Chris Simcox went from lone sentry on the Arizona border to the leader of thousands of armed civilian volunteers as part of the Minuteman movement to a frequent speaker before Congress to a U.S. senatorial candidate — all in five years.
Now bounty hunters are looking for him in order to serve an order of protection for his estranged wife as part of a messy divorce case in which he is accused in court records of threatening to kill her, their three children and any police officers who try to protect them.
Knowing the border region as he does as a founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, many think he is hiding in the desert.
Documents filed by Fugitive Recovery Services of Arizona, a state-licensed company that tracks bail jumpers, locates fugitives and assists in the recovery of missing assets, said Mr. Simcox, 49, is the subject of an order of protection sought by his wife, Alena Simcox, and signed April 16 by a magistrate in Superior Court in Phoenix.
The petition for the order alleges that Mr. Simcox threatened his wife and their children with a loaded handgun, saying he would kill them and any police officers who came to their aid. The order demands that Mr. Simcox not contact his wife or children, that he stay away from their home and that he surrender his firearms to the Scottsdale Police Department.
"Chris Simcox may still be in possession of a firearm, and should be considered armed and dangerous," the Fugitive Recovery Services said. "Mr. Simcox is aware of the [protection order] and is currently evading any form of proper service, and is now considered in hiding."
Mr. Simcox did not respond to telephone calls or e-mails. On his Web page, he said in a rambling report that while he was "compelled … by a divine power" to create the Minuteman movement and that he spent nine years of his life trying to fulfill the mission, his effort had led to his "falling short in all my relationships, most notably my duty to my wife and family."
"At this stage of my life and after applying my obligation to love my country I now must love with my whole person; I must commit to love my God first, my family second and my duty to country, as important as it is, now comes behind my primary duties to get my whole person behind my nexus of love, my feelings, my thoughts, my actions — my God and my family come first," he said in an undated post that references events that have occurred this month.
His attorney, John Acer, said in a statement that his client denied any domestic abuse.
In court documents, Mrs. Simcox, 30, said her husband of four years threatened her in November with a gun that he "repeatedly pointed at me, saying he was going to kill me, and my kids, and the police." She said the ordeal lasted six hours, during which she locked herself and her children in a bedroom until he passed out.
Afraid for her safety, the documents said, she did not call the police. She said he "was waiting by the door for the police to come, with a gun pointed at me."
In a separate incident in August, the records show, she said Mr. Simcox got drunk on their wedding anniversary, loaded a revolver and, with his children present, asked her to shoot him. The documents say that when she said no, he said "he would shoot the entire family and cops."
Jim Gilchrist, a retired California certified public accountant and combat-wounded Vietnam veteran who helped Mr. Simcox form the MCDC in April 2005, said he thinks his former co-founder is hiding in the Arizona desert.
"He's got a lot of experience living in the outback and I believe that's exactly where he is," Mr. Gilchrist said, adding that it would be in Mr. Simcox's best interest to surrender.
"Chris got carried away by the fame he attained and he often was treated like a rock star," he said. "Eventually, as the notoriety grew, he exalted himself to the status of an icon. He became a bully."
Mr. Gilchrist and Mr. Simcox parted ways over policy and financing differences in 2005 after the Minuteman movement had shut down 23 miles of Arizona-Mexico border to illegal immigration during a 30-day period.
Stacey O'Connell, a former MCDC organizer who served as the organization's Arizona state chapter director, said running from being served an order of protection "only shows his weak character traits that Mr. Simcox hid from the public and the campaigns he served."
"Chris Simcox, while an outwardly courageous well-spoken patriot, has proven time and time again to have a propensity for deception, lies and violence in his life," Mr. O'Connell said. "Once a man who claimed to be in support of law enforcement, he has now allegedly threatened to kill police officers and his own family, and is now proven to be in hiding in Cochise County Arizona.
"I have a message for Mr Simcox: come out into the open and meet with [the Fugitive Recovery Services] and Cochise County sheriff deputies to be served," he said. "From there, you can work to rebuild your reputation, work to remain in your children's lives, and get help to move past this dark period in your own life. It's the only way forward."
Mrs. Simcox's allegations were first reported by the alternative news weekly Phoenix New Times.
At the time, Mr. Simcox was working as an adviser to U.S. senatorial candidate J.D. Hayworth, a former U.S. congressman who is vying for the seat now held by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. Mr. Simcox dropped out of the race after Mr. Hayworth announced his candidacy.
The new divorce allegations are not the first time Mr. Simcox has faced an angry wife. Two former wives have accused him in court documents of violent conduct.
Mr. Simcox founded the Minuteman movement in April 2005 along with Mr. Gilchrist, enlisting the help of thousands of civilian volunteers over the next four years to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border and report suspected illegal immigrants to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Prior to that, he headed a small group of Arizona residents known as the Civil Homeland Defense who patrolled the border for illegal immigrants. In January 2003, federal park rangers arrested him on charges of illegally carrying a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun in a national park. At the time of the arrest, records show, he also carried a police scanner, two walkie-talkies and a toy figure of Wyatt Earp on horseback.
Eventually, however, a growing number of Minuteman leaders and volunteers questioned the whereabouts of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars in donations to the MCDC, challenging the organization's leadership over financial accountability.
Many of the group's most active members said they had no idea how much money had been collected as part of its effort to stop illegal entry, how it had been spent or why it had been funneled through a Virginia-based charity headed by conservative Alan Keyes.
Several of the group's top lieutenants either quit or were fired by Mr. Simcox. The MCDC disbanded in March. The financial problems were first reported by The Washington Times.
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