More than 150 residents attended a community meeting
Friday night to ask questions about Glenn Haslam Barker, 43, a convicted
murderer who is living in South River.
The session, hosted by the South River Police
Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutorís Office, was held at
about the same time a similar town meeting was being held in Milltown,
where Barker works.
Officials from the prosecutorís office notified the
public last week that Barker had moved from Jackson, Ocean County, to
South River. The public notice distributed April 17 provides information
about Barker "so that persons may protect themselves and their families
from potential harm."
Barker was convicted in 1983 in Virginia of the
murder of 12-year-old girl Katie Worsky, who had been spending the night
at the house of a woman he was seeing. The girlís body was never found.
Barker served nine years of an 18-year prison sentence, and was released
on parole in 1992.
Two years earlier, he had been charged with
kidnapping a 16-year-old girl at knifepoint in North Carolina, tying her
to a bed and threatening to burn the house. The girl escaped, however.
Barker pleaded guilty to a lesser charge when the girl refused to
In 1998, Barker, then living in Old Bridge, was fired
as a basketball coach for the South Brunswick Family YMCA after it was
learned that he had been convicted in the murder.
He then moved to Jackson before returning to
Middlesex County more recently.
The public safety notice was provided to residents
last week through schools, day care centers, churches and hand-deliveries.
At Fridayís meeting, residents asked whether Barker
was still considered a threat and why they were being notified of his
Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Peter Hamerslag
said that although the law does not require residents to be notified,
the prosecutorís office felt it was appropriate. Officials discussed the
idea with the state attorney generalís office, which granted approval of
the notification, he said.
Barker is not currently charged with any crime, but
based on his history, authorities felt it was appropriate that residents
know about him, Hamerslag said.
"We felt that if heís living in South River, then you
should know about it," Hamerslag said.
The prosecutorís office learned of his whereabouts
several months ago, but had to wait for approval to release the
information, Hamerslag said. Law enforcement is "generally" aware of his
comings and goings, he noted, but he is not being followed at all times.
"Weíre still being very active in watching what he
does," said Lt. Ron Dixon of the Middlesex County Prosecutorís Office.
Resident Elaine Matthews asked if the surrounding
towns were going to be notified about Barker, but officials said there
are no plans to disseminate the notice in other towns.
Dixon said he believes the notification lets Barker
know that the police and residents know of his history, and are watching
South River Police Lt. John Bouthillette added that
since borough police officers handed out more than 2,000 fliers, there
are now 2,000 people in addition to the 31 police officers in South
River who are keeping an eye on him.
Residents asked if patrols in the area of his
residence were going to be increased and if the schools were going to
provide any added protection. South River Police Chief Wesley Bomba said
that patrols in Barkerís area have not been stepped up more than usual,
stating that there are not enough officers in the department to have
He said that they know where Barker is, and that
Barker knows that the police are watching him.
"He knows heís being followed, and he doesnít care,"
Bomba said. "Weíre here because our concerns are for the people and the
children in South River."
The chief added that officers in his department
volunteered their own time to hand out the releases to residents.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Ambrogi, who was
also at the meeting Friday to answer questions, said the school faculty
had an emergency meeting as soon as the information about Barker was
released. He said that if anyone suspicious is seen on school grounds,
authorities would be called immediately.
Bomba and Bouthillette also said that the police
teach students about "stranger danger." The safety programs taught by
police will be altered depending any occurrences in the community,
It is important to keep your children close to you
and to know where they are at all times, Ambrogi said. He said the
releases, provided about Barker, can be handed out at any day care
centers that have not yet received them.
When a resident asked if there was a way to run
Barker out of town, many of those in attendance loudly applauded.
Hamerslag cited the warning against vigilantism on
the release that was handed out to the residents. The notice states that
perpetrators of any unlawful activity against Barker, his property or
his employer will be arrested.
"At the moment, heís a regular citizen," he said.
Several residents commended the police for warning
them of Barkerís presence in the borough, saying that they were happy
officials were being "proactive."
One resident asked if there was a way for citizens to
be involved in a policing program. Bouthillette said that the department
is currently working on implementing a neighborhood watch program. More
information about this program will be available in the next couple
weeks, he said.
After his 1992 release from prison, Barker moved to
Richmond, Va., where he was a suspect in a double slaying there,
according to Richmond Police Capt. Arthur D. Roane.
In a 1998 interview, Roane said Barker remained a
suspect in the killing of Cynthia Powers Johnson and her 7-year-old
daughter, Heather, in 1996. Roane said Barker is believed to have had a
relationship with Johnson, prior to her death. Johnson and her daughter
were killed in their home before the home was burned, according to
police. Roane said there was no evidence connecting Barker to that case
and that any physical evidence was likely destroyed in the fire.
In 1998, Barker moved to Old Bridge and volunteered
as a youth basketball coach in South Brunswick. He was eventually hired
by the facility to coach on a part-time basis.
