Feature

Chasing the Dragon

Did the KKK try to set up shop in Olathe? No one knows for sure, and almost no one wants to talk about it.

December 2006

Before he disappeared earlier this year, the last Grand Dragon of the Colorado Ku Klux Klan lived alone in his mother’s baby-blue doublewide in a field some 50 miles south of Grand Junction, just outside Olathe. The trailer occupied a typical sagebrush and dirt no-man’s-land of the sort found a few acres off any rural highway, a place where one person might go to relax and another might go to disappear, where the line between quaint and creepy is very narrow. The Dragon seems to have come down squarely on the creepy side. Those who knew him say he joined the military. They also readily admit that the Dragon was known chiefly for being dishonest. Truth is, no one is quite sure where he is.

He was 24 or 25 when he left town in January. He had few friends. Neighbors say he was an alcoholic and a drug addict. “He liked to have fun,” one of them told me. “You know, drinking and video games.” He also liked to tell stories. “Figuring out what to believe and what not to believe, that was the hard part,” says Mark Karalus, an acquaintance and neighbor who offered to put the Dragon up after his landlord, his mom, kicked him out last year. The Dragon told Karalus that he was an MP in the army. He told another neighbor that he was an officer in the sheriff’s department. In fact, he was unemployed, having been kicked out of a local police academy and fired from a job at Wal-Mart. “It’s just how he was,” Karalus says. “He always wanted to feel like the big shot.” After the Dragon moved in with Karalus, he tried to recruit him. He had a white hood and a certificate from the Imperial Wizard. “He said his uncle was head of the whole KKK and that he was the Grand Dragon of Colorado,” Karalus says. “He told me I didn’t know what I was missing. If he ever got in trouble he could just make one phone call.” Karalus was neither impressed nor interested. “You could still see the pillowcase tag through his white hood.”