The angel came to Roy Den Hollander on a warm evening in Moscow in July 1999.
He was in a bar, according to his autobiography, and slightly drunk when she appeared like a vision: “There she stood – blond, a few inches taller than me, blue-gray eyes – stunningly beautiful and with an innocent, fresh smile beaming from her face that told me I was the only one.”
Angelina told him she was a model, a beauty queen from southern Russia and a former national high-jump champion. She was 23.
Den Hollander was 51, an American lawyer working for an intelligence company. Their rushed courtship led to marriage within months, followed almost as quickly by a rancorous divorce in New York City.
Though Den Hollander may have harbored misogyny his entire life, this was a crucible that launched him as a torchbearer for men’s rights and, in July, the suspect in a killing spree.
“Through my misery and grief,” he wrote, “rage finally smashed through my feelings of self-pity.”
A trail of death
On July 11, authorities said, Den Hollander, 72, arrived in California on a train from New York, dressed as a FedEx worker, and drove with a gun to the home of Marc Angelucci, another men’s rights attorney, in a mountain town outside Los Angeles.
Eight days after Angelucci was killed, according to investigators, Den Hollander showed up at the New Jersey home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, who had presided over one of his many lawsuits fighting what he perceived as feminist oppression.
Again dressed as a deliveryman, Den Hollander allegedly killed Salas’ 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, and wounded her husband, attorney Mark Anderl.
The following day, near the village of Rockland in upstate New York, a road worker found Den Hollander beside a rental car, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
A pistol lay on the ground. Inside the 2020 Toyota was an empty FedEx package addressed to Salas and a list of more than a dozen names, including several judges, whom law enforcement suspect were potential targets.
Magnetized by women, but he despised them
It is not difficult to discover Den Hollander’s mindset; it’s splattered over thousands of internet pages.
The top of his website contains the label “Anti-Feminist Lawyer.” From there, the narrative spirals down through fringes of sanity into darkness and does not bottom out with understanding.
In Den Hollander’s reality, contradictions abounded to the end.
He was magnetized by women, yet despised them. But only men were killed.
He entered adulthood as a drug-using liberal who decried capitalist exploitation. By old age, he had morphed into a conservative business lawyer who campaigned for Donald Trump.
Although his autobiography and legal briefs are filled with cogent, sequential arguments, they also contain twisted, nonsensical passages.
Despite a lifelong distrust of women, he believed a lithe Russian model was drawn to a middle-aged American lawyer by love rather than by greenbacks or a green card.
It may never be clear what caused Den Hollander’s devolution, or when it began.
No friends or defenders could be located for this story. His ex-wife declined interviews. Family members said they had been estranged for years and requested privacy. Leaders in the men’s advocacy movement distanced themselves from Den Hollander long ago and disavowed him after the slayings.
What remains are court records, news stories and a massive self-portrait he posted online. His two autobiographies comprise more than 1,700 pages as convoluted as a Russian novel, as self-indulgent as a Mickey Spillane detective saga.
As in any personal narrative, veracity is suspect. Though Den Hollander criticized himself often, he blamed most of his shortcomings on others – especially feminists who, he contended, control modern civilization.
His writings are clear and partially supported by hundreds of exhibits: legal documents, photographs, his wife’s diary, emails and news articles. Those records form the factual structure, Den Hollander’s perceptions the mottled windows.
From beginning to end, he portrayed himself as a macho renaissance man. And always a victim.
Court records make clear that, in addition to those who were shot, Den Hollander harassed, sued, threatened and abused countless others.
‘I wish … I never had you’
He was born in 1947 and raised in the New Jersey borough of Midland Park, spending summers in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York.
Contempt for women was rooted, he wrote, in one of his earliest memories. Around age 4, he asked his mother what she was making for dinner. “She spins around in a flash with that screwed-up face of unrepentant anger and yells, ‘Don’t bother me. I wish I had listened to your father and never had you.’ ”
That line, he claimed, was a refrain throughout his childhood.
His writings contain no mention of physical abuse, but there are red flags, including lurid comments about primary school teachers and little girls.
The account of his teen and young adult years seems drawn from the narcissistic style of journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who romanticized drug use and the 1960s hippie lifestyle. Den Hollander quit college several times, dodged the draft and became a member of the far-left Students for a Democratic Society.
