Raleigh man bought AR-15 same day he tried to hire hitman to avenge mother's death: Prosecutors

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Monday, January 8, 2024
Raleigh man arrested, accused of trying to hire hitman
Wake Forest police said the man wanted to pay someone to kill the man who killed his mother.

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Raleigh man in the U.S. National Guard tried to hire someone to murder the man who killed his mother, according to Wake Forest Police Department.

Rhett Michael Barlow is the son of Michelle Barlow. Michelle, who was an English teacher at Wake Forest High School, died in a car crash on March 22, 2016.

Rhett Michael Barlow

The crash happened on Capital Boulevard near Burlington Mills Road when a dump truck, driven by Donald Caulder Jr., failed to slow down and slammed into the back of Barlow's minivan. She died from her injuries.

Caulder was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. He pleaded guilty to the charge 10 months later and was given a suspended sentence and 12 months probation. Since then, Caulder had one misdemeanor probation violation in Johnston County but no other records of being arrested or otherwise in trouble with the law.

Six years after Caulder pleaded guilty in the case, US Army Criminal Investigation Division arrested Rhett Barlow at Fort Liberty. He was at Fort Liberty for training associated with him being in the National Guard.

Wake Forest Police Department said Barlow tried on Nov. 28, 2023 to hire a man to murder Caulder. The Army has since transferred Barlow to the custody of Wake Forest Police Department.

On Jan. 8, 2024, Barlow appeared in court. The judge determined he would remain held on a $1 million bond and undergo a mental health evaluation.

Prosecutors revealed Monday that Barlow had purchased an AR-15 the same day he tried to hire the hitman. He also reportedly requested an Army transfer to a post closer to Caulder.