Murder of an American Nazi
(CBS News) When Jeff Hall, a rising star in the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, was murdered last year by his own 10-year-old son, it seemed easy to blame the boy's exposure to violent rhetoric and guns. But, as correspondent Lesley Stahl reports, the truth is far more complicated. "60 Minutes" investigates the case and the growing strength of hate groups nationwide.
The following script is from "The Murder of an American Nazi" which originally aired on Sept. 25, 2011 and was rebroadcast on June 6, 2012. Lesley Stahl is the correspondent. Shachar Bar-On, producer.
60 Minutes Overtime
It was just over one year ago that the leader of a neo-Nazi group was murdered in Riverside, California. His name was Jeff Hall. He was a burly man, six-foot-three, a devoted father of five young children and a plumber who had been unemployed for three years. Jeff Hall was shot at near-zero range in his own living room. But, as we first reported in September, what was truly astonishing was who shot him.
[Jeff Hall at home: We've been through a lot together, some of us, you know. Seriously.]
This is 32-year-old Jeff Hall. These pictures were taken just hours before he was executed - right in this room. The executioner - this child: his son. His 10-year-old son. But if you find this image disturbing, consider this one: taken two weeks earlier.
A neo-Nazi rally on the streets of Trenton, New Jersey.
[Hall at rally: Who's streets?
Crowd: Our streets!
Hall: Who's streets?
Crowd: Our streets!
Hall: Who's streets?
Crowd: Our streets! Zeig Heil!
Hall delivering speech: We are not afraid of you!]
Jeff Hall was a rising star in the largest neo-Nazi group in the country, the National Socialist Movement, or NSM.
[Crowd at rally: Zeig Heil!]
The numbers nationwide are still small - 500 members tops, but they're growing.
[Hall: This isn't dress up, this isn't a game. We are fighting for our children's future.]
According to Jeff Hall and the NSM that future would be an all-white, non-Semitic America.
[Hall: There's other groups I could join. There's tons of them.]
Jeff Hall joined only three years ago - but seen as personable and charismatic, he quickly became the leader of NSM in California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada.
[Hall: Zeig Heil! Zeig Heil! Zeig Heil!]
This footage was shot by Julie Platner, a filmmaker and photographer, who was able to gain the NSM's trust.
[Nazi: How ya doin' Miss Julie?]
And enter their closed world of private meetings.
[Hall: Julie has me mic'ed]
She quickly honed in on Jeff Hall.
[Hall: Jeff, nice to meet you.]
Jeff Hall cultivated a sense of family among his new recruits. Holding his monthly meetings at his house, with the kids around, including his son Joseph.
These gatherings were a strange mix of Nazi propaganda.
[Hall: That's how we apply what we learn from "Mein Kampf."]
And party games. A birthday celebration topped off by -
[Recruits: Happy birthday! Zeig Heil!]
Jeff's mother Joann Patterson went to some of her son's meetings, despite abhorring her son's politics.
Joann Patterson: I wanted to make sure it was okay for my grandkids to be there. And I had a great time. It looked like any barbecue in any backyard in America. The food was great.
Lesley Stahl: But they were Nazis. We're just sitting here talking about Nazis.
Patterson: I know, it's crazy.
Stahl: They're in your own family.
Patterson: I know, it's crazy, huh?
Stahl: "My son became a Nazi."
Patterson: Yeah. A Nazi leader!
On Saturday, April 30, her son, Jeff held what would be his last get-together. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, to the extent this is ordinary.
[Joseph Hall: I'm going outside...]
10-year-old Joseph was running in and out of the house. All the kids were. Dad even took some of them to see his Nazi glow in the dark t-shirt - with its SS insignia.
[Hall: Ok, come here - close the door
Hall: It's the little things in life!]
This is the last recorded image of Jeff Hall alive. After people left that night, the family watched a movie, "Yogi Bear," as Jeff slept on the couch. The others went upstairs to bed. Then, at 4:02 a.m.
[911 Operator: 911 Emergency
Krista Hall: My son shot my husband, I need an ambulance, he's bleeding!
Operator: How old is your son?
Operator: How old is your son??
Krista: 10! God!]
Stahl: You were the first detective at the scene after the murder, is that correct?
Greg Rowe: That's correct.
Detective Greg Rowe saw Jeff Hall dead on the couch. He says little Joseph, who was found hiding upstairs under his covers, described calmly how he had gotten the family's Rossi 357 Magnum from his dad's closet.
Rowe: Went downstairs and shot his dad. He described how he used his forefingers to cock the gun. And used two fingers to pull the trigger and he pointed it at his ear.
Stahl:This was not a case of a kid thinking it was a toy and letting it go off by accident?
Rowe: There's no evidence this was anything but intentional.
Prosecutor Michael Soccio.
Soccio: When he was taken into juvenile hall, he's so little, they didn't have shoes to fit him. So they had to go out and buy him a little pair of tennis shoes. And he asked if he'd be able to keep the shoes when he left. Which showed an absolute lack of understanding of what was going to be happening.
The Department of Justice reports only nine cases of a 10-year-old killing a parent since 1980. But then, how many American kids are raised by a Nazi?
Stahl: When you heard that the victim was the head of the local Nazi organization, did you just think to yourself that that had something to do with it?
Soccio: When I first heard it I thought: there's got to be some connection with Nazi views, with guns, with weapons, with violence.
Stahl: Hate speech.
Soccio: Hate speech, sure.
