A 35-year-old white nationalist, seen carrying a tiki torch in a photo that became a symbol of a white supremacist rally in 2017, shot himself to death the day he was scheduled to appear in a federal courtroom to face drug smuggling charges.
Teddy Joseph Von Nukem, born Ted Landrum, faced charges after his arrest at the U.S.-Mexico border in March 2021. He failed to attend a court hearing on Jan. 30, 2023, court documents said.
It was the same day the coroner in Texas County, Mo. reported he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a hay shed on his property.
“His wife states she last saw him last evening when he went to load the furnace,” the coroner’s report said. “This morning, when she noticed he wasn’t in the house, she went out to look for him due to a court date today and found him in the hay shed with an obvious gunshot wound and called 911.”
He had been facing federal charges in Arizona for possession with the intent to distribute 400 grams of fentanyl, court documents say. The charges were dropped on Friday.
Court records said he was arrested on March 17, 2021, when he tried to enter the border crossing at the Lukeville Port of Entry in Lukeville, Arizona, in a Nissan Pathfinder. During an inspection of his vehicle, Customs and Border Protection officers found 14 packages of a white powdery substance that tested positive for fentanyl, records show.
He said he was paid about 4,000 Mexican pesos, about 216 U.S. dollars, to smuggle, but denied knowing it was fentanyl he was smuggling, court documents said.
He was seen in an image from the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017. The rally turned violent. People were beaten, and torches were thrown. At the rally, avowed neo-Nazi James Alex Fields, Jr. plowed a car through a crowd and killed Heather Heyer.
His obituary said he was born in Phoenix and left what he always referred to as his “meat suit” on Jan. 30 in Hartshorn, Missouri, 177 miles southeast of St. Louis. He’s survived by his wife and five children.
“Teddy enjoyed visiting with people, talking to strangers, meditating, video games and board games, but most of all, he loved dancing with each of his daughters every evening when he came home from work,” the obit said. “Some people knew Ted and understood he was a different type of fellow and had different views of things, but he would give the shirt off his back if you asked or needed it.”
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