St George News

Federal agents arrest man accused of violating family’s civil rights

ST. GEORGE – A Hurricane man was arrested on a federal warrant Tuesday after failing to appear in court in Salt Lake City. The man faces federal charges related to an alleged hate crime from December 2013 in which he threatened an interracial family.

Robert Keller, 70, of Hurricane, was arrested by federal agents after twice failing to respond to a summons to appear in federal district court, Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney, said in an email. The first scheduled appearance was for May 12, with the second set for May 19.

Mr. Keller failed to appear for initial appearance,” Rydalch said. “We agreed (an) agent would reach out to see if the summons had been served and to make sure he knew when the next court date was.”

When Keller failed to appear a second time, a warrant was issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Evelyn J. Furse at the U.S. Attorney’s request, Rydalch said. Keller will make an appearance in federal district court on Thursday.

According to booking information, Keller was taken into custody by the FBI.

Keller faces two misdemeanor charges related to interfering with another person’s right to fair housing via threats of intimidation, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney. In this case, the man is accused of leaving threatening notes for an interracial family at the the Quail Lake Estates in Hurricane.

According to a probable cause statement, a Hurricane City Police officer responded to a call from the Quail Lake Estates on Dec. 30, 2013, where one of the victims showed him a letter that had been left at the housing complex’s clubhouse. The envelope had her name and her husband’s name written on it. The person who had written the letter made threats against the woman’s family for raising and living with an African American. The woman told the police that her brother, who is of African descent, had moved in with them several weeks earlier.

Language in the letter referred to the woman’s brother by using the N-word. He, along with the others, were also threatened. “If I catch that…around my daughter, I’ll kill his…and then come find what stupid person brought him here in the first place,” the person behind the letter wrote. That person also wrote that the couple was “headed for some big trouble and you won’t like the outcome,” according to the probable cause statement.

Another note, one left on the family’s car two days prior, allegedly said no blacks were allowed in the area and the couple should move to Africa if they wanted to live with and raise a black individual.

Keller was ultimately identified by the victims as being the man who placed the letter at the clubhouse after the victims watched surveillance footage. The officer contacted Keller who, according to the probable cause statement, admitted writing the letter. He also apparently told the officer he moved from Salt Lake City to Southern Utah in order to get away from “them,” referring to black people.

Keller was booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on a misdemeanor charge related to violating the family’s civil rights. Keller pleaded not guilty to the charge. He was also able to post bail and leave Purgatory.

No new court dates have been set in Keller’s federal case but his Fifth District Court has been set for review on Sept. 2.

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  7 Comments
  1. Red Rocker May 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm · Reply

    I would never have expected this in Utah.

    RR

    • You're Kidding, right? May 22, 2014 at 11:20 am · Reply

      You’re kidding right? In Dixie, I’ve met some of the most racist people in my life.

  2. JOSH DALTON May 22, 2014 at 8:09 am · Reply

    Lets not forget that we do live in a place that is called “Dixie” Something like this is common back home in Georgia (The real Dixie). The only difference is that it is 2014. Younger folks have to understand that this is just residual negativity left over from a generation of ignorant people. These are the same ignorant people we have to respect as our elders. They got us here. They are ignorant not stupid. I have worked with this man before in the past. Like I have mentioned before I am a black man. I did not experience ant racism from this guy when I met him. He was one of my customers.

  3. Mean momma May 22, 2014 at 9:54 am · Reply

    What an ignorant pos! He’s lucky it wasn’t my son he said these things to. Hope he gets an “ethnic” cell mate who finds him attractive.

  4. D Hodja May 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm · Reply

    Ignorance and arrogance arre spawned here by the cultural belief system that dominates every aspect of life in Southern Utah…over time people will learn archaic religious beliefs should never override being a decent human being. From neighbors who judge and gossip and alienate those who are different and don’t attend the same meetings on Sunday to these types of prejudices, it can be a difficult place to live for anyone being true to who they are and harder for those born different.

  5. PC May 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm · Reply

    Ok so what I find really interesting yet irritating in this article is that whoever wrote the article made a point to make sure that we knew that the man was intimidating an “interracial family.” I am not hating at all right now, but why can’t the author just say family. I mean it is the same thing. That family is a family, why does he have to specifically say interracial? Like I said I am not hating, I just don’t understand why it is so important to say that they are an interracial family not just a family.

  6. Dan Lester May 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm · Reply

    From what the accused said, it was important that it was an interracial family. That was the whole point, as I understand it.

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