He traveled to the United Kingdom to join Irish Republican Army protests against British rule, then returned to the States and worked on the presidential campaign of George McGovern.
There is little evidence of misogyny or sociopathy in his accounts of those escapades. Den Hollander maintained friendships and played rugby with a team that toured internationally. He worked on political campaigns, led a union strike, served as a legislative aide and became a muckraking journalist for New York television stations.
From Russia with love
After covering the presidential campaign of 1980, Den Hollander enrolled in law school at age 34.
He began his legal career investigating tax evaders for the IRS, then joined a prominent New York law firm before launching a private practice focused on Russian commerce.
In 1999, according to Den Hollander, he began working in Moscow for Kroll Associates, a U.S. security and intelligence firm. That’s how he met his future ex-wife, Angelina Shipilina.
Years later, he wrote that their physical intimacy was “a transcendental relationship with another part of the universe that erases aloneness.”
They married in March 2000 near the Black Sea and moved to New York City. He called her Angel.
Even before the wedding, Den Hollander suspected Shipilina had been dishonest with him. His fears grew after she started dancing at a strip club off Times Square.
According to Den Hollander’s court filings, the woman of his dreams turned out to be a prostitute with Russian mob ties. She hadn’t won a beauty pageant or track titles. She married him for a green card, he alleged, and pulled it off with lies, Russian black magic and drugs planted in his food.
Shipilina, who could not be reached for this story, declined comment when contacted by other media.
In his life story, Den Hollander referred to his wife as “Black Angel.” His writings include tangents on the power of women to deceive and the helplessness of men who in modern society cannot respond with violence.
They separated within months of getting married.
The word “acrimonious” may be overused with divorces, but not in this case.
Den Hollander hired investigators and translators, pilfered Shipilina’s diary, got tape-recordings of her phone calls and visited her hometown in Russia to dig into her background.
Shipilina filed a police report accusing him of assault and obtained a protective order.
Den Hollander posted flyers and videos online shaming and attacking her, sought criminal investigations by the FBI and tried to get her deported. He accused her of immigration fraud, perjury and tax evasion. Nothing stuck.
Using the Violence Against Women Act as cover, Den Hollander contended, Shipilina avoided deportation and secured permanent U.S. residency by swearing he had abused her.
If he had just decked her early in the relationship, Den Hollander wrote, things might have worked out: “Why do men have to relinquish the strengths that evolution gave them, while females ruthlessly use every weapon in their arsenal against them?”
In 2003, Den Hollander filed a 90-page civil complaint against Shipilina, the dance club where she worked, her divorce lawyers and even a New York police detective for alleged racketeering, drug trafficking, extortion and other felonies. It was thrown out.
Nicholas J. Mundy, one of Shipilina’s attorneys, told the New York Post that Den Hollander became “delusional and disturbed” during the conflict.
“He would threaten and say disparaging things about the judge in legal papers,” Mundy said, adding that he filed a complaint with the state bar association. “He was basically a deranged lunatic hiding in plain sight, cloaked by his suit, tie and law degree.”
‘This guy is dangerous’
Den Hollander’s manic hostility began to envelop others.
Around 2007, he filed noise-abatement lawsuits against residents in his New York City apartment building. Attorney Paul Steinberg, who represented a neighbor, said Den Hollander attacked him in a courthouse corridor after a hearing and the two grappled on the floor.
Steinberg informed court security that Den Hollander posed a threat, urging them to read his “fantasies of violence against women.”
“I told the officer point-blank, ‘This guy is dangerous,’ ” Steinberg recalled.
In 2008, Den Hollander unsuccessfully sued Steinberg, alleging he violated copyright law by submitting some of Den Hollander’s anti-woman essays in legal proceedings. A judge threw out the case, so Den Hollander sued him for ruling “in accordance with the ideology of the feminist establishment.”
Den Hollander sued the U.S. government that year, claiming the Violence Against Women Act unconstitutionally allows foreign females to make false claims of spousal abuse under a veil of secrecy, leaving men no way to defend themselves.
That action was dismissed, as were a bunch of other civil complaints:
•Den Hollander sued New York nightclubs for discrimination because they granted free admission to females on “Ladies’ Night” while requiring men to pay.
•He sued Columbia University for offering a women’s studies program that he claimed taught feminism as a religion.
•He filed an action against the City of New York Commission on Human Rights for, as he put it, discrimination against “Euro-Americans of Protestant ancestry (and) a divorced husband who has nothing good to say about his ex-wife.”
