Nazi memorabilia found in home of suspected arsonist
A large knife emblazoned with a Nazi emblem. A giant flag with the logo of the dreaded SS stormtroopers. A mug featuring Hitler wearing a Santa Christmas cap.
Those were among the items of disturbing Nazi memorabilia found inside the home of Walter Stolper, the elderly man who prosecutors say tried to burn down a Miami Beach condo in July 2018 in an effort to kill Jews.
The police photos of the items in Stolper’s home, as well as surveillance video of him wheeling gas in a shopping cart, will be key evidence against the defendant during a hearing next month. At a bond hearing on Feb. 7, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office will ask a judge to keep Stolper behind bars before his trial on charges of attempted murder, arson and possession of a destructive device.
Because they believe he was acting with prejudice toward Jewish people, prosecutors added the “hate-crime” enhancement, which means he faces stiffer penalties if convicted.
Stolper faces life in prison if he is found guilty. The State Attorney’s Office released the photos to the Miami Herald on Wednesday.
The 73-year-old, whose lawyer says he has been diagnosed with early onset of dementia, has so far been found competent to proceed to trial. He remains jailed.
Miami Beach police say they thwarted Stolper, who was being evicted from his unit, after he doused the condo with gasoline and was preparing to torch the building at 5601 Collins Ave.
A witness told police Stolper said that he had bought plastic containers with gas and that he was “going to burn down the building with all the f------ Jews,” according to his arrest report.
Miami Beach police saw Stolper in the parking garage moving two plastic containers using a shopping cart, and smelled gas coming from the items, police said. Gasoline had already been poured down from the 15th floor, authorities said.
After his arrest, Miami Beach detectives found the trove of Nazi items displayed prominently in his waterfront condo.
Among them: a copy of “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler’s notorious autobiography that spread his anti-Semitic views; a framed Nazi eagle logo; what appeared to be a Nazi calendar; and a stylized print of an SS propaganda poster. Besides the Hitler Christmas mug, another one featured a smiling Nazi holding a young girl and a printed oath to the Nazi leader.
His defense attorney declined to comment on Wednesday.