National Guardsman arrested in alleged murder-for-hire plot

by Tommy Grant

A North Carolina National Guardsman has been accused of seeking to arrange a murder-for-hire plot against a man involved in a fatal vehicle wreck that claimed the life of the soldier’s mother nearly eight years ago, authorities said.

Army Sgt. Rhett Michael Barlow, 22, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was arrested January 6 for allegedly attempting to solicit the murder of Donald Caulder Jr., who officials said was involved in the March 2016 crash that took the life of Barlow’s mother, Michelle.

Barlow made his first court appearance Monday and faces one count of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, according to court records. He is being held under a $1 million secured bond and is next scheduled to appear in court on January 29.

The soldier was arrested by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, where he was training over the weekend. Barlow was then transferred to the custody of the Wake Forest Police Department, Bill Crabtree, a spokesperson for the North Carolina town of Wake Forest, told Military Times via email.

Court records show Barlow allegedly sought to get an individual named Benjamin Miceli to commit the crime, though Miceli notified the police of the alleged plans, Crabtree said, adding that Miceli does not face any charges.

The soldier is assigned to the North Carolina Guard’s 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and has been a member of the Guard since 2019, a spokesperson for the North Carolina National Guard told Military Times via email. They added that the force “will continue to monitor this situation and work with local authorities during the investigative process.”

Prosecutors said Barlow sought to transfer within the North Carolina National Guard to get closer to Caulder and noted that he purchased an AR-15 rifle as well as at least one other firearm, according to Stars & Stripes.

Barlow’s mother Michelle, an English teacher, died in 2016 during a vehicle collision involving Caulder, according to The News & Observer.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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