That was just about everyone's assumption. So we set out to discover why Jeff Hall became a Nazi three years ago.
Patterson: I think the biggest factor that contributed was the economy. When the housing market just fell apart in California, he had no work. He hadn't worked for three years.
Stahl: He was in construction?
Patterson: He was in construction.
Stahl: And that side of the economy, down here, just completely dried up?
Patterson: Completely dried up. And he tried and tried and tried to get work. It's just scary. Poverty is a really scary thing.
Jeff lived in the Inland Empire, a vast stretch of California desert, east of L.A. It was among the worst hit when the real estate market crashed, ranking fifth in foreclosures nationwide. Entire communities became ghost towns. Unemployment reached 15 percent. Jeff was poor and angry, with time on his hands, when he came upon Jeff Schoep, commander of the National Socialist Movement.
Schoep at New Jersey rally: You have illegal aliens coming over the border, streaming over in hoards, taking American jobs.
Neo-Nazis focus their tirades lately on immigrants and the so-called "browning of America" where places like California no longer have a white majority.
Schoep: We're a white civil rights organization.
Stahl: What does that mean?
Schoep: Basically, what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton do for black people we do for white people.
Well, not exactly. I read to commander Jeff Schoep this, from the NSM's website:
Stahl: "All non-whites should leave this nation peacefully or by force."
Schoep: Our ideal America would be an America that's all white. That doesn't mean--
Stahl: Yeah. And everybody else has to leave, "peacefully or by force." Wow.
Schoep: Our goal is a white homeland.
Stahl: I mean, the president's not white; our attorney general's not white. So they should leave? What about Jews?
Schoep: They're also a race of people.
Stahl: So they should leave?
He knows that won't happen anytime soon, but he's preparing. Ten white supremacists of various groups were on the ballot in 2010, including three for Congress. One candidate seeking local office was Jeff Hall.
Schoep at New Jersey rally: Jeff Hall ran for election in California and took in almost 30 percent of the vote as an open National Socialist.
Hall: It was a good run, it was a great run!
Beside that unsuccessful run for local water board, Jeff organized patrols at the Mexican border, just a short drive from his home. They would show up fully armed, with night-vision equipment, and round up migrants as they crossed into the U.S. Two weeks before his death, Jeff bragged about taking his young son with him on patrol.
[Hall: My son was able to operate a Gen-1 night vision and the infrared scope. At the age of 9, my son's out at the border.]
So was being exposed to all that hate and talk of violence the reason Joseph murdered his dad?
[Hall: You got to get your Glucks cocked and get ready to rock and roll at the border.]
The more we looked, the more we realized it wasn't that cut and dry.
Megan Hall: There might have been some things that we didn't know about Jeff, that we didn't-- we wouldn't have liked.
Megan Hall, Jeff's sister, says she hated her brother's politics, but had always seen him as a model father.
Megan: He was an amazing father and would do anything for his kids. And you know, my nephew would just look at him like he was his hero.
But in the last couple of years the hero changed; darkened. Whether it was the power of being a Nazi leader, or the powerlessness of being unemployed, he drank more she says, and was prone to striking out at his son, and his wife Krista.
Megan: My brother had shown a different side to him. Not all of the time. It was on random occasions, not predictable.
Stahl: He was beating up both Joe and Krista is what we heard. Is that what you've been told?
Young Joseph told police that he decided to kill his dad to quote "end the son versus father thing."
Stahl: Did he describe what the abuse entailed?
Rowe: He described his father hitting him, kicking him, pushing him.
Soccio: He found himself in a situation or believed he was in a situation that required some type of desperate act. What's unusual about Joseph Hall is that his solution to it was to kill. Most children don't think about, "What I'll need to do here is kill my father."
As the police began to dig, they discovered that little Joseph was a volatile and violent child, who had been kicked out of several schools for attacking students and staff, once nearly choking a teacher with a phone-cord.
Patterson: My grandson was who he was from the time he was born.
Stahl: What do you mean?
Patterson: He has absolutely no understanding of cause and effect.
Stahl: It is so rare that a 10-year-old would kill a father.
Patterson: Uh huh. Well, but you know, I wasn't surprised by it. I just somehow felt it could always happen. But I thought it would be when he's older.
Stahl: Would this have happened if Jeff had not become a Nazi?
Patterson: I think so. Probably later. Joe was still Joe and they weren't having a lot of luck figuring out exactly what his problems were. Or how to deal successfully with them.
Little Joseph also had a history of starting fires.
Stahl: Does he raise the question of whether a killer can be preprogrammed?
Soccio: I think he had everything physically in place that it didn't take much to bring him along to thinking that murder's appropriate.
Stahl: So he was born the match, and that environment and that home lit the match. Is that a fair way to say it?
Soccio: I think it's a very fair way to say it.
Jeff's mother got custody of his four little girls, because his wife pled guilty to leaving a loaded gun in the house. And every week Patterson visits her son's young killer in juvenile hall.
Patterson: It's a struggle every day of my life. Because my son was murdered and I want justice for him.
Patterson: But only at the ex-- that only happens at the expense of my grandson.
Stahl: What about politics with these children? Do you feel any obligation to teach them about Nazis?
Patterson: They're being raised conservative Republican. We need more of those in California.
Stahl: But what about Nazism?
Patterson: It's gone, for this family.
Joseph awaits trial, incarcerated at the county's juvenile hall, where he celebrated his 11th birthday. Whatever his sentence, he will likely be released by the age of 25.
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