Local News

Suspects Arrested In 2001 Slaying Connected To KKK

Posted January 27, 2003 11:36 a.m. EST

— The grand dragon of a Ku Klux Klan group in Robeson County and the wife of a Klan leader already in federal custody are among four people charged with murder in a 2001 shooting death, authorities said.

Sampson County Sheriff Jim Thornton said the death of a man yet to be identified by authorities is tied to a plot to bomb county offices in Johnson County last year. 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 Saturday.

Marvin Glen Gautier, 50, of Benson, and Michael Anthony Brewer, 30, of Lumberton were charged Wednesday in the shooting death of the man, who also may have been involved with the Klan, according to investigators.

The other two murder suspects, Sharon Renee Barefoot, 37, of Benson, and Mark Anthony Denning, 24, of Newport, were arrested Friday, sheriff's Chief Deputy John Conerly said.

All four suspects were in the Sampson County jail Saturday without bond. The investigation is continuing, Thornton said.

Sharon Barefoot and Denning will make their first court appearance on Monday.

A witness to the shooting contacted the State Bureau of Investigation and the Sampson County Sheriff's Office and told them about the alleged slaying, according to a SBI search warrant.

Investigators went to a field and located the body Jan. 2.

An autopsy report released Saturday listed the cause of death as two gunshots to the head, Conerly said. He said the report indicated that the middle-aged man had been killed at least a year ago.

The SBI search warrant said members of at least two Ku Klux Klan organizations based in Benson and Robeson County allegedly were involved in the shooting.

The witness told investigators that he had been involved with a KKK group in Benson called National Knights of the KKK since early 1999.

The grand dragon of the Benson group was Charles Barefoot, Jr., who has not been charged in the death but was questioned by investigators. He is the husband of Sharon Barefoot.

Charles Barefoot was charged in July with a federal weapons,violation after authorities say he allegedly threatened to blow up Johnston County offices. He pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal,court to one weapons count, according to Thornton and court records. Sentencing is set for April 21, records show.

Agents who raided Charles Barefoot's home last year found a,cache of more than two dozen weapons, including an Uzi and an AK-47, two homemade bombs, bomb-making equipment and a purple robe,that agents identified as a Klan robe. Sheriff's deputies also found a cross that appeared to be burned.

The witness in the search warrant told investigators that members of the Benson KKK often met with a KKK group in Robeson County, where Brewer was grand dragon.

Conerly said weapons and Klan paraphernalia, including white and purple robes, were recovered from Brewer's home.

The witness said several KKK members met in September 2001, and he was told he was to help take care of some business, according to the warrant. Charles Barefoot was at the meeting, the witness told investigators.

KKK members drove to Jacksonville in a van to pick up the victim. Brewer said the man, who was believed to be associated with the KKK, needed to die because he knew about Brewer's threats to the Robeson County Sheriff and a police officer in Cumberland County, the warrant said.

The victim was shot several times in Sampson County and buried in a field, the search warrant said.

A second witness interviewed by the SBI on Jan. 6 told investigators that he had been a member of the Benson KKK and had attended a meeting where those who were present voted to kill a man.

Investigators seized the van Jan. 10 at Barefoot's home in Benson, according to the warrant. The SBI laboratory found blood stains in the van connected to the slaying, Thornton said.

SBI agent Jay Tilley said Gautier is believed to be one of the primary participants in the slaying. His connections, if any, to the KKK were unclear.