During the summer of 1998, the Middlesex County
Prosecutorís Office learned of Barkerís criminal past and notified local
police and the YMCA. At that time, the organization could not conduct
criminal background checks outside of New Jersey and so remained unaware
of his past.
YMCA Branch Director David Anderson said then that
Barker had lied on his application and that he did not admit to being
convicted of a crime. Barker was fired from his position, and parents of
children on his teams were notified of his past.
Barker moved to Jackson, following the coverage of
the story in the local press.
Since that incident, several groups, working with
children, have changed their policies to demand an FBI background check
as well as a local check.
Glenn Barker: Serial killer or convenient
By Courteney Stuart - Readthehood.com
July 19, 2007
Remembering Katie Worsky
In last week's cover story, we remembered Katie
Worsky, a 12-year-old girl abducted from a sleep-over and presumed
dead. The case rocked Charlottesville, and after a lengthy
investigation and trial, Glenn Haslam Barker was convicted of second-degree
murder in her death, only the second murder conviction without a body
Among the evidence: bloody wet men's
clothes between the mattresses of Barker's bed and bloodstained girls'
panties hidden in his sock drawer. Despite the conviction, Barker has
never hinted at where Worsky's body might be found. And that's because,
Barker says, he is an innocent man unfairly linked to various unsolved
On April 30, 1992, the doors of the
Buckingham Correctional Center swung open, and a free man walked out.
Nine years after his conviction for the 1982 murder of 12-year-old
Katherine Sybil "Katie" Worsky, who disappeared during a sleep-over,
Glenn Haslam Barker-- benefiting from what Governor George Allen has
called a "lenient, dishonest" parole system-- had served just half his
sentence. At 33 years old, he still had most of his life ahead of him.
Barker might have settled somewhere and
lived out his days quietly. In fact, he claims he tried to do just
that. But within a few years, it was clear that his hopes for a life
of tranquility and anonymity would continually be dashed.
As Barker moved around Virginia and
eventually to New Jersey, headlines reported the furor his presence
inspired. Warned by police of Barker's arrival, people picketed in
front of his house as television cameras rolled.
Yet if his conviction for Katie Worsky's
murder was enough to create fear, his connection to a gruesome double
murder in 1996, four years after his release, sent new ripples of
terror up and down the East Coast. Despite the fact that Barker has
never been charged-- much less convicted-- in any other murder case,
many people contacted for this story remain afraid of him.
"If he ever showed up on my doorstep..."
says more than one source, trailing off before requesting anonymity.
Says another: "I don't even want him to know I'm alive."
Barker has long maintained that he has
been unfairly targeted by police trying to connect him to cases with
no other suspects. In addition to maintaining he was wrongly convicted
in Katie Worsky's death, Barker says law enforcement agents have
persecuted him by naming him publicly as a suspect even when there is
no evidence to implicate him and fanning public perception of him as a
Is Glenn Barker evil incarnate, or is he
simply a man with remarkably bad luck?
Free at last
Freedom can be difficult for any inmate
released after serving a long sentence, but for a convicted child
killer, the challenge is even greater. When Barker left prison at age
33, he did not return to Charlottesville, where he'd been convicted in
Katie Worsky's death; instead, he moved with his mother to King
William County northeast of Richmond. But even there, the neighbors
did not welcome him, particularly after Robert Ressler, the famed FBI
profiler turned best-selling author, declared that Barker would very
likely kill again.
"I had a young daughter," says Carol
Nicely, a now-retired Richmond police captain who happened to live
within sight of the Barker home. Nicely says she stopped letting her
daughter ride her bike alone or walk to neighbors' houses. News
reports from the time suggest neighbors' fears reached fever pitch
when Ressler noted that Barker's age still left him in his killing
If most people reviled him, Barker was
able to connect with someone. Cynthia Powers Johnson met Barker soon
after his release, and the two began dating. Barker says she was aware
of his past, but the single mother was willing to give him the benefit
of the doubt, even as the protests-- and the publicity-- mounted.
During that time, Barker agreed to an
interview with the Tidewater Review in which he promised he
was no threat.
"I truly believe that the people in the
community are not bad people, just misinformed," he said. "I'm sure
they're nice, and they're scared and afraid. I'm no different-- I've
just maybe a little more experience in some things than they have, and
murder is not one of them..."
His appeasing words didn't soothe
neighbors, but folks in Prince William wouldn't have to live with
Barker for long.
At 1am on March 26, 1993, Barker was
pulled over in Henrico County for a broken tail light. If the stop was
routine, what police discovered was chilling: a partially concealed
sawed-off pellet gun and handcuffs. Profiler Ressler testified that
even if the handcuffs could be explained, the combination of the two
items in the car had a "stronger implication." Officers called it a
Initially, officers allowed Barker to
leave the scene because they weren't sure the pellet gun counted as a
firearm, but about a week later, he was arrested and later found
guilty of possessing a firearm as a felon. He was sent back to jail
for six months.
