OKLAHOMA CITY A Tulsa woman shot to death after she tried to leave a Ku Klux Klan initiation in rural Louisiana was a gentle, lonely, and troubled person who likely reached out to the group seeking a sense of belonging, her former attorney said Thursday.
Cynthia Charlotte Lynch, 43, a 6-foot-tall divorcee with close-cropped hair, never gave any hint of racial hatred or prejudice, said Attorney Fred Henderson DeMier, who represented her in a drug case.
Ms. Lynch apparently contacted the loose-knit group known as the Sons of Dixie or Dixie Brotherhood over the Internet, then traveled by bus to Louisiana for the initiation. Investigators describe her as gullible and vulnerable and believe the trip was her first outside the Tulsa area.
I would think the reason she was even involved with these people was probably because she was extremely lonesome and wanted to be involved with something, Mr. DeMier said. She probably would have joined the Boy Scouts if she could have.
She was to return to Oklahoma and recruit members for the group, but something went wrong. Raymond Chuck Foster, 44, shot and killed her Sunday after a fight broke out when she tried to leave, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain said.
There was no evidence she was attacked or abused between the time she arrived at the campsite and the time she was killed.
So, whether or not she was homesick, whether events unfolded that she didn t care for, really, I guess we ll never know, Sheriff Strain said.
Investigators said statements from suspects suggested Ms. Lynch had gone through the initiation but didn t mix well with Mr. Foster, the group s leader, and was ready to leave after two days.
Mr. Foster was being held without bond on a second-degree murder charge. Seven others five men and two women ages 20 to 30 have been charged with obstruction of justice. All of those arrested were from Washington Parish. Investigators found weapons, several flags, and six Klan robes at the campsite in St. Tammany, about 60 miles north of New Orleans.
Sheriff Strain said two members of the group made a mistake by going to a convenience store and asking a clerk if there was something that could be used to remove blood. The clerk notified the sheriff s office.
Mr. DeMier represented Ms. Lynch after her 2005 arrest for drug possession, which court records show was her only run-in with law enforcement. A Tulsa police report indicates officers went to her apartment after a complaint about loud music and entered when Ms. Lynch refused to come to the door. They discovered a small bag of methamphetamine on a table.
Initially charged with drug possession, resisting arrest, obstruction, and breach of the peace, Ms. Lynch received a deferred sentence on the drug charge and the rest of the charges were dismissed.
Mr. DeMier said she exhibited signs of mental illness.
I don t think she always thought rationally, he said. I d be talking to the judge, and she would loudly speak to the judge when it was not appropriate to do so.
She was a really nice person just odd.
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which investigates and tracks hate groups, said that while Ms. Lynch has some characteristics of a prospective member, it s unusual that she would be recruited over the Internet.