A white man charged with setting fire to a 40-year-old black man in Murfreesboro, Tenn., appeared to admit to the killing in a letter which cited beliefs about the Bible being “for white people,” News Channel 5 reported.
The letter, which police intercepted from David Carothers’ outgoing mail, was addressed to an unnamed white supremacist group, according to the station.
“To my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ our savior and Lord, My name is John D. Carothers and I believe the Bible is about white people and for white people. I am in Rutherford County jail for burning a black man. I set him on fire with lighter fluid poured on his head,” the letter read in part, according to the Murfreesboro Post.
Carothers is accused of lighting Robert Miller on fire in a group home the two men were staying at in March, WSMV reported. When Miller died from the burns, Carothers was charged with first-degree murder, the Daily News Journal reported.
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Rescue officials questioned the other residents after the fire and began searching for Carothers, according to the Murfreesboro Post. When they found him walking near a convenience store, they said he told them ‘I live in a place I burned’ and had a backpack full of clothes and an empty bottle of lighter fluid, according to the paper.
His motive remained unknown until the discovery of the letter.
“It saddens me that someone may be thinking that way. It makes me realize that I have a responsibility to pursue this with great vigor and to make sure this is punished and that this type of act is discouraged,” Assistant DA J. Paul Newman said, according to WKRN.
If convicted, John Carothers could face harsher punishment at sentencing, based on the alleged hate crime, District Attorney Jennings Jones said, according to News Channel 5.
In April, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a report showing a rise in hate crimes throughout the state, many of them based on racial bias, The Tennessean reported.
Carothers was convicted of 2nd-degree murder in 1999 and was charged with 2nd degree murder again in 2011 before pleading guilty to a lower charge, the Daily News Journal reported.
The case will now move before a grand jury, News Channel 5 reported.