If Den Hollander learned anything during his journalism gig, it was how to get exposure. Unlike so-called incel trolls – involuntarily celibate men who demonize women on the internet – he was a buttoned-down professional with a buzz cut and a face for TV.
He made it onto shows with Phil Donahue and Dr. Phil and into newspapers from Uruguay to Korea to Australia. His website includes pages of outrageous one-liners prepared for media interviews.
In 2008 on Fox News, Den Hollander told host Neil Cavuto that women are a suspect class, quipping, “Every time they open their mouths, I begin to suspect something.”
Media appearances and pro bono lawsuits don’t pay the bills. In 2010, Den Hollander filed for bankruptcy, declaring virtually no assets. He listed Social Security as his only income. His credit card debt totaled more than $130,000.
Isolated and alienated, he turns to Trump
As Den Hollander’s rhetoric got more radical – condoning violence to overcome what he called “feminist totalitarianism” – media interest diminished.
In 2010, in an essay for the online journal “A Voice for Men,” he offered a veiled threat: “There is one remaining source of power in which men still have a near monopoly – firearms.”
During an online radio chat, Paul Elam, founder of the magazine, said that sentence exposed Den Hollander as unstable. He was banned from “A Voice for Men,” Elam said, and ostracized by the larger men’s movement.
David Futrelle, a journalist and blogger who monitors misogynist groups, said Den Hollander came to be treated as a buffoon by men’s rights proponents. “There was always a very dark side of him that was overlooked,” Futrelle said. “I don’t think he was crazy. He was a very angry and bitter man who felt he had nothing to lose.”
As publicity subsided, Den Hollander joined the 2016 Trump campaign, supporting a candidate who in his mind was the victim of false accusations by women.
According to his autobiography, Den Hollander called voters from Trump Tower, but his big contribution was another lawsuit — accusing 17 journalists with the nation’s top news outlets of racketeering by means of false reporting.
One example he submitted in court: After Trump asserted that President Barack Obama had “founded ISIS,” a newscaster said the allegation was false. In Den Hollander’s view, Trump spoke the truth because Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq, enabling the Islamic State to thrive.
A woman’s right to be drafted
Nearly all of Den Hollander’s cases failed, but one filed in 2015 gained traction. He represented women who contend the U.S. Selective Service System violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by not allowing them to sign up for military conscription. The case, which is ongoing, was assigned to Salas’ court.
Angelucci, another men’s rights attorney, brought a similar lawsuit against the Selective Service around the same time. His argued the government violates men’s rights because males are required to register, but females aren’t.
In March 2019, Salas gave Den Hollander a rare victory by allowing the complaint to go forward. That success, and his media spotlight, was eclipsed by Angelucci, who days earlier had won a final judgment that the Selective Service System is unconstitutional. That decision is on appeal.
Therein lies the purported motive for the homicides: jealousy directed at a rival lawyer and rage against a judge who did not decide a case quickly enough.
In online rants, Den Hollander denigrated Salas as a Latina elevated to federal court via affirmative action. He said he “wanted to ask the judge out, but thought she’d hold me in contempt.”
‘Darkness conquers the light’
In 2018, Den Hollander began struggling with insomnia and breathing difficulties. According to his autobiography, doctors misdiagnosed the malignant melanoma in his sinuses until it was too late.
Faced with terminal cancer, he elected to undergo treatment that would give him “time to wrap up my affairs.”
“Death’s hand is on my left shoulder,” he wrote. “The only problem with a life lived too long under Feminazi rule is that a man ends up with so many enemies he can’t even the score with all of them.”
He wrote of heading into the depths of hell. Yet he envisioned himself going in the opposite direction, joining virtuous heroes in a mythical paradise.
In the end, there was no valor or righteousness, just tragedy. A sick man killed innocents and turned the gun on himself.
Roy Den Hollander’s life ended with a bang, but he closed his written story with a whimper, describing himself as “one of the leftovers of humanity with nothing to look forward to and nothing of value to remember.”
“At the end of the day,” he concluded, “darkness conquers the light, but that’s no reason not to fight back as a Cheshire grin spreads across my face in anticipation.”
Contributing: Kevin McCoy, Chris Woodyard
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Roy Den Hollander: The bitter tale of misogynist lawyer turned killer