It's not everyday a former police informant calls you wanting to tell her story. So, when she called a few weeks ago we were very interested.
"Linda," the name I gave her to help protect her identity, was an informant for local police, federal agents and prosecutors, and the Anti-Defamation League. She provided a copy of a St. Louis County Police intelligence report showing that she was an informant who wore a secret recording device at least twice in an effort to collect evidence against skinheads suspected of committing crimes.
Linda says she took thousands of photographs to help police identify members of white supremacist groups. Some of the photos show children bowling and posing with their parents who are white supremacists.
"Some of them are called legals, which means they don't ever break the law and can legally buy guns and ammunition and stockpile it," she told me. "I know one lady that's a nurse. I know another lady that's a paralegal."
Linda wanted to tell her story because she believes skinheads know she was an informant. She told me that she's a target, and has been attacked by aryan gang members since she cooperated with law enforcement. Police promised to protect her, she says, but Linda claims they have failed to do so. She hopes this story puts pressure on them to provide her with protection.
Although Acting U.S. Attorney Mike Reap (shown at left) refused to confirm or deny that Linda was an informant, he did tell me "that's her right to go public if she wants, but I don't think it's real smart of her."
Without revealing all of the challenges we faced handling this touchy story, it's safe to say that we seemed more concerned than Linda about the steps we should take to protect her identity. For example, Linda wanted us to use her real name, which makes no sense at all for someone who claims to be the target of a violent gang. In addition, based on her behavior with us, some sources question if she's the kind of person who would follow the rules of the witness protection program, which clearly needs her discretion and commitment to secrecy.
It's unclear what's next for Linda and the investigators who worked with her. However, it is clear that Linda was an informant, that she collected evidence against dangerous people, and that now she feels like she could become their next victim.
Even if she seems reckless to law enforcement, perhaps it's time to bring her in for a long talk, possibly an evaluation to see if she has a place in the witness protection program.