National Guardsman Arrested in Elaborate Plot to Avenge Mother’s Death by Hiring a Hitman and Purchasing Guns

WAKE FOREST, N.C. – A National Guardsman in North Carolina was arrested for allegedly attempting to hire a hitman and buying guns in a plot to avenge his mother’s death in a car crash nearly eight years ago.

Rhett Michael Barlow, 22, was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder, following an investigation by the Wake Forest Police Department. Barlow allegedly tried to hire a hitman and purchased two guns to carry out the murder of Donald Caulder, Jr., according to a statement from the police.

Caulder was involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash in 2016 that claimed the life of Barlow’s mother, Michelle. The crash occurred when Caulder, driving a dump truck, failed to slow down and collided into the back of Michelle Barlow’s minivan, killing her.

After his involvement in the crash, Caulder was arrested and charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. He later pleaded guilty and was handed a suspended sentence with 12 months probation. Authorities believe driver fatigue or distraction caused the fatal crash.

Following the tragic incident, Barlow, a member of the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, requested a transfer within the Army to a post closer to Caulder. He was taken into custody by the US Army Criminal Investigation Division and subsequently handed over to the Wake Forest police.

In court, Barlow was ordered to remain in jail on a $1 million bond and undergo a mental health assessment. He is currently in custody at the Wake County Detention Center awaiting a disposition hearing scheduled for January 29.

Barlow’s case echoes a similar incident in Tennessee, where a Guardsman was arrested for attempting to hire a hitman via a fake website. Josiah Ernesto Garcia, 21, was charged with the use of interstate facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.

The National Guard has yet to comment on Barlow’s case, but his arrest raises questions about the mental health and well-being of individuals in the armed forces. The tragic consequences of his actions serve as a reminder of the importance of seeking help and support during times of distress.