CITRUS HEIGHTS — A decade ago, the influence of white supremacist gangs in the Sacramento region was so prevalent that skinheads with swastika tattoos could walk into area restaurants without drawing a second glance.
Leaflets denouncing minorities routinely appeared on neighborhood lawns, three area synagogues were set ablaze, and a Shasta County gay couple were murdered by a pair of racist brothers.
Law enforcement began calling 1999 the "Summer of Hate" and cracked down on the gangs until they seemed to disappear.
But they never really went away, and the mysterious slaying inside a Citrus Heights home before dawn Wednesday served as a reminder that the groups are still present.
The victim is believed to be 40-year-old David Lynch, one of the nation's best known hate-group leaders and a skilled organizer who aimed to unite disparate skinhead gangs as a force against minorities.
Citrus Heights police did not formally release the name of the man found with gunshot wounds to his head and torso inside a house in the 5900 block of Merlindale Drive.
But Lynch is listed as an owner of the home, and hate group monitors said they had confirmed he was the victim.
Police also did not release the identity of a man detained Wednesday afternoon as a "person of interest," but three law enforcement sources told The Bee the individual was an associate of Lynch from the world of hate groups who recently had been fired by Lynch.
Police went to the house after a 4 a.m. 911 call reported shots being fired. Officers found the man dead in a bedroom and a 33-year-old woman with a leg wound in the hallway. A law enforcement source said detectives believe the assailant may have entered the home through an unlocked door.
The woman, whose name was not released, was taken to Mercy San Juan Medical Center and was expected to survive. Police said a teenage girl and another woman inside the house were unharmed.
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