NOME, N.D.-A recent deed to an old church in this tiny Barnes County town lists known white supremacist Craig Cobb as an owner of the property.

However, people in Nome are still waiting to learn whether he'll become the full and rightful owner of the building there, in order for him to move to the town of about 60 people 70 miles southwest of Fargo.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Cobb, also known as Paul Cobb, has already tried unsuccessfully to turn the North Dakota towns of Leith and Antler into enclaves for white supremacists.

Early last month, a sheriff's deputy saw Cobb moving belongings from the trunk of a vehicle into the dilapidated building, once home to Zion Lutheran Church.

On Tuesday, March 21, there was one sign of possible human habitation at the former church: a satellite dish perched outside a garage door on the building at 295 3rd Ave. However, there were no vehicles outside, and no one answered knocks on the door.

Barnes County Sheriff Randy McClaflin said as far as he knows, Cobb hasn't moved in.

"I'm not going to say much about him because that's what he wants, that's what he lives for," McClaflin said.

Jerome Jankowski lives directly south of the church in a home that was once the parsonage.

He said he hasn't seen Cobb, but that recently there's been an increase in traffic through town and near the church. He said several pickup trucks with three or four men inside have stopped, looking for and asking to talk with Cobb.

He's concerned about having Cobb, and any others who may join his white supremacy movement, as neighbors.

"I can get along with just about anybody... but this guy, he fell off the edge," Jankowski said.

The question about ownership of the building relates to the deed on file in the Barnes County Recorder's office.

According to Recorder Jody Pfaff, the deed dated Feb. 21 that transfers ownership to Paul Cobb also lists Alexis Wolf as an owner.

Jankowski said Wolf and then-boyfriend Kevin Richman bought the church in 2013, intending to remodel it into a home. He got to know the young couple as they started the remodeling work. When the two broke up, Richman made a move to sell the property, but had no takers for more than two years.

Richman, of rural Tower City, put an ad on Craigslist, and Cobb gave him a call. Richman said he showed the property to Cobb, but didn't know who he was until after the sale was in process.

"It was out of my hands. There was nothing I could do about it," Richman said in an interview Tuesday.

With Wolf's name still on the deed, Jankowski said he's heard the ownership matter is in the hands of lawyers.

Calls to Cobb and Wolf Tuesday were not returned.

At a meeting of the Nome City Council on Feb. 5, several townspeople expressed concerns about Cobb moving in. At the time, McClaflin consulted with the local state's attorney who said it wasn't a matter law enforcement could get involved in.

Cobb's current address is listed as 208 E. 3rd St. No. 11 in Sherwood, N.D., about 50 miles northwest of Minot.

He's involved in the Creativity Movement, a nontheistic religion that believes in the superiority of white people. In 2011, he began buying property in Leith, southwest of Bismarck, intending to turn the town into a white supremacist enclave.

In 2013, Leith officials began discussing new building ordinances to keep Cobb from settling in. Later that year, Cobb was jailed on suspicion of terrorizing after conducting an armed patrol of his property in Leith.

Cobb pleaded guilty in 2014 to felony terrorizing and five misdemeanor menacing charges. A judge gave him credit for time served and put him on supervised probation until 2018.

In 2015, he tried to buy land in Antler, north of Minot.

Jankowski said if people in Nome need to come together to keep Cobb out, he'll be first in line to help. But he doesn't think that will be necessary.

"It's a real nice small town," Jankowski said. "In my heart, I don't think the man is going to move here."