Local News

Search Unearths New Evidence in Murder Case

Posted January 23, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— When police decided to spring a surprise search on a soldier suspected in connection with a double murder, they found some surprises themselves. Police now have in their possession an affidavit filled with words and symbols of hatred that they say led up to two racially charged killings.

They say they wanted to take photographs of Malcolm Wright's tattoos, in particular, a spider tattoo on his arm. In some circles, such a tattoo indicates the bearer has committed murder. Wright is one of three former Fort Bragg soldiers facing charges in connection with the deaths of Jackie Burden and Michael James who were gunned down on a Fayetteville Street.

In order to obtain the search warrant, investigators had to document the case they had built so far. That affidavit details what allegedly happened before the shootings of Burden and James and sheds more light on Wright and his suspected involvement.

Much of the search warrant affidavit describes a police interview with Randy Meadows, who says he was the driver the night of the crime. As part of a plea bargain, Meadows has agreed to testify against James Burmeister and Wright. Burmeister's trial is now in the jury selection phase. Wright's trial is planned for March, 1997 in another county.

The affidavit describes what police say are the events leading up the the killings.

"Burmeister put the gun in his belt and said 'Maybe I'll earn my spider web tonight'," the document states.

Later, according to the affidavit, whenever the three men saw a black person, Burmeister would point his finger as if he were shooting a gun and say "Die N-----".

Investigators say Burmeister and Wright got out of the car when they saw two African-Americans walking. According to the warrant, Meadows said Wright told him if he and Burmeister failed to return within 15 minutes Meadows should leave because the other men would be running from someone.

Meadows says he heard shots moments later.

The papers also describe what investigators found in Wright's barracks room at Fort Bragg. The contents included so-called skinhead apparel, including black boots with white laces, two Nazi flags and 16 compact discs with titles like "Brutal Attack" , "Blood, Fire, Death" and "Born to Hate".

There were also white supremacist materials including 19 copies of the "White Genocide Manifesto", a handbook titled "We Are the Klan, Bring Back the Dream", and the newspaperWhite Patriot.

The room also reportedly held Aryan Nation pamphlets and racial comic books about African-Americans.

Investigators also discovered a letter written by Wright in which he admitted he was a skinhead and said he joined the army to get the training.

An NAACP official says he finds all of this very disturbing.

After their arrests, Burmeister, Wright and Meadows were discharged from the 82nd Airborne Division. The division has also adopted several new policies against white supremacist activity and has sought out other skinheads.