Daniel Shersty

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Airman 1st Class Daniel Shersty (8 August 1977 – 4 July 1998) was a United States Air Force serviceman who was murdered along with his friend Lin Newborn for involvement in the anti-racist skinhead movement.

Early life[edit]

Shersty was born in Florida and lived there for most of his life. His parents had separated by the time he was three years old and Daniel moved to Connecticut for a brief period with his father, Walter and his stepmother, Sharon Arndt before returning to Florida. Shersty was a shy but well-liked member of his school communities and took part in activities such as school plays and the marching band.[1] His IQ was tested in his Junior year of high school and while his score was in the top two percent for his age, his family's financial situation meant that Shersty was unable to pay for college.[2] As a result, he decided to join the Air Force to allow him to fund his future studies.

Move to Las Vegas[edit]

Shersty moved to Las Vegas to take up his post at Nellis Air Force Base.[3] It was here that Shersty befriended Lin Newborn, a prominent Las Vegas anti-racist activist, and became deeply involved in the area’s vibrant anti-racist skinhead scene. “He didn't hang out on base a lot--he hung out on the scene in Vegas a lot," according to friends, "He made friends in the local punk, skateboard, and snowboard community. Many of these people were also part of a group known as the Las Vegas Unity Skins.

The murders[edit]

Shersty and Newborn were shot to death in a remote desert location outside of Las Vegas, at Powerline Road and Centennial Parkway. They had been lured under pretense of a party and dates by the murderer John Butler's fiancée, Melissa Hack, and another unidentified woman on the night of July 3, 1998.[4] The women met Lin Newborn while having a piercing at Tribal Body Piercing, where Newborn worked and where Shersty had been visiting him. After the men accepted the invitation, the women mentioned that the route to the party was difficult and suggested they meet near an exit of US Highway 95 so the two men could follow them. The ambush came after midnight; Nazis said on their websites that it was right for a race traitor to die on Independence Day.[5] From the footprints, police believe Lin was grabbed first. Dan threw himself forward to protect his friend. He died as the killers dragged Lin away.[6]

On the morning of July 4, a group of people on recreational ATV rides through the desert spotted a body.[7] Police responded to a call about bodies that had been spotted in the desert, and found Shersty’s remains. He had been badly beaten but the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the side and face. On July 6, 1998, police found Newborn's body about 150 yards from where Shersty had been found. He had been shot repeatedly.[8] Ten days after his body was discovered police recovered a .32 caliber handgun from murder suspect John “Polar Bear” Butler that was determined to be the one used to kill Shersty, but the gun was not tied to Newborn’s murder.[9] While several suspects, including Butler's fiancée Melissa Hack and her brother Ross, were pursued by police and prosecutors, only Butler has ever been convicted of Shersty and Newborn’s murders.[10]

Aftermath[edit]

Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Dan's post, broke with military protocol by inviting Shersty's civilian friends to its memorial service. At a candlelight vigil near the base chapel, airmen read the company roll call.[11]

John "Polar Bear" Butler (then 26), a known neo-Nazi, was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. He was allegedly the leader of a group called the Independent Nazi Skins. After appealing, Butler's death sentence was vacated and he was given four life terms without parole by a jury. The Nevada Supreme Court rejected the appeal of John “Polar Bear” Butler in February 2010.[12] He is registered with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's gang unit as a white supremacist. He is currently housed at High Desert State Prison in Nevada.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Edwards, Linda. 'Death in the Desert',[1] Orlando Weekly, June 17, 1999. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  2. ^ Edwards, Linda. 'Death in the Desert',[2] Orlando Weekly, June 17, 1999. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Edwards, Linda. 'Death in the Desert',[3] Orlando Weekly, June 17, 1999. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  4. ^ Gaynor, Shawn. 'Nazi skinhead leader convicted in activists’ murders' [4] , Ashville Global Report, January 4–10, 2001. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  5. ^ Edwards, Linda. 'Death in the Desert',[5] Orlando Weekly, June 17, 1999. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  6. ^ Edwards, Linda. 'Death in the Desert',[6] Orlando Weekly, June 17, 1999. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  7. ^ ‘Butler v. State, 120 Nev. Adv. Op. 93, 102 P.3d 71’,[7], Nevada Law Journal December 2004. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  8. ^ Franklin, Jonathan. 'Nevada man is gripped with sorrow as skinheads celebrate son's slaying' [8], Boston Globe, July 5, 1999. Accessed 1 July 2010.
  9. ^ ‘Butler v. State, 120 Nev. Adv. Op. 93, 102 P.3d 71’,[9], ‘’Nevada Law Journal’’ December 2004. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  10. ^ Gaynor, Shawn. ‘Butler sentenced to death for activists’ murders’ [10] , Ashville Global Report, January 18–24, 2001. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  11. ^ Edwards, Linda. 'Death in the Desert',[11] Orlando Weekly, June 17, 1999. Accessed July 1, 2010.
  12. ^ Ryan, Cy. 'Court upholds convictions of two killers' [12], Las Vegas Sun. February 27, 2010. Accessed 1 July 2010