NEW ORLEANS, La. – It may be early next year before a grand jury hears the case against eight people accused in the death of an Oklahoma woman who authorities say was shot when she asked to leave a Ku Klux Klan initiation ritual.
Rick Wood of the St. Tammany Parish District Attorney's Office says it could take a few weeks for the sheriff's office to finish its investigation and paper work. The investigators' report may not be ready for the current grand jury, which holds its last meeting on Dec. 9.
In December, a January meeting date for a new grand jury is likely to be set, Wood said.
Raymond Foster, 44, has been booked with second-degree murder in the death of Cynthia Lynch, 43, of Tulsa, Okla. Seven others, including Foster's 20-year-old son, were booked with obstruction of justice. All are to be assigned public defenders.
The shooting is believed to have happened Nov. 9 at a remote campsite in St. Tammany Parish near the Washington Parish line, about 60 miles north of New Orleans. St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain said Lynch had been recruited over the Internet to join a Klan group identified as the Sons of Dixie or the Dixie Brotherhood, then head home to recruit new members. At some point, she asked to be taken from the initiation site, Strain said. That's when authorities say she was shot.
All the suspects are from Washington Parish, and the Sheriff's Office there is working with St. Tammany authorities and the FBI. A raid on Raymond Foster's residence in the Washington Parish city of Bogalusa turned up numerous records that included the names of other possible Klan members, said Washington Parish Deputy Chief Shannon Lyons. The FBI, he said, is looking into those names.
"They're going to investigate the people on the list to see if there's anything that we would need to know about or they would be concerned with, with any possible violations of federal law" Lyons said Monday. The names have not been released.
The FBI acknowledged last week that it was looking into the case but would not comment further.
The Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which investigates activity by the Klan and other hate groups, said Raymond Foster was the founding imperial wizard, or national leader, of the Southern White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a faction formed in 2001 in the Livingston Parish town of Watson. That group disbanded in 2005.