The granddaughter of a white supremacist who preached hatred of Jews and police — and who kidnapped six of his grandchildren from North Dakota two decades ago — says he might be “setting up shop” in Kulm, N.D.
Shannon Maresh said in an interview Tuesday afternoon that her grandfather, Gordon Winrod, might be planning to start a church — “Or a cult, in my mind,” Maresh said — in the old Kulm school building. The building was recently purchased at auction by Sam and Laura Leppert, Maresh’s aunt and uncle. Laura Leppert is Winrod’s daughter.
Maresh originally went public with her fears Tuesday morning on Facebook, when she posted:
“Edgeley and surrounding area friends: I’m not sure if you remember the years of my life where my parents were afraid to leave me alone for fear I would disappear. You may have even been concerned about your own children. This fear even extended to the school. My siblings and cousins disappeared and I quickly became an only child. My family was shattered. The man responsible was Gordon Winrod. He and his followers have one creed: to hate everyone who doesn’t believe as they do and follow Gordon Winrod’s teachings. We, you…us? We are all ‘blood sucking Jews,’ whatever that means. The point is, he and his followers fully believe that if you aren’t one of them it is not wrong to steal, cheat, lie, or kill you. Well, he is back. He was released from jail after being convicted of kidnapping and brainwashing. He is now setting up shop in the old Kulm school. Hide your kids. Hide your wives. And whatever you do, don’t drink the Cool Aid. Seriously though. This man is a predator and his followers are dangerous.”
In a phone interview later, Maresh said she has talked with relatives who said Gordon Winrod is living with Sam and Laura Leppert in rural LaMoure County.
“I want people in the community and state to know what’s happening,” Maresh said. “I don’t want what happened to my family to happen to other families. I want to prevent that from happening to anybody else.”
Maresh was the only one of her siblings to not be kidnapped by her grandfather.
Winrod, 90, served 10 years of a 30-year sentence after kidnapping six of his grandchildren from the Edgeley area in 1994 and 1995 and taking them to his rural Missouri farm to indoctrinate them with his white supremacist beliefs. He was released in 2012.
Winrod was arrested in 2000 after law enforcement raided his farm in Ozark County, Mo. It took officials several days to coax his grandchildren out of a secret bunker on the farm. Authorities said the children had been brainwashed.
Erika Schumacher, one of Maresh’s sisters who was kidnapped, testified against Winrod in a civil trial in 2002 that the children were used as armed guards on the 400-acre farm.
“If police tried to grab us, we were to defend ourselves with (the pistol),” Erika told the jury, according to the Ozark County Times newspaper.
Phone calls to Kulm mayor Tony Buerkley were not immediately returned. City councilman Dale Gackle said he learned of the possibility of Winrod moving to Kulm only after Maresh’s Facebook post.
LaMoure County Sheriff Bob Fernandes said he received several phone calls alerting him to Maresh’s post, but didn’t know whether Winrod was moving to Kulm or not. He said he spent some time Tuesday searching the Internet for information about Winrod.
Gloria Gackle, a Kulm resident and wife of Dale, said the mid-1990s were a terrifying time for LaMoure County residents because Winrod sent threatening letters to the Edgeley and Kulm area.
“He’s just a lunatic. It sounds so much like a white supremacy thing,” Gloria said. “This could get ugly.”
According to an Associated Press story about Winrod’s capture in 2000, he occasionally published a newsletter that “railed against Jews as bent on the destruction of all non-Jews and asserts that Jews control the media, law enforcement, government and banking. He refers to anyone in law enforcement and the criminal justice as ‘Jewdicials.'”
Gordon Winrod is the son of the Rev. Gerald Winrod, known as the “Jayhawk Nazi” for his anti-Semitic activities in Kansas in the 1930s and 1940s.