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Suspect charged with 1st-degree murder in Sanford businesswoman's slaying

Richard Lawrence Barnes was taken to jail following questioning at the Orlando Police Department for the murder of Cynthia-McGee Bryant. 01-08-14
Richard Lawrence Barnes was taken to jail following questioning at the Orlando Police Department for the murder of Cynthia-McGee Bryant.
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Updated: 1/09 8:15 am
SANFORD, Fla. -- Sanford police have arrested a suspect in the shooting death of Cynthia McGee-Bryant.

Police had been searching for Richard Lawrence Barnes, 46, in connection with McGee's death.

"We do believe we have a killer in custody," said Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith.

According to police, Barnes was found walking along the 400 block of Magnolia Avenue in Orlando Wednesday following a tip that he was in the area.

Orlando and Sanford police took Barnes into custody. He is charged with first-degree murder.

"We had a great deal of info come in to us -- people calling Crimeline and people around the community that had interest in getting this resolved," said Smith.

Barnes was being questioned by police Wednesday at Orlando Police Department headquarters before being taken to jail later in the evening.

WFTV Channel 9's Renee Stoll was able to ask Barnes questions as he was being led off to jail Wednesday night. He repeatedly denied killing McGee.

"I didn't kill Cynthia, I love Cynthia," Barnes said.

McGee was found shot to death in a chair at her insurance office in Sanford Monday afternoon. Police said she had been shot two to four times.

Police said witnesses told them that Barnes, 46, was seen walking into the office on 25th Street, and that a few minutes later several gunshots were heard and Barnes was seen leaving the office.

McGee's body was discovered by a patron who stopped by the office to pay a bill, police said.

Police said Barnes, who has previous arrest records, was the on-again, off-again boyfriend of the victim over several months.

Barnes said that he has been in downtown Orlando and that surveillance cameras around the city will show that he could not have been in Sanford at the time of McGee's death.

"I never even left the Parramore area, I haven't. If they could just look at the video cameras—Church Street, Amway Center – you'll see I haven't even left Parramore," Barnes said.

McGee was well-known in the business community and church members said she was noted for her generosity.

Barnes former wife, Margaret Barnes, told Channel 9 that her former husband had violent tendencies and that she had warned McGee.

"He was like a con artist, he would play both of us," said Margaret Barnes. "I warned her about him. She went and told him."

As Barnes was being put into a police car, he said again that he didn't kill McGee.

"I love her family. I know what they are saying," Barnes said. "I love her. I didn't do it."

Barnes was being held at the Orange County Jail Wednesday night while he awaited transportation to the Seminole County Jail.

Video: WFTV Orlando
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