JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A White supremacist accused of fatally shooting a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum spent most of 2005 in Jefferson City, where he tried unsuccessfully to sell his oil paintings and ranted about his hatred of Jews and Blacks.
James von Brunn, 88, faces a first-degree murder charge in the June death of museum guard Stephen T. Johns. Von Brunn was shot in the face by other guards at the Washington museum and remains hospitalized.
Dunklin Street Gallery owner Dotty Ewers said von Brunn visited her shop regularly. On Jan. 15, 2005, she entered into a contract with von Brunn to sell 10 oil paintings, many of them showing scenes from the Old West.
Von Brunn's contract with Ewers showed he was living in a one-bedroom, government-subsidized apartment in the Robert L. Hyder Apartments, a senior citizens housing complex.
Their conversations initially revolved around art but later took on a darker tone. Ewers said she would cut von Brunn off when he began talking about minorities and sharing his disbelief about the number of people killed in the Holocaust.
"I would tell him when he started on these tirades about the Jewish people that you know we are not having this conversation. I don't like this sort of talk,'' Ewers said. "If we will talk about art, that's one thing, but other than that, we are not going to go into this other kind of talk.''
Initially, von Brunn insisted that Ewers price his work. But when he discovered she was asking $100 each for the paintings, he said they were worth more.
Von Brunn then increased the price of the paintings to between $450 and $1,550. But none sold, and a signed receipt attached to von Brunn's contract show he collected all of his oil paintings on Nov. 17, 2005.
Ewers said von Brunn told her he was moving to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. At the time of the shooting, Von Brunn was living with a son and his fiancee in Annapolis, Md.
William Woods art professor Terry Martin recalled meeting von Brunn at the gallery. When von Brunn asked Martin what he thought of his work, Martin complimented him.
"Technically, he was very proficient,'' Martin recalled, but added that von Brunn painted a romantic vision of the West. "He didn't seem to be a person who saw things the way they were. In retrospect, he painted an idealized West. He wanted things to be different than the way they are.''
Von Brunn, who was born in St. Louis and attended Washington University, served in the Navy during World War II and later worked in advertising as a commercial artist.
During their conversation, von Brunn mentioned his military record and Martin thanked him for his service.
"He said he fought for the wrong side,'' Martin said. "He said everything in this country wasn't what he fought for; everything was upside-down. He didn't like minorities.''
Afterward, Martin began avoiding von Brunn when he visited the gallery.
"I didn't like the hate talk,'' Martin said. "He was very bitter.''