More charged in animal killing at Georgia white supremacist camp

Five more men have been charged in the killing of a farm animal during what police have said was a “ritual sacrifice” during a training camp in Georgia for a white supremacist group.

Patrik Mathews, William Garfield Bilbrough IV, Brian Mark Lemley Jr., Brandon Gregory Ashley and Duncan Christopher Trimmell were charged last week with aggravated animal cruelty and all but Trimmell were also charged with livestock theft by a Floyd County grand jury, according to an indictment first reported by the Rome News-Tribune.

Mathews, Lemley and Bilbrough were also arrested in Maryland and Delaware on federal felony charges in January 2020.

Floyd County prosecutors identified the animal, which they say was beheaded during a meeting of the group in October 2019, as a ram. Federal prosecutors have said it was a goat. They’ve said the men stole the animal and attempted unsuccessfully to kill it with a knife and then ended up shooting it to death and cutting off its head.

The killing happened at a training camp in North Georgia that prosecutors have said was organized by The Base, a white supremacist group that espoused using violence to accelerate overthrowing the U.S. government.

Three other men, all from North Georgia and linked by authorities to The Base, already face charges related to the animal’s death and other alleged crimes. Luke Austin Lane, Michael Helterbrand and Jacob Kaderli have been held without bond for more than a year in the Floyd County Jail.

The arrests of the Georgia men were announced in January 2020, a day after Mathews, Lemley and Bilbrough were arrested.

Helterbrand is also facing charges of aggravated sexual battery, terroristic threats and criminal street gang participation. He, along with the six other inmates charged in a February inmate attack, are alleged to be members of the Ghostface Gangsters criminal street gang.

“The group was involved in recruiting new members online, meeting to discuss strategy and practicing in paramilitary training camps on a 100-acre tract in Silver Creek,” Floyd Police said in a news release earlier this year.

The case is detailed in a 20-page affidavit describing how an undercover FBI agent infiltrated the group last year. He met with some of its members on the Lane family’s property in Silver Creek and participated in shooting drills to prepare for what the group calls the “Boogaloo,” or the collapse of the United States and a race war.

A neo-Nazi group that has been active online since it emerged in 2018, the Base portrays its members as “soldiers defending the European race against a system that is infected by Jewish values,” said Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

“This is a continuation of the threat of domestic terrorism that I think people are really wrapping their heads around finally,” Segal said. “To some degree, we have seen law enforcement talk about sort of doubling down on efforts to track this deadly threat. And maybe now we are starting to see some of the outcomes of that focus.”

Helterbrand’s attorney, Radford Bunker, maintains his client, who worked in the information technology industry, has no felony convictions and has supportive parents in St. Louis who are willing to post bond for him and let him live with them.