Speaking today from his home in South
River, New Jersey, Barker insists there was an innocent explanation
for the forbidden items. He had the pellet gun, he claims, because he
"I came out to my car one day, and the
door was bashed in," he recalls. Since he was dating Cynthia Johnson,
he says, often both she and her daughter, Heather, were with him.
"I didn't care about my safety," he
insists. "I did care about theirs. The only reason I had the B.B. gun
was in case somebody tried to stop me on the road and Cynthia or
Heather was with me, I'd pull the gun out and point it at whoever was
going to bother me to get Cynthia over into the driver's seat."
"Was it stupid?" he asks. "I'd rather be
stupid than have Cynthia or Heather get hurt. My main concern was
As for the handcuffs, those, too, were
harmless, he says.
"Cynthia had given me those as a joke,
and they were in the car," he says. "They weren't real; they didn't
lock. You can get them at the Dollar Store. I threw them in the back
of the truck. I never thought nothing about it."
Unfortunately, neither Cynthia Johnson
nor her daughter will ever be able to confirm that account.
AUGUST 29, 1996, Richmond
Towering trees shade West Junaluska
Drive, an enclave of well-maintained brick ranchers and split-levels
with manicured lawns that reflect the pride of their owners. It's a
neighborhood in transition-- young professionals moving in to join the
retirees who remain to enjoy their golden years remembering children
raised there decades earlier.
On a recent weekday morning, Bob Midkiff
is one of the few people at home in this South Richmond neighborhood.
Retired from his job as an Exxon executive, Midkiff, 83, has lived in
his home on Junaluska Court, around the corner from Junaluska Drive,
for 43 years. "It's a quiet neighborhood," he says, a place where
neighbors wave but respect each other's privacy.
He remembers Cynthia Johnson and seven-year-old
Heather playing outside and waving to him when he'd drive past their
house at 6535 West Junaluska Drive.
A few doors down from that house,
another couple also recall Cynthia and Heather as friendly and quiet,
though neither knew them well. But no longtime neighbors will ever
forget August 29, 1996.
In the early morning hours, firefighters
discovered 34-year-old Cynthia Johnson dead in a family room near the
carport and Heather in a bedroom at the front of the one-story house.
At least seven fires had been set, but neither mother nor daughter had
died of smoke inhalation.
"It was a horrific crime," says Richmond
Sheriff C.T. Woody, a Richmond police officer at the time. Woody
declines to discuss the exact nature of the injuries, but he calls
"Being in homicide for 22 years, I've
seen a lot of things," says Woody. "That's one I'll always remember."
Police quickly targeted Barker.
"She was in the process of getting away
from him," says Woody. Johnson and Heather had recently returned from
a vacation with another man Johnson had become involved with, Woody
says, and Barker wasn't happy.
"He did not want her to go on the
vacation, according to her father, whom I talked to," Woody says. (Citing
frustration with past news coverage and a desire to keep a low profile,
Johnson's family declined to be interviewed for this story.)
Woody says the investigation floundered
because investigators were never able to place Barker at the scene. He
says a neighbor believed he'd seen Barker's pick-up, notable for a
Redskins sticker on the back, near the house the night of crime, but
the neighbor would not testify.
Police interrogated Barker several
times, says Woody, who kept a picture of the crime scene on his desk "to
remind me how important it was to go after who did this." Woody
says that even when he showed Barker the gruesome pictures of
the burned corpses of his ex-girlfriend and her daughter, he showed no
emotion. "He's a very cold individual," Woody says.
The sheriff says police couldn't
determine where Barker was between 11pm and 2am on the night Cynthia
and Heather Johnson were killed, but that he lied about his alibi. "He's
a pathological liar," says Woody. "He covers his tracks very well."
Barker responds that if he showed no
emotion, it was because he knew he was the prime suspect in a crime he
insists he didn't commit. Police, he says, "went so far as to say they
had neighbors that had me there that night. They told me they found my
semen there and things like this." He cites the latter allegation as
proof of police trickery, claiming that health problems had by then
made him impotent.
"They didn't try to ask me questions,"
Barker says. "They tried to convict me right then instead of looking
where they should have been looking."
Barker says he and Johnson had ended
their romantic relationship, in part because of his impotence, but
that they remained friends. He says Johnson called him the night she
was killed, asking him to come to the house, but that he declined to
"Now I wish I had," he says, "because
either I would have been dead or I would have prevented what happened
The case remains open. Today, the
Richmond police website asks anyone with information to contact
detectives and, noting that a pizza was delivered to Johnson's house
the night of the murders, seeks any information about the delivery
In addition to that request for
information, neighbors on and around West Junaluska say police are
still actively pursuing the case. Within the past two years, says Bob
Midkiff, police set up a roadblock and asked everyone who passed to
share any information they could recall about the night of the crime.
Roosevelt Welch, who five years ago
moved into a house across the street and a few houses down from
Johnson's, says even if police are seeking a pizza driver, they still
seem to consider Barker the prime suspect.
"They said the guy who did it lives in
New Jersey," he reports. Midkiff reports hearing similar information.
