A white-supremacist border vigilante who was ordained into the Mormon Church priesthood by the sponsor of Arizona’s immigration law apparently slaughtered a toddler and three others before killing himself in a quiet Phoenix suburb Wednesday.
In his final act of attention-getting, Jason Todd Ready, 39, evidently shot and killed his 47-year-old girlfriend, Lisa Lynn Mederos, a homemaker; her 23-year-old daughter, Amber Mederos, a Wendy’s worker; Amber’s 16-month-old toddler, Lily, and Jim “Jambob” Hiott, a 24-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan who had moved from South Carolina to be with girlfriend Amber.
Another woman, Gilbert Police spokesman Sgt. Bill Balafas told The Daily Beast, was in the house but escaped. The home, where Ready had lived with Lisa Mederos, contained “hazardous chemicals and military-grade munitions.”
The Arizona bloodbath apparently stemmed from a domestic dispute, police theorize. But a post-mortem statement by “admin” on Ready’s Facebook pages seemed scripted by Ready himself, and indicated that Ready hoped to nail the killings on his favorite imagined enemies: narcoterrorists.
“Reports are unconfirmed that a cartel assassination squad murdered JT Ready and several of his friends and family this afternoon in Gilbert Arizona. This page’s admin will keep you updated of the situation as soon as possible, “ the posts said.
I first met Ready in 2009, when he was stomping on a Mexican flag in an effort to provoke marchers protesting alleged abuses of migrants by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. At the time, Ready was carrying a flag with a swastika and dressed like a storm trooper. I saw him again some months later, goose-stepping down the streets of Phoenix with fellow White Nationalists in a meeting he helped organize.
He was a disgraced Marine, exiled Republican precinct committeeman, and failed city-council candidate who is most famous in Arizona for his publicity-seeking white supremacist stunts and his association with Arizona’s immigration-law sponsor, now-recalled state senator Russell Pearce.
Two years ago, Ready told me Pearce was his “mentor” and “surrogate father figure” who “groomed me” for a “national-level” political career. Pearce, Ready said, espoused “neo-Nazi philosophy completely.”
“We laughed at Mexican jokes right on his porch,” Ready said of Pearce.
In a statement, Pearce said, “Regarding whether I knew JT Ready, I did, as did many of us who have been involved in [city of] Mesa politics for a long time. When we first met JT he was fresh out of the Marine Corp and seemed like a decent person. He worked as a telephone fundraiser for Christian and pro-life groups, he dated the daughter of one of our District 18 members …” (District 18 was Pearce’s district, until he got recalled. He is now running for the state Senate in a different district.)
Pearce went on to excoriate the media for linking him to Ready: “On the very day that these unspeakable crimes take place, editors and producers all over town are making a concerted effort to make the story about a politician whose conservative politics they disagree with … Today, the Devil won and claimed the soul of one young man and the lives of others, including the most innocent of all, a child.”
Although Ready had been singled out in 2007 by the Anti-Defamation League and The Southern Poverty Law Center as a dangerous nativist and white supremacist, Pearce did not distance himself from Ready until 2008, bowing, perhaps, to political pressure from Republican leaders who viewed Ready as too extreme.
Ready seemed hurt when Pearce banished him. “It’s wrong to hate the haters,” he told me.
At the time of his death, Ready was running for sheriff of Pinal County and operating a sketchy border-vigilante group called the U.S. Border Guard. Like most of Ready’s projects, the U.S. Border Guard got media attention when it was started in 2010 following the passage of SB 1070, Arizona’s immigration law—it was even featured on MTV.
But then it sank into obscurity.
Ready’s last post on the U.S. Border Guard website, which has since been taken down, read: “I have seen fair weather ‘patriots’ come and go. I am still here. For many years, I still patrol the border and put my boots where my words are. And I will continue to defend our nation for many years to come!”
The post featured a photo of Ready, an overweight man in a scraggly goatee, dressed in a too-tight camouflage uniform, standing alone in the desert.
The U.S. Border Guard site was last uploaded on April 30, with pictures of Ready, a dog, and his weapons.
Ready’s U.S. Border Guard claims were largely unfounded. He told me, for instance, that he rounded up more migrants than immigration-hawk Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. He said he ran humanitarian missions and that he was no longer a Nazi. He claimed to work on multi-agency terrorist task forces, and in joint “ops” to combat narcoterrorists.
His military lingo resembled that of Shawna Forde, a beautician-turned-border-vigilante who was sentenced to death last year for slaughtering a 9-year-old Latina child and her father in a botched home-invasion “op” on the Arizona border. Forde still claims she is innocent.
Two migrants were gunned down April 8 by camouflage-clad militia types in Eloy, not far from where Ready conducted his “ops.” But Pima County sheriff's spokesman Dawn Barkman said Ready was not a suspect in that particular crime.
The migrant shootings, coupled with the Forde home invasion and the Ready bloodbath, said Mark Potok, a senior fellow of the Southern Poverty Law Center, are signs of “the virulent racism and violence in the nativist movement” in Arizona.
On the day before he died, Ready railed on Facebook against “hostile media, narco-terrorists, cartel invasion, narco-insurgency, street gangs the size of armies, vicious prison gangs—if not fight back now while we have a chance then when? The decent patriots will arise and take the helm if we lead the way.”
He ended the post this way: “Long live the Republic!”