The young man I had listed in my book of contacts as "Hardy the Autistic Neo-Nazi" was so beyond the reach of reason that I simply took to deleting his e-mails unanswered.
He had started a new church. Delete. His race was his religion. Delete. When was I going to interview him about the presidential election? Delete.
His parents had long ago run out of ideas about what to do with him. I had run out of patience and, to be honest, any interest in his ideas once I realized they stemmed more from a mental condition than from intellectual short-circuit. Hardy became a man who was eminently deletable.
When police arrested him Friday morning, for the murder last Tuesday night of a 41-year-old Forest Hills woman, Lori Hann, I wondered what more I might have written or said or done. But these were questions Jon Lloyd had asked himself endlessly when it came to his son.
Hardy Lloyd, 26, the self-professed neo-Nazi, a loud and attention-seeking racist, the Pittsburgh organizer for the anti-Semitic and latently violent World Church of the Creator.
He was also a young man with Asperger's Syndrome, a mental condition that approximates a mild autism. Ordinarily, this manifests itself by an inability to understand such things as social distance or a mild fixation on any of a number of things. One young boy who is very dear to me has this condition. He knows every Beatles song, every bit of trivia about the movie Titanic, and can recite Spider-man comics by heart.
Hardy Lloyd fixated on race.
"From the time he was small he perseverated on race. No matter what we tried, we couldn't get him to stop," Jon Lloyd told me several years ago. The Lloyds are neither racist nor extreme in any view. She cared for the children. He cared for patients. Jon Lloyd is a doctor who worked for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.
At one point, they had an African-American coach spend countless hours with their son in hopes he would lose this fixation.
But if prejudice is a weakness that preys on the flawed, the people who turned a buck out of it are happy to cash in even on the most pitiable creatures.
Matt Hale, the self-styled pontifex maximus, was thrilled when Hardy Lloyd turned up to work for his "church."
"He has been very active for us," Hale told me three years ago. "He has brought in some new members."
That's when I told Hale that the man calling himself The Rev. Hardy Lloyd, his church's new scholar, had a form of autism.
Nights when Hardy prowled Shadyside and Oakland pasting racist stickers on school windows and utility poles were followed by mornings when Jon Lloyd rose early and retraced his son's steps, tearing down stickers or pasting over them with messages calling for tolerance.
It became a strange sort of war founded in a father's conviction that his son could somehow be turned around and a cynical racist leader's determination to capitalize on a young man's infirmity. Hale simply chose to deny there was anything wrong with Hardy Lloyd. It spoke volumes with what was wrong with Matthew Hale.
It got to the point Hardy's parents arranged to have him committed to a mental health unit. He got out after promising to abandon his racist Web site and his pamphleteering.
At one point, I called Jon Lloyd to warn him that Matt Hale was planning to speak at a rally in York, Pa.
Hardy had gone online seeking a ride. Unwittingly, he connected with the leader of an anti-racist group prepared to pick him up and take him into what turned into a small riot between anti-racist groups and skinheads.
Jon Lloyd had a better idea. He scored some Penguins tickets and his son was distracted. Happily distracted.
"Oh, Klassen!" Hardy wrote, invoking the name of his church's founder when he explained he couldn't get off work the weekend of the rally.
Months later, Hardy was back online again being used by Hale. Jon Lloyd was out of ideas.
He told me about walking from the North Side to Downtown after a Steelers game. Hardy noticed a city cop rousting a homeless man who was begging in the streets.
According to Lloyd, his son pleaded the man's case and told his father there was just no reason to be unkind to a beggar.
"Somewhere inside there, I know that this is a good person," Lloyd said of his son.
That might well be so, but if Hardy Lloyd is indeed the young man who shot Lori Hann last week, there was also something dark, frustrated and twisted dwelling alongside a young neo-Nazi who couldn't even explain how he got that way.
Matt Hale is now in prison for conspiring to kill a federal judge. His protege now faces murder charges. Once again, the world is about to hit the delete key with Hardy Lloyd at the other end.
Dennis Roddy is a Post-Gazette columnist (email@example.com, 412-263-1965).