Richmond Police Sgt. Max Matco, in
charge of the cold file, declined specific comment on the
investigation, but Woody says he's still haunted.
"It's one of the few cases that I was
unable to solve, that bothered me and still bothers me greatly," says
Woody. "I still see the little girl, Heather."
Angier, North Carolina, February,
While Barker denies involvement in the
deaths of Katie Worsky and Cynthia and Heather Johnson, there is one
crime to which he has always admitted.
In 1981, when he was 22 and living in
Angier, North Carolina, Barker pled guilty to a reduced charge of "assault
on a female" after abducting an 18-year-old acquaintance at knifepoint
and tying her to his bed. The young woman, who had known Barker for a
year through her boyfriend, was leaving church one February night
around 9 when she noticed Barker following her.
Barker motioned for her to stop and
asked if they could talk. She allowed him into the car, and they drove
around for about 20 minutes, until she returned to his driveway to
drop him off. At that point, according to court documents, he pulled a
knife, held it to her throat, and took her inside because "he just
needed someone tonight." When Barker left the residence to move her
car, his victim-- who'd been tied to his bedposts face down on the bed--
escaped out a window and ran to a friend's house.
Police believed Barker intended to cause
her further harm, but when the victim refused to testify, the charges
were reduced. He received a two-year-suspended sentence and moved soon
after to Charlottesville, where his mother and step-father lived.
As reported in last week's Hook
cover story, "Little Girl Lost: Remembering Katie Worsky after 25
years," Barker calls the North Carolina incident a "mistake" and
insists he never meant to harm the woman. His wife had recently left
him, he says, and he was drinking and using drugs. When he realized
what was happening, he went outside and watched her escape.
"I just wanted the company," he explains.
Life for the young Barker had posed some
challenges. When he was six, Barker's parents divorced and he remained
with his mother in Hopewell. They stayed in Virginia another eight
years, eventually moving to Chester before relocating to Angier, North
Carolina in time for high school. By his own and others' accounts, he
was a football star at Harnett County Central High School, from which
he graduated in 1978. College scholarship offers for the 6'5", 240-pound
Barker were forthcoming.
"He could have written his ticket," says
a former acquaintance who attended high school with Barker and spoke
on condition of anonymity. According to Barker's school transcripts in
his Charlottesville court file, he was a C student whose talent lay
primarily on athletic fields.
During his senior year, Barker's young
girlfriend, Lynn, a pretty, petite sophomore, became pregnant. Instead
of following his dream of playing college ball, he married her, and
soon after graduation he took a job in a local factory to support his
wife and infant son, Glenn Haslam Barker Jr., born in February 1979.
According to court documents, a second
child-- a girl-- was born "in January or February 1981," but was given
up for adoption three days after birth-- at approximately the same
time Lynn left him and that he committed the abduction he says sparked
all the later suspicion about him.
"Police look at that [abduction] and
assume I must be involved in all these other crimes," he says.
According to documents in the Worsky
file, Barker did begin his court-ordered treatment-- first at Dorothea
Dix Hospital, a Raleigh psychiatric facility, and then through Region
10 Community Services Board in Charlottesville.
A report from North Carolina reveals
that in March 1981-- less than a month after the abduction-- Barker
was diagnosed with a "dependent personality" and with "adjustment
disorder with depressed mood," a diagnosis that could fit almost
anyone who seeks psychological counseling.
Barker, the report reveals, said he was
seeking psychological help "to find out why I did this."
At Region 10, Barker saw a therapist on
three occasions, but he terminated treatment, according to court
documents, after a therapist suggested his impulsive behavior might
have been prompted by "long-standing anger at women."
According to the document, that
suggestion so distressed Barker that he asked for a change of
therapist, and when that failed, he stopped attending the sessions. If
Region 10 failed to follow up with Barker, however, the decision might
have been based on the judgment of the North Carolina psychiatrist who
signed Barker's papers and recommended probation for the abduction.
"In my opinion," the psychiatrist wrote,
"he is not dangerous to others."
Just over a year later, 12-year-old
Katie Worsky disappeared-- and she wasn't the only young female to go
missing in Central Virginia that summer.
JUNE 18, 1982 HARRISONBURG
For Kelly Bergh Dove, her job at the
Imperial gas station on South Main Street in Harrisonburg was a
temporary stop on a way to a better life.
At 20, Dove was the married mother of a
four-year-old daughter. She had finished high school a year early and
was registered to attend Blue Ridge Community College in September.
Dove's three sisters all worked at the
Imperial station, then the lone building on an isolated stretch of
road about a mile south of the James Madison University campus. On
Thursday night, June 17, Dove agreed to trade with one of her sisters
and work the overnight shift.
After midnight on June 18, Dove called
Harrisonburg police to report that a man driving a silver Ford had
been harassing her. She explained she was working alone and implored,
"Could you keep an eye on me?"
