Clinton, N.C. — The grand dragon of a Ku Klux Klan group and the wife of a Klan leader in federal custody were among four people charged with murder in the killing of an unidentified man two years ago, authorities said Saturday.
The decomposed body was uncovered in a field earlier this month after a witness called authorities.
Sampson County Sheriff Jim Thornton said Saturday the fatal shooting appeared to be tied to a plot to bomb government offices in Johnston County in July, but he declined to elaborate.
"We've got some witnesses and children and all and would really prefer not to get too deep in it," Thornton said.
Sharon Barefoot, 37, of Benson, and Mark Anthony Denning, 24, of Newport, were arrested Friday, sheriff's Chief Deputy John Conerly said. Marvin Glen Gautier, 50, of Benson, and Michael Anthony Brewer, 30, the grand dragon of a group based in Robeson County, were charged Wednesday, Thornton said.
All were being held without bond in the Sampson County jail Saturday. It wasn't immediately clear if they had attorneys who could comment.
Barefoot's husband, Charles, the grand dragon of a group based in Benson, is in federal custody awaiting sentencing and has not been charged in the attack. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to weapons charges after agents raided his home and found guns, homemade bombs and bomb-making equipment.
According to a search warrant from the State Bureau of Investigation, a witness who had been involved with the groups led authorities to the body and told them members of at least two Ku Klux Klan organizations were involved in the shooting.
The witness said several KKK members met in September 2001 and then drove to Jacksonville to pick up the victim, according to the warrant, obtained by The Sampson Independent.
On Jan. 10, eight days after the body was uncovered, investigators seized a van at Barefoot's home in Benson, according to the warrant. Investigators found blood stains in the van connected to the slaying, Thornton said.
Conerly said weapons and Klan paraphernalia, including white and purple robes, were recovered from Brewer's home.
According to the warrant, Brewer had said the victim needed to die because he knew about Brewer's threats to local law enforcement officers.
State Bureau of Investigations agent Jay Tilley said Gautier was believed to be one of the primary participants in the slaying.
An autopsy report released Saturday listed the cause of death as two gunshots to the head, Conerly said.