CLINTON, N.C., Jan. 25 — The grand dragon of a Ku Klux Klan group and the wife of a Klan leader in federal custody are among four people charged with murder in the killing of an unidentified man two years ago, the authorities said today.

The man’s body was uncovered in a field earlier this month after a tip from a witness. He had been shot.

The Sampson County sheriff, Jim Thornton, said the killing appeared to be tied to a plot to bomb government offices in Johnson 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,” Sheriff Thornton said.

Sharon Barefoot of Benson was arrested on Friday. Marvin Glen Gautier, 50, of Benson, and Michael Anthony Brewer, 30, of Lumberton — described as the grand dragon of a group based in Robeson County — were charged on Wednesday, officials said. A fourth person who has not been identified was also arrested on Friday, they said.

All were being held without bond in the Sampson County jail today. It was not immediately clear if they had lawyers who could comment.

Ms. 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 on Wednesday to weapons charges filed 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 the 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 K.K.K. members met in September 2001 and then drove to Jacksonville to pick up the victim, according to the warrant, obtained by a newspaper, The Sampson Independent.

On Jan. 10, eight days after the body was uncovered, investigators seized a van at the Barefoot home, according to the warrant. Investigators found blood stains in the van that have been connected to the killing, Sheriff Thornton said.

According to the warrant, Mr. Brewer said the victim had to die because he knew about his threats to local law enforcement officers.

Jay Tilley, a State Bureau of Investigation agent, said that Mr. Gautier was believed to be one of the main participants in the slaying.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday January 26, 2003.
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