In a second call, she reported the man
had come in and had been "dressed improperly." She'd received a
threatening phone call, and when she called police a third time, just
before 2:30am, she sounded panicked. "Please hurry," she said. "He's
According to published accounts, police
arrived at the station just two minutes after Dove's third call, but
they found only her purse and a magazine she'd been reading
undisturbed on the counter. Dove was gone.
Like Katie Worsky's parents, Fred and
Rachel Bergh have lived for the past 25 years with the agony of not
knowing what happened to their child.
Reached in Niceville, Florida, where the
couple now live after raising Dove's daughter, her mother, Rachel
Bergh, says details of that night are etched in her mind.
Police called sometime after 3am and
told her she needed to come to the station. Bergh says she didn't
learn Kelly was missing until she arrived, and she was bothered by the
way police seemed to be handling the scene. They never closed the
store, she says, never took fingerprints. She also doubts that they
had arrived as soon after Kelly's call as they claimed.
Harrisonburg police did not return the
Hook's repeated calls.
Could Glenn Barker have been responsible
for Kelly Dove's disappearance more than 70 miles from Charlottesville?
In the months that followed, news reports claimed that Barker-- who
sometimes drove a Ford-- had been seen painting his car in the days
after Kelly disappeared.
Barker maintains that police ruled him
out as a suspect in Dove's disappearance because he'd been at a family
reunion where several relatives verified his presence. And the Berghs
say they believe someone else was responsible, a man Kelly had known
"He had a silver Ford," says Kelly's
sister, Elaine Bergh, declining to name the suspect. "He'd been in
trouble before with indecent exposure and phone calls," she says, "but
there was nothing concrete they could prove."
Still, the Berghs say they wonder about
Barker. One of Kelly Dove's friends traveled to Charlottesville every
day of Barker's 1983 trial.
"She wanted to make sure it wasn't him,"
says Elaine Bergh, who named her own daughter Kelly after her missing
sister and remains close to Kelly's daughter, Tami, now 29 and a
Rachel Bergh remembers Kelly, the middle
of her five children, as a "very strong person, a loving mother, and
very independent." The
pain of the loss and the continuing mystery remains close to the
"Today is my birthday," Kelly's mother
says during a recent interview, beginning to weep. "We get by. You
just always wonder how much pain she went though or what happened to
JUNE 19, 1982, Charlottesville
The night after Kelly Dove disappeared
in Harrisonburg and just three weeks before Katie Worsky disappeared
from McElroy Drive in Charlottesville, another young woman was
finishing her evening shift at a Charlottesville restaurant. A petite
strawberry blond, Paula Jean Chandler was 18 years old and a new
graduate of Albemarle High School working for the summer at El
Cabrito's Mexican restaurant across Hydraulic Road from her alma mater.
After work that night, Chandler asked a
co-worker if she could go with him to his apartment to watch
television. Two days later, a fisherman hooked her body near the dam
at the Rivanna Reservoir.
Although headlines about the case would
soon be eclipsed by Katie Worsky's disappearance, Chandler's murder
ignited a firestorm. Chandler had water in her lungs, suggesting
drowning, but she also suffered more ominous injuries: two head wounds
from blunt trauma. The front page of the June 21, 1982 Daily
Progress featured a large photograph of a sheriff's deputy
pulling on the arm of Chandler's corpse, still partially submerged.
Photographer Jim Carpenter, who took the
picture, says the newspaper was criticized for publishing it. "The
phones lit up like a Christmas tree," he recalls.
While many callers were horrified at the
graphic image, Carpenter remembers one appreciative call from a local
"He said, 'I know you're catching holy
heck about this picture,'" Carpenter recalls. But then he described
his 16-year-old daughter's reaction to the photo: "She looked me right
in the eye," the father told Carpenter, "and said, 'Dad, now I know
why you want to know where I am all the time.'
"Who knows?" says Carpenter. "It could
have saved a life."
The case generated an even larger
controversy when a key piece of evidence was disallowed.
Michael Currie, a 19-year-old cook,
admitted that Chandler had come back to his apartment where, he
claimed, they had watched the comedy classic, Stripes. But he
insisted that he had dropped her back at her car at the restaurant
around 3am, though he hadn't stayed to watch her leave.
Police immediately suspected Currie, and
a search of his apartment revealed a disturbing find: one of
Chandler's shoes. The other had been found still on her foot in the
reservoir. Authorities moved in on Currie and arrested him at Lupo's,
El Cabrito's sister restaurant on Emmet Street across from U-Hall.
Those who knew Currie, though, say that
despite the arrest and the shoe, they never believed he was guilty.
"He was just a quiet guy. He said that
they were blaming him, but he didn't do it," says Jill Houchens, the
only other employee at
Lupo's the day Currie was arrested.
Corven Flynn, son of Lupo's and El
Cabrito's owner Dave Flynn, agrees that Currie seemed an unlikely
killer. Flynn was 18 and managing El Cabrito's when Chandler died. Now
43 and a realtor, he says Albemarle police "closed their eyes to the
possibility that Glenn Barker had anything to do with Paula Chandler."
