NBC10 - Doug Shimell
The State of New Jersey took away Heath Campbell's three kids after he named them after some of Nazi Germany's leaders. Campbell hopes to get custody of his youngest son, Heinrich Hons. NBC10's Doug Shimell reports.
Dressed in a Nazi uniform, Heath Campbell marched into a New Jersey courthouse to petition a family court judge to allow him to see his youngest son.
"I'm going to tell the judge, I love my children. I wanna be a father, let me be it," Campbell told NBC10 Monday before court proceedings. "Let me prove to the world that I am a good father."
The closed-door hearing at Hunterdon County Family Court in Flemington, N.J., was being held to determine whether the 40-year-old father of four, who gave his children Nazi-inspired names, could visit with his 2-year-old son Heinrich Hons Campbell.
The boy was 16 hours old in November 2011 when he was taken from Heath Campbell and his now estranged wife Deborah Campbell at the Hunterdon Medical Center, according to the father.
The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (NJ DYFS) said they took the boy because of previous violence in the home. An anonymous abuse claim was also made to local police.
The couple said they never abused their children and argued they were being targeted for the names they chose for their kids. Officials have denied that to be the case.
NJ DYFS officials had already placed Heinrich Hons Campbell's older siblings – Adolf Hitler Campbell, 7, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, 6, and 5-year-old Honzlynn Jeannie Campbell – in foster care because of the alleged violence in the family's Holland Township, N.J. home.
The Campbells gained national attention in December 2008 after a Greenwich Township, N.J. ShopRite supermarket refused to write Adolf Hitler Campbell’s name on a cake for his third birthday. The couple complained the refusal constituted discrimination.
A second store eventually honored their request, but the flap led NJ DYFS to start an investigation into the family.
The agency's investigation prompted a judge to remove the kids from the couple’s care.
"I've never abused my children, I only name my children and I don't think it's right anymore," Heath Campbell said. He said he hasn't seen any of his children in two years and that the three oldest children have been adopted by another family.
"Basically, what they're saying is because of my beliefs and I'm a Nazi, that us people don't have any constitutional rights to fight for our children," he said.
Asked whether he felt wearing the Nazi uniform, complete with a swastika patch on the arm and leather boots, into court would help or hurt his case, the father said it depended on the judge.
"If they're good judges and they're good people, they'll look within, not what's on the outside," he said.
Heath Campbell started wearing the uniform in June 2012 after forming "Hitler's Order,” a pro-Nazi organization. He was accompanied to the hearing by a member of that organization, Bethanie White.
White also wore Third Reich garb -- with swastika patches -- to the proceedings.
The father, who has Nazi symbols tattooed on his arm and neck and had Nazi memorabilia in his home, had previously said he was not a fan of Hitler's atrocities.
Heath Campbell says he and his wife have separated and that she has given up her rights to the children.
In June 2012, a New Jersey Superior Court denied the couple’s appeal to return the children home.
As is policy with family court proceedings in New Jersey, NBC10 was not allowed into the courtroom. The case court record is also sealed and a court official said any rulings in the hearing would never be released to the public.
Representatives from both the court and NJ DYFS also offered no comment on the case.
Heath Campbell says he plans to be back in court later in June for another hearing regarding Heinrich Hons Campbell's guardianship.
"I'm gonna keep fightin'," he said. "I don't care if it kills me. I love 'em."