Telling the story of a KKK murder plot and FBI investigation
The Associated Press reconstructed the story of a failed 2015 murder plot by a Florida branch of the Ku Klux Klan using one-and-a-half hours of recordings made by an undercover FBI informant, thousands of pages of public records, field reporting and interviews.
The FBI confidential informant infiltrated the Florida Traditionalist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 2015, and testified about the investigation during a criminal trial in 2017. The FBI tapes were entered as evidence in the trial, and became public record.
All quotes and sensory detail in the scenes of the klansmen plotting the slaying were taken from the video recordings, court transcripts or visits by an AP reporter and photographer to the sites where the action took place.
Details from the perspective of the inmate who was the target of the murder plot, Warren Williams, came from public records, interviews with his mother and their attorney and visits to his hometown of Palatka. Williams declined multiple interview requests, but gave his consent for his mother and attorney to provide his side of the story.
Details of the prison guards’ employment history came from Florida Department of Corrections records, which were obtained via a public records request. Reporters also visited the former homes of each klansman, including Exalted Cyclops Charles Newcomb, whose home was used for many of the meetings reflected in the story.