Among Flynn's reasons for suspecting
Barker: Chandler, who had a boyfriend, had received a call from
another man that evening, someone she may have been planning to meet
later that night. Also, Flynn says, the time of her death was based on
the autopsy report of food found in her stomach. El Cabrito's
employees said she'd eaten dinner at the restaurant the night she
disappeared, but Flynn says the food found in her stomach was not
offered on El Cabrito's menu.
Barker lived in an apartment on
Georgetown Road at the time, just a mile from El Cabrito's, and
Chandler lived with her father in the Southwood Trailer Park on Old
Lynchburg Road, close to where Katie Worsky disappeared.
Barker denies having known Chandler or
having any role in her death.
While Paula Chandler's parents learned
their daughter's fate-- unlike the Worskys and the Doves-- there has
never been a conviction. The evidence discovered in Currie's house was
ruled inadmissable because police hadn't told Currie he was a suspect
when they came to check his apartment and he allowed them to do so
without a warrant. Without the shoe as evidence, the case fell apart,
and charges were dropped.
Today, Albemarle Police Lieutenant John
Teixeira says the department considers the case closed since they
believed they had the right person when they arrested Currie but
simply couldn't make the charges stick.
Flynn says Currie and his family, who'd
lived in Albemarle County for years, moved out of state and that
Currie went to mechanics school and sought to put the episode behind
"I think, basically, it ruined his life
in Charlottesville and Albemarle," Flynn says.
Currie's attorney, Gary Kendall,
declined to put the Hook in touch with Currie, and would make
no specific comment on the case or his client because charges could
still be brought. (Virginia has no statute of limitations on felonies.)
Still, Kendall adds of Currie, "I always believed in his innocence."
South River, New Jersey, 1998
The Worsky, Chandler, and Dove
disappearances were 15 years in the past by the time Glenn Barker
moved to New Jersey in 1997. But because of Cynthia and Heather
Johnson's deaths the previous year, Barker remained on police radar.
In South Brunswick, he took jobs in
construction and also decided to donate time to a community group.
Barker's choice of community group, however, pushed him back into
national headlines-- and traumatized dozens of parents.
In 1998, it was revealed that after
volunteering at the YMCA, he had been hired part-time to coach a girls'
basketball team. When police officers reported his history to YMCA
officials, Barker was fired and all parents were notified.
"He was an all-around nice guy," one
father of a child on Barker's team told a reporter. "Now she's
supposed to be afraid of him," he said, adding that he'd told his
daughter to "run in the other direction" if she ever saw Barker again.
South Brunswick YMCA executive director
Tom Libassi was on the Y's board when the situation arose. Saying the
files from that time are now in storage, he declines to offer details
on Barker's hiring, but he recalls the firing. "We changed a number of
policies and procedures as a result of that," he says.
Published reports indicated that Barker
lied on his application, and Barker admits he did not answer one
question about previous felony convictions. The former football star
says he just wanted a chance to donate his talent and never
specifically asked to coach girls. Barker insists he was never alone
with any child, and he acknowledges that omitting the information was
In 2002, New Jersey officials
distributed fliers once again, this time announcing that the convicted
child killer, then living in South River and working in Milltown, was
known to stop to help female motorists.
As he did in Virginia, Barker again
tried to assure his neighbors that he posed no threat. In his own
fliers, which he placed on car windshields around his house, Barker
wrote, "No one in this community or any other community has anything
to fear about me."
Despite warnings from a Middlesex County
prosecutor against "vigilante justice," Barker says his car was egged,
and once-friendly neighbors stopped speaking. Indeed, Barker says
today that he has no friends, and all romantic relationships cease
after police tell his girlfriends that he is dangerous. He relates one
incident in which police were rebuffed by one girlfriend, so they
notified her family, who then pressured her to break up with him.
If police feel a duty to warn people
about Barker, it may stem from the fact that he has never been
convicted of a sex crime. Therefore, he has no duty to register his
whereabouts, and he's free to move from locality to locality, even
state to state, without telling anyone.
Barker says he remains close to his
mother, with whom he lives, and his brother, Milton L. Barker of
Norfolk. He hasn't seen or spoken to his namesake son since the 1983
Worsky conviction, although he says he wrote his son letters for years,
all of which were returned. Ten years ago-- when Glenn Jr. turned 18--
Barker sent his last letter expressing a desire for a relationship,
but he says his son has not responded.
Barker says his health is failing-- he's
a diabetic who has suffered two strokes and three heart attacks-- and
wishes for the most part to be left alone.
"It has not been a good life," he says,
adding that he doesn't blame the public for fearing him, but he does
resent what he perceives as unwarranted persecution by police
determined to keep warning neighbors, businesses, and potential
friends to stay away and pointing to him whenever something terrible
happens to a little girl.
