Accused Far-Right Killer Has Bizarre, Troubled Past

June 16, 2009 1:18 p.m.

So this morning, the story of Shawna Forde — the alleged ringleader in the recent murder of a nine-year-old girl and her father near the US-Mexico border — appeared to be pretty run-of-the-mill stuff: it looked like your standard plot to start a “revolution against the US government” by recruiting members of the Aryan Nations to a vigilante anti-immigrant border-patrol group, in order to rob Mexican drug cartels, then use that money to free kidnap victims in Syria.

Dog bites man, we figured.But now, after piecing together various reports, a fuller picture of Forde’s background — and her whacked-out anti-immigrant obsession — has started to emerge. And it sounds like that’s just the half of it. Here’s what we know about her:

* Forde, 41, has juvenile convictions for felonies, prostitution and other crimes in Snohomish County, Washington. She’s been married and divorced four times, and has been fired from numerous jobs.

* In 2007, she ran for the city council in Everett, Washington, on a platform that emphasized opposition to immigration. But she fell short after being convicted of shoplifting a container of chocolate milk.

* She’s spent much of the last three years combing the Arizona desert for signs of illegal immigrants. She believes that illegals are helping terrorists sneak “dirty bomb” materials into the US, posing a grave national security threat. She also believes that federal government is in league with the UN to allow unchecked immigration.

* At a 2006 PBS-sponsored forum at which she claimed to be both a member of the Minutemen and a representative of the supposedly more mainstream anti-immigration group FAIR, Forde railed against immigrants and declared: “We will not stop until we get the results that we need to have.”

* In addition to running her own border-patrol group, Minuteman American Defense, she had also worked with the more established Minutemen Civil Defense Corps movement. But Jeff Schwilk, the leader of the San Diego Minutemen, has said she was so unstable that he tried to get rid of her. “I’ve been concerned about her and her impact on our movement,” he said. “Irrational people with assault rifles at the border is a recipe for disaster.”

* The Arizona robbery and murder with which she’s been charged may not be her only such crime. Piecing together several news reports, it appears that in early May, Forde visited her mother and brother in Redding, California. Forde works on the side as a hair stylist, and while she was styling the hair of Lynette Myers, a friend of her mother’s, Myers told her that she’d recently received a large inheritance in cash, and planned to keep it at home. A few days later, Forde called her mother, Rena Caudle, and asked her for Myers’ address, saying she wanted to send her a package of hair-care supplies. The package never arrived. But the following month, Myers and her husband reported being robbed at gunpoint by two men dressed as US Marshals. The couple has since identified one of them men as Jason Bush, the ex-con with ties to Neo-Nazis who’s suspected of being the triggerman in the Arizona murders. Police are now investigating Forde’s possible role in the crime as well.

There’s more though…

* Late last year and into January of this year, Forde was at the center of a string of what she said were violent attacks. First, her husband was shot in what was reported as an ambush at his home in Everett. A week later, Forde herself called a local newspaper to report that she had been beaten and raped at the same house. She claimed the attack was retaliation for her work on the border, and blamed the Salvadoran street gang MS-13. She posted pictures on her website — since removed — showing what she said were injuries to her thighs and buttocks. Forde was quickly accused by bloggers of perpetrating a hoax, and even the anti-immigration Americans for Legal Immigration PAC indicated they were suspicious of her story. Then weeks later, she was found in an alley in Everett with gunshot wounds to her arm.

And now she’s been charged in the Arizona killings. Forde’s own family sounds like they’ve had enough of her. Her mother said that after Forde’s arrest, she declined Forde’s request to use her as a reference in hope of being released on $1 million bail. And her brother says, “She’s a sociopath. She lies so much she believes her own lies.”

The TPM Journalism Fund: A New Way To Support TPM
We're launching the TPM Journalism Fund as an additional way for readers and members to support TPM. Every dollar contributed goes toward:
  • -Hiring More Journalists
  • -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism
Are you experiencing financial hardship?
Apply for a free community-supported membership
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: