Robert Jay Mathews was a neo-Nazi activist born in Marfa, Texas, United States to Johny Mathews and Una Mathews. Johny is of Scottish descent.
Robert has two older brothers. From Texas, their family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, USA where he grew up.
In 1964, Robert joined the right-wing advocacy group John Birch Society, which supported paleoconservatism, anti-communism and limited government. Here are 13 more things about him:
- In 1969, he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After dropping out of high school in his senior year, he formed the Sons of Liberty, an anti-communist militia dominated by survivalists and fellow Mormons.
- In 1973, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents arrested him for submitting false information on his employer’s W-4 (tax withholding) Form, claiming 10 dependents. He was sentenced to six months probation.
- When his probation ended in July 1974, he moved to Metaline Falls, Washington, USA where he bought 60 acres of wooded property he named Mathews Acres.
- He worked as an electrician for the Bunker Hill Mine Company in Idaho, USA. When the mine closed in May 1977, he started working for the Portland Lehigh Cement Company in Portland, Oregon, USA.
- In 1980, he joined the National Alliance, a white-supremacist group founded by former Oregon State University physics professor William Luther Pierce.
- In February 1982, he started attending services at the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian inside the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho.
- In September 1983, he gave a short speech at a National Alliance convention in Arlington, Virginia, USA where he reported on his efforts to recruit farmers and ranchers into the white racialist movement. He renewed acquaintance with former Ku Klux Klansman Robert Allan Martinez at the convention. In the same month, he founded a white supremacist militant group called The Order in Metaline Falls. The first members were Kenneth Loft, Daniel R. Bauer, Denver Daw Parmenter II, Randolph George Duey, Bruce Carroll Pierce, Richard Harold Kemp, William Soderquist and his best friend David Eden Lane.
- On October 28, 1983, he, Pierce, Duey and Bauer pulled their first armed robbery at World Wide Video, an adult movie store in Spokane, Washington.
- In November 1983, he organized a trip to Seattle, Washington with the intention of robbing an armored car. On December 18, 1983, he robbed the Innis-Arden branch of Citybank, north of Seattle, and escaped with $25,952 but an exploding dye pack ruined a large portion of the loot.
- On April 23, 1984, he carried out another armored car robbery inside Northgate Mall in Seattle with Pierce, Parmenter, Duey, Kemp and two other The Order members Gary Yarborough and Andrew Virgil Barnhill. He heard that Aryan Nations member Walter Edward West, then 42, of Athol, Idaho had been getting drunk in bars around Hayden Lake and gossiping about The Order’s crimes so he ordered West killed. On May 27, 1984, Duey, Kemp, Aryan Nations recruit David Charles Tate and National Alliance recruit James Dye murdered West.
- On June 24, 1984, Lane delivered $30,000 in counterfeit money to Martinez in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA which Martinez had reluctantly agreed to pass for The Order. On June 28, 1984, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Martinez. On July 19, 1984, he, Parmenter, Soderquist, Duey, Pierce, Barnhill and The Order member Richard Scutari stopped the Brink’s armored truck on U.S. Highway 101 in California, USA, robbed the guards of over $3.6 million, escaped and drove to Reno, Nevada, USA. During the robbery, he lost a 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol registered to Barnhill. On October 1, 1984, Martinez gave the Federal Bureau of Investigation detailed information about The Order.
- On November 23, 1984, he and Yarborough picked up Martinez at the Portland International Airport in Portland and then drove to the Capri Motel in Portland where they had rented two rooms. On November 24, 1984, FBI agents surrounded the motel. Yarborough was captured while he escaped and hitched two rides to his hideout in the Mount Hood area in Oregon. He and The Order members went to Whidbey Island, Island County, Washington where they had three safe houses.
- On December 3, 1984, the FBI received an anonymous tip that he and other members of The Order were hiding on Whidbey Island. The FBI dispatched 150 agents to the island and by December 7, 1984, four members of the gang were arrested without incident while he refused to surrender. On December 8, 1984, the FBI agents fired three M-79 Starburst illumination flares into the house where he was hiding but he still did not surrender. On December 9, 1984, the agents found his charred remains inside the burned-out building. He died at the age of 31.