Among the cases police have suspected
him in: the high-profile kidnapping and murder of Kristin and Kati
Lisk, who disappeared from their home in Spotsylvania in May 1996 and
were found murdered five days later-- less than four months before
Cynthia and Heather Johnson's deaths. In 2002, DNA evidence and an
automobile trunk palm print showed definitively that Barker wasn't the
killer. They implicated Richard Mark Evonitz, who shot himself as
officers closed in on him in Florida. That evidence also conclusively
linked Evonitz to the murder of 16-year-old Sophia Silva, another
Spotsylvania teen killed eight months before the Lisks.
Barker says that speculation about his
guilt or innocence is pointless, particularly about the Worsky case.
People "don't care," he says. "I was found guilty, bottom line."
As for the subsequent cases and
investigations, "There are some people who'd say that my civil rights
have been violated," he says.
Barker says that he used to be a person
who would offer assistance to anyone who needed it, but the constant
harassment has caused him to withdraw. It's "changed me into a person
who doesn't care about my fellow man," he says.
As for the unsolved mysteries with his
name attached, Barker is philosophical.
"I can't prove that I didn't do it," he
says, "just like they can't prove that I did."
Little girl lost: Remembering Katie
Worsky after 25 years
By Courteney Stuart - Readthehood.com
July 12, 2007
Polly Klaas. Samantha Runnion. Jessica
Lunsford. Their names and faces are familiar-- exhaustive national
news coverage of their abduction and death has burned them into the
The contrast between photos of their
shining eyes, wide grins, and dimpled cheeks and the incessantly
replayed videos of their anguished parents begging futilely for their
children's safe return has made the missing child-- especially a
missing girl-- almost a symbol of society's dark side in the last
decade. But before Amber Alerts and 24-hour cable news cycles etched
the faces of the lost children and the plight of their parents in the
national psyche, a little Charlottesville girl went on a sleep-over
and never came home.
At a time when children rode their bikes
alone and residents left their doors unlocked, the disappearance of
Katie Worsky on July 12, 1982 rocked this sleepy college town and
launched an investigation that seasoned law enforcement officers
called "once in a lifetime" for its poignancy and complexity.
For weeks, dogs, search crews,
helicopters, and even psychics scoured Charlottesville and Albemarle
County for Katie. And although her body was never found, a year later,
a Charlottesville jury convicted 24-year-old Glenn Haslam Barker of
second degree murder based on what prosecutors called a "rope" of
circumstantial evidence tying him to Katie.
It was just the second murder conviction
in Virginia without a body, but if the parents felt any satisfaction
in the conviction, it faded less than a decade later when the
convicted killer went free.
Earlier this month, Katie's parents,
Robin and Alan Worsky-- who divorced the year after Barker's
conviction-- meet outside a coffeeshop on Pantops Mountain. On a
breezy summer afternoon, they remember Katie as a tomboy who loved
fishing and playing sports, a child who remained cheerful despite
daily insulin injections for Type I diabetes which she'd had since she
So many years later, Robin Worsky's pain
is still fresh. Talking about her middle daughter brings quick tears,
for which she apologizes.
"It doesn't get any easier," she says,
shaking her head and covering her eyes.
On this day at least, Alan keeps his
pain closer. A salesman by trade, he has a personable demeanor, a firm
handshake, and a steady gaze. He smiles frequently, a broad toothy
grin that invites others to smile with him-- and is a reminder of
Katie, who favored him.
was my little buddy," he says, recalling his daughter, blond and small
for her age, begging to come with him on Chesapeake Bay fishing
expeditions. Robin agrees that Katie was closer to Alan, though both
parents adored all three children-- Katie, their older daughter, Jamie,
who was 15 at the time of the disappearance, and John, who was five.
At the time, Alan Worsky was a car
salesman, and the family lived in an apartment in the Four Seasons
subdivision off Rio Road. In that summer of 1982, E.T. and
Poltergeist were big hits at the movie theater, and the
shopping centers of Route 29 ended at Fashion Square. For the Fourth
of July, a Sunday, the Worskys and the children traveled to a family
reunion in Staunton, Robin's hometown, where the couple had met soon
after Alan graduated from Staunton Military Academy in 1965.
The following weekend, however, the five
Worskys were home together until Sunday, July 11, after Katie asked to
spend the night at a friend's house. Initially, Robin and Alan say,
they said no, though neither can recall their reason. But they
remember that Katie was persistent.
"She begged and begged, 'Please, please!'"
says Robin. "She won the battle and got to go, but it's ironic that we
tried to stop her-- for whatever reason."
In late afternoon, Alan drove Katie to
2745 McElroy Drive, a modest brick rancher at the end of a wooded cul-de-sac
just off Old Lynchburg Road near Fry's Spring Beach Club. Katie was to
spend the night with a former neighbor, a single mother of two named
Carrie Gates, whose 13-year-old daughter, Tammy Thomas, was one of
Katie's close friends. Though Gates had moved from the county to the
city and the girls attended different schools-- Katie was a rising
seventh grader at Burley while Tammy was entering eighth grade at
Buford-- they'd had sleep-overs before at each other's houses without
incident, and the Worskys say they had no reason to worry.
