Inmate Found With Homemade Knife in Jail/Facing Additional Charge

A man accused of participating in a white supremacist group’s conspiracy to kill a Bartow County couple now faces an additional weapon charge for having a homemade knife at the jail.

According to Floyd County Jail reports, 25-year-old Michael John Helterbrand was found with a homemade knife known as a shank in the jail Tuesday afternoon.

Jail administrator Maj. Bob Sapp said they found the weapon during a random cell search. Sapp described the shank as about 7 inches long and made of thin metal, about a quarter inch thick. The end of the weapon had scraps of torn sheets wrapped around it to form a makeshift handle.

Sapp said it could have possibly been a metal handle that came off a bucket. He and the other jail staff are doing an internal search to find out how Helterbrand got the weapon in the first place.

Helterbrand, of Dalton, was arrested back in January on charges involving conspiracy to commit murder and participation in a criminal gang.

An FBI affidavit filed in their case stated that he, along with two other men — Jacob Kaderli and Luke Austin Lane — were involved in a white supremacist group known as The Base.

An FBI affidavit described the group as a collective of hardcore neo-Nazis, operating as a paramilitary organization that is hostile to minority communities. The Base recruits fellow white supremacists online, uses encrypted chat rooms and trains members in military-style camps in the woods, according to experts who track extremist groups.

Prosecutors contend the three men, along other members of the group, trained at Lane’s home on John Ingram Road in Silver Creek and planned to murder a Bartow County couple who participated in anti-fascist protests.

In a hearing last week the three men were denied bond by Floyd County Superior Court Chief Judge Bryant Durham.

This was the second time the men had been denied bond.

At the hearing attorneys for the three men said they were running into difficulties working on a defense because of COVID-19 measures at the jail and a large amount of evidence in the case. They all attended the hearing via a video conference from the jail.

In February, Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach denied bond for the men citing the men’s association with The Base — an international group which had already harbored at least one person fleeing from authorities.