Eddie Hatcher, an American Indian activist, who was convicted of murder and attracted worldwide attention when he and an accomplice took hostages at The Robesonian newspaper, died of natural causes in prison. He was 51.
Hatcher was serving a life sentence for the 1999 murder of Brian McMillian, 19, who Hatcher believed had something to do with a break-in at his mobile home.
McMillian was killed and a 17-year-old girl was wounded as she lay on the floor watching television.
Hatcher died Friday morning in Central Prison, according to a news release from the Department of Correction.
Hatcher brought national attention to charges of corruption in Robeson when Hatcher and a friend stormed the office of the local newspaper brandishing sawed-off shotguns and claiming to have a bomb. They chained the doors and held up to 14 people hostage for 10 hours, with Hatcher in near hysterics claiming his life was in danger because of what he knew of local law enforcement's involvement in cocaine trafficking. Taking over the newspaper building, he said, was the only way to draw attention to the corruption and save his own life.
He surrendered without injuring anyone when then-Gov. James G. Martin agreed to have a task force investigate the claims. Hatcher was acquitted on federal hostage-taking charges but was later found guilty of state kidnapping and weapons charges. He served five years of an 18-year sentence.
In the last six years, 22 members of the Robeson County sheriff's office, including the Sheriff have been hauled into court to face corruption charges, including allegations of drug dealing.