called, says Joseph Roy
, "it was like the Osama Bin Laden of the movement calling in."
Roy is chief investigator of hate and extreme groups for the SPLC.
"Very rarely have we met a reformed racist skinhead," says Roy
Over the years, Roy
had dubbed Widner
the "pit bull" of skinheads.
"No one was more aggressive, more confrontational, more notorious," Roy
And yet, over several weeks of conversations with Bryon and Julie, he
There was something different about this couple - a sincerity, a raw determination to put the past behind them and to seek some sort of redemption.
In March 2007 Roy
and an assistant flew to Michigan.
still marvels at the memory of the guy with the freakish face walking out to greet them, wearing a "World's Greatest Dad" sweat shirt, holding his
baby boy in one arm while a little girl clung to his
was in a bad place," Roy
promised to ask his
organization to do something it had never done before - search for a donor to pay for Widner's tattoos to be surgically removed.
So when Roy
called a couple of months later saying a donor was willing to pay for the surgery, Widner
could hardly believe it.