Authorities in Mississippi suspect Vincent McGee, a 23-year-old neighbor of Richard Barrett, killed the white supremacist who had hired him to do yard work
Authorities discovered the body of Barrett, 67,when firefighters responded to smoke from a blaze at his home, Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington said.
The suspect is Vincent McGee, who lived three houses away from Barrett and had been hired by him to do yardwork, Pennington said. McGee was placed on probation in February after serving less than three years of a six-year sentence for grand larceny and assault on a police officer, Pennington said.
Pennington said Barrett last was seen when he went to McGee's home Wednesday evening to pay him. Barrett was stabbed, beaten and set on fire, Pennington said, but an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Barrett operated the Nationalist Movement, an organization critical of racial integration and affirmative action and supportive of symbols such as the Confederate flag.
He gained national attention in the mid-1960s, appearing on numerous television and radio programs and campaigning across the country against communism and civil rights laws. He was on the 1968 presidential campaign staff of Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
He was considered more of a publicity hound than a leader among white supremacists, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project, which monitors hate groups as part of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
"Richard Barrett was a guy who carried out a series of publicity stunts, and really was never a movement builder in any way," Potok said. "He would sweep into town, make a nasty speech, get some of the nastier skinheads to shout, 'Sieg Heil,' then go home."