A Skinhead Slayer

Alone in the dark, Cole Bailey Sr. pilots his black Escalade around sleek, moonlit curves that make up the hundred-mile descent from his mountaintop mansion to the sprawling valley below.

Bailey lives on a hill above Prescott, and regularly does business in Phoenix and Tucson, traveling between the destinations so often and unpredictably that he seems to be everywhere at once.

By preference nocturnal, Bailey's black hair, goatee and clothing blend well with the night, and the long stretches of road are a fitting backdrop to the outrage and lust for vengeance that seethe beneath his exterior. He moves adeptly between two worlds; in one he's a modern country squire, in the other he's a flashy strip club owner.

But in both, circumstances have forged him into a rapacious hunter.

He's magnetic and mysterious, and his skin seems unnaturally pale and devoid of wrinkles for a 37-year-old father of four. With his pentagram-embroidered boots and LIVEVIL license plate, there's talk that he's a Satanist, or a vampire who uses his dark powers to suck people's energy. Bailey says he's neither, but he does what he can to perpetuate the rumors. They amuse him.

Eight months ago, Bailey vowed to avenge his murdered son by bringing those responsible to justice. His face was all over newscasts in the days following 20-year-old Cole Bailey Jr.'s death on October 16. Bailey's pale blue eyes shot bullets straight through the camera lens into living rooms across the Phoenix area. "I know some of your names already," he spat to the TV crews, referring to his son's assailants. "If the police don't find you . . . somebody will."

Bailey made good on his promise. He and his associates worked relentlessly on the case, sharing information with the cops. He took his son's story to national television, and two of the three men he believes are responsible have been caught.

But Bailey will not rest. "There's a good possibility this will end with my death," he says somberly. What was once a matter of bringing individuals to justice has grown into much more. It's not just particular skinheads who haunt him, although many names echo through his brain on these lonely moonlit drives. It's the skinhead community that breeds and harbors such men. It was that community that put him squarely in the vortex of hatred and violence.

Bailey parks his SUV, strides confidently into the Great Alaskan Bush Company and heads up the stairs to a private area. A woman in a g-string and stilettos swings around a pole onstage, shaking her head wildly to the strains of "Breakin' the Law" as multicolored lights lap at her body.

It's here that Bailey has chosen to be interviewed -- he's not a Starbucks kind of guy. He feels comfortable at this Grand Avenue strip club; friends own the place, his other son Aeron works here as a DJ, and security is tight. Which is important to Bailey. He believes there may come a day when skinheads come gunning for him, and a part of him would welcome such a confrontation. Like, say, the part of him that recently purchased a .50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol -- an enormous Israeli-made hand cannon that can shoot through a house. Bailey calls his gun the "Skinhead Hunter." The term might also be applied to him, though Slayer seems more appropriate; it's not hard to imagine Bailey as a black-clad, modern-day knight whose duty is to rid the land of marauding neo-Nazis.

"Let them come after me," he challenges. "I'm prepared for every attack."

About 8:30 p.m., Cole Bailey Jr. sauntered across the parking lot toward River City Pockets pool hall on Bell Road. He was freshly showered, and dressed in a button-down shirt, pants and black tennis shoes. Cole was slight at 5 feet, 10 inches and just 135 pounds. The sky was threatening rain as he entered the pool hall, dropped off a job application and walked back outside.

The young man, in love for the first time in his life, was eager to see his girlfriend; their romance had been tumultuous over the past months. The ex-wife of a good friend of Cole's father, she and Cole Jr. had fallen in love while bartending at a strip club, Bailey's Platinum Club West, that his dad then owned. When his dad discovered their romance, he'd been outraged and fired them both. Father and son didn't speak for a few months, and although their relationship had improved, Cole Sr. was still dishing out paternal reprimands. Notably, get a job!

Unemployed since his dad had told him his new love was "unacceptable," Cole Jr. hadn't been able to make the payments on his beloved Mustang, a ride he'd customized with the exact same graphics as the Mustang from The Fast and the Furious. The car had been impounded, and after a long talk with the bank a couple days earlier, Cole was determined to find a job and get his Mustang -- and, to some extent, his life -- back on track.

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Susy Buchanan