whitney's piece will be familiar.
However, Whitney does score an interview with Brittany Mederos, teenage daughter of Ready's girlfriend Lisa Mederos, and the sole survivor of the Gilbert massacre.
He also tracks down Ready's mother Dottie, offering a few new biographical details of the psychopath.
Despite Ready's abusiveness and affinity for swastikas, Brittany says she and her family didn't see Ready's murderous explosion coming. As for Ready's mom and his upbringing, it's pretty much the abusive, Deep South horror show you would expect.
Ready's significance is mainly as an example of how the racist right was embraced or at least tolerated by mainstream elements in Arizona politics.
To this end, Whitney discusses Ready's ties to Pearce and how Ready once explained to videographer Dennis Gilman and I how he acted as a "bellwether" for the Mesa pol to see how much and what kind of extremist rhetoric would be acceptable to the general public.
I particularly like one passage where Whitney asks Pearce about part of his statement following the Gilbert tragedy. Back then, Pearce wrote, "At some point in time darkness took [Ready's] life over."
Whitney asks Pearce the cause of that darkness.
"How should I know?" Pearce shoots back. "Don't ask me."
Which is amusing, since Pearce is part and parcel of the same darkness, a darkness that enveloped Arizona over the past decade or so and is only now beginning to ebb, ever so slowly.
There is more to Ready's story still untold. Like where he got the grenades he kept at the house in Gilbert where he lived with the Mederos family, if he ever killed anyone in the desert, to what degree (if any) the FBI infiltrated U.S. Border Guard, and why the feds and local authorities did not act before Ready's gruesome rampage.
Still, Whitney "got it" as far as what Ready means in the context of Arizona. I spoke to him for the piece, and he quotes me as an unnamed reporter, stating that Arizona "remains the most racist state in the nation."
An assessment that is unchanged, by the way.
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