Thirty-three years ago, Shep Moyle, a cub reporter, spent more than two hours surrounded by people in Nazi garb and armed with guns as he interviewed a man he knew as Glenn Miller.
During that time, Moyle heard Miller's radical and deeply held views on the superiority of the white race and how all non-whites were inferior and to blame for all the woes of the world.
"I never imagined that kind of hate could exist," Moyle, now the co-owner with his wife, Wendy, of ShinDigz, a party-supply business in South Whitley, said Tuesday evening.
Miller, known legally as Frazier Glenn Cross, stands accused of gunning down three people Sunday in Overland Park, Kan., likely because he thought they were Jewish.
But three decades ago, Miller was grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and ran a paramilitary training camp in rural North Carolina near the town of Angier, about 45 miles south of Duke University.
Moyle, a freshman at Duke University, was supposed to go along for the interview in the role of photographer for The Chronicle, Duke University's student newspaper, but an unexpected series of events thrust him into role of interviewer.
The tension was thick from the moment he and senior editor Robert Satloff arrived at the compound on that sweltering North Carolina day in 1981.
"When we got there, they immediately met us at the car; … everyone was armed," Moyle said.
The two were taken to Miller, but the plan quickly changed when a guard told Miller he thought Satloff was Jewish.
Satloff is Jewish, but his best efforts at the time to disguise his features, including cutting his hair short, shaving his beard and donning a necklace with a cross, weren't enough for the Klansmen. Escorted by armed guards, Satloff spent the duration of the interview confined to his car and under their watch.
Moyle's physical traits and hometown meant he got a pass from Miller.
"In Miller's twisted world, I was blond-haired and blue-eyed from Indiana, so in his perspective, I met the criteria of being worthy to speak with him," Moyle said, but that didn't make it any less unsettling watching his friend being held under armed guard.
He described Miller as someone with a compelling personality and understood why he was able to recruit like-minded people to his cause, which included a violent overthrow of the government if necessary.
"His beliefs were so virulent, strong, so violent," Moyle said.
Nevertheless, Moyle was astounded when he heard the allegations against Miller for the killings in Kansas.
"I was absolutely shocked that this man could hold so much hate for so long and … to act on it. It's really beyond belief," Moyle said.
He said Miller was not a person for passive conversation and would become animated and forceful as he discussed how non-whites were dominating society and in control of the world's financial institutions.
Miller eventually ran for various government offices in North Carolina on the platform of white supremacy.
"He certainly realized and wanted to try to use traditional means of power, but if that didn't work, violence might be required," Moyle said of Miller's views on how to change the United States to a nation of his liking.
After the interview, Moyle got a tour of the 27-acre compound, including the firing range where people were training with automatic weapons for the day they would overthrow the government of North Carolina.
Finally, the time came for the photo that originally brought Moyle along for the trip, but he wasn't going to get it easily.
The only way Miller would allow him, or anyone at the facility, to be photographed was if Moyle would pony up $5.
After weighing the ethics of paying to take a photo, he decided it would be worth it and gave a $5 "donation" of sorts so he could photograph the people at the firing range and others in full KKK attire.
With story and photo in hand, Moyle and Satloff journeyed to downtown Angier, where they found the locals accepting of the beliefs and activities at the training compound.
Moyle and Satloff never imagined the material they would get. They ended up devoting the university newspaper to a series of stories instead of just a standalone article for one day's issue.
As they crafted their piece throughout the next few nights, Moyle's car was vandalized and they received many threats from people likely affiliated with the compound. Those threats said the reporters had better write a favorable article.
Once published, the story got picked up by national news services and garnered far more attention than either Moyle or Satloff had dreamed.
Moyle and Satloff kept in touch a little throughout the years, but before Tuesday, when Satloff sent an article he wrote about Miller to Moyle, the two never revisited that stressful and dangerous time they spent in rural North Carolina.
"I'm just so sorry it happened and that he (Miller) acted on those beliefs; … my heart goes out to the families," Moyle said.