A cold light fell on his naked body. A dark blue sheet covered his face. A man with plastic gloves dragged his fingers along his fleshy white skin and a woman in a suit stood in the shadows covering her mouth with her hand.
He looked up at the woman, his fingers slowing near a swastika that was painted on the man’s chest, and cleared his throat.
“Are you OK?” the man asked.
The woman stepped into the white circle of light the surrounded the table and leaned in over the body.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Yes. I’ve just never been around this…”
“Is it the wounds?”
“No,” she said. “It’s all the hate, I guess. I mean, what he did… Who he was… It’s just difficult to see it so close.”
They looked down at the body that laid on the cold slab of steel in the center of the room. An elaborate mark ran down the right side of his chest and a swastika hung over his heart above the word “Hammerskin.”
“The body tells you everything you need to know,” the man said as he turned over the dead man’s wrist. “Of course, the tattoos make it a little easier.”
His joke bounced awkwardly off the walls of the morgue and the woman looked up with an uneasy smile.
“Hammerskin,” she said. “Was he a member?”
He rubbed the back of his wrist against his cheek and looked down at the words that were etched into the man’s skin.
“Yes, yes, I believe so,” the man said. “But not because of that, really. That tattoo could mean that he was a fan of the idea, or maybe went to one of their parties. This, however, is something unique.”
He lifted the cold and heavy shoulder up off of the table and pointed at a small wheel that was etched on the man’s back around the numbers 838.
“You see that,” he said. “They don’t give that tattoo to just anyone.”
The blue cloth that covered the man’s face dropped to the ground and an accidentally moment of fear briefly shook the woman’s body.
His eyes were closed. His face was pale. There was a large black circle on his cheek and at the center was a hole the size of a small bullet.
“Sorry about that,” the man said, picking up the cloth. “I wasn’t thinking.”
The woman walked around the body examining the various tattoos that were embedded into his skin as the man talked quietly about their significance.
“The 838,” he said. “Represents ‘H’ and ‘C’ in the alphabet, which for him, stood for ‘Hail the Crossed Hammers.’ This skull, it’s known as a totenkopf. The ‘WP’ is obvious.”
He looked up at the woman who mouthed the words “white power” as she dragged her fingers over the letters on his shoulder.
“Yes,” the man said. “And the 14, there, underneath the Celtic Cross. It represents the groups 14 word rallying cry. ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’”
The man stared at the blue cloth that covered the face of Wade Michael Page as a cold shiver ran down his spine.
“Are you OK?” the woman asked.
He looked across the tattooed body at the woman standing in the pale white light of the morgue.
“You were right,” he said. “It’s too much hatred for one person.”
One of the few things that can tell his story are his tattoos, captured in photographs. Most of the colorful ink designs wrapped around his arms are steeped in racial symbolism, each able to tell us something about Mr. Page. WSJ