They never saw Katie again.
Like so many horror stories, the Worskys'
nightmare started with a call. At approximately 5:30am on July 12, a
groggy Robin Worsky answered the insistent ringing of the phone. On
the other end, a woman asked: "Is Katie there?" It was Carrie Gates.
"I said, 'What do you mean is Katie here?'
Robin recalls. "She's at your house."
The Worskys raced across town. When they
first arrived at McElroy Drive, they say, Katie's disappearance didn't
"We were frantically searching the whole
house," says Robin, "thinking she's hiding, playing a game with us."
Gates had not yet called the police, but the Worskys swiftly insisted
upon it, and, they say, by approximately 7am the property was secured
as a crime scene.
Before the police arrived, however,
another person showed up to help in the search: a 23-year-old
convenience store clerk named Glenn Haslam Barker.
Robin says she had never seen Barker, a
hulking 6'5" former high-school football standout, but for Alan,
Barker was familiar: he'd worked at a gas station on Pantops where
Alan frequently purchased coffee and cigarettes.
"When he saw me, his eyes got big as
silver dollars," says Alan. "I knew right then and there that
something was wrong."
The police also had immediate suspicions.
Barker had dated Gates, but by this time any romantic relationship was
over. Barker readily admitted he'd been the last to see Katie the
previous night, when the two girls and Tammy's younger brother, Eddie
Thomas, had gone to bed. Details of Barker's story would have been
troubling to many parents.
He admitted he'd brought a six pack of
beer over and had given Katie and Tammy at least one each, though
Tammy later testified they'd had more. Barker said he'd left the house
around 12:30am, having tucked eight-year-old Eddie into bed, and after
checking on Katie and Tammy, who he said were sleeping peacefully on
the ground floor.
But police weren't buying his story.
In the days that followed Katie's
disappearance, the Charlottesville community searched together, hoping
for a miracle, wondering how long the 12-year-old-- if she was still
alive-- could survive without her insulin, which had been found with
her shoes and other belongings at her friend's house.
As days turned to weeks, the search
turned grimmer. Circling vultures anywhere in the area prompted search
groups to investigate, hoping to at least bring closure to the
nightmare. Divers and canoers searched the Rivanna River, dogs scoured
the woods around McElroy Drive, and helicopters hovered overhead.
Rumors flew that Katie's body was under
the new Hardee's at Pantops. The Charlottesville police chief wanted
to dig through tons of refuse at the Ivy Landfill, although concerns
about biohazards and lack of a solid lead to the site derailed that
suggestion. Desperate, police even agreed to consult with psychic
Noreen Renier, who predicted Katie's body was near a shed on a
hillside somewhere in Albemarle County.
Katie's classmates at Burley, including
one 12-year-old named Rosemary Beard, joined in the search. Today, the
memory of the events is still strong for Rosemary Beard Heflin, now
"It really rocked our world," she says.
"We always thought of Charlottesville as a very safe place. Parents
didn't think twice about dropping their kids off to go to the mall.
"I felt very helpless, very frightened,"
Heflin says, recalling a day in a canoe with her father looking for
Katie on the Rivanna River.
Heflin says that after Katie's
disappearance, many parents became more cautious. "And yet it was such
a benign thing," she says, "letting her spend the night at her
Katie's parents were among the searchers.
In one of many July Daily Progress articles, Alan described
driving the roads of Albemarle County, "just looking to see if I can
see a little girl with blond hair wandering around in a pink t-shirt."
On July 15, Police Chief John "Dek"
Bowen held a press conference to announce agonizing news: police were
calling off the full-scale search, although smaller search operations
continued, as officers followed up on dozens of tips.
Bowen, who retired in 1994, recalls the
time as "frustrating."
"All of us were out searching, walking
areas where we thought there was a chance she might be," says Bowen,
now 73. "It was a very personal case to the police department. It
While police had had no luck finding the
missing girl, they were more successful unearthing clues.
Hours after Katie's disappearance, they
made some discoveries when, with Barker's permission, they searched
his apartment in the Hessian Hills Apartments on Georgetown Road. They
discovered wet, blood-stained men's clothing and towels between the
mattress and box spring of Barker's bed and in a cooler. Barker, who
was present for the search, appeared shocked at the discovery.
"There was a surprised look on Barker's
face," said Detective Bill Davis on an NBC29 video. "You know how you
look at somebody and they think, well you found their secret?" Davis,
who died last year, said on the tape that Barker claimed he didn't
know how the clothing had gotten there-- a statement Barker would
maintain long after his conviction.
In the years before DNA testing,
matching blood stains by blood type was the best way to determine who
blood might have come from. The stains on the wet clothes matched
Barker's Type A, but they also showed blood of Type B. Unfortunately,
despite Katie's diabetes, her blood had never been typed, and
investigators could not connect the clothing to the crime-- yet.
Convinced that they might have missed
something, investigators got a warrant to search Barker's apartment a
second time the following week, this time without giving him notice.
They had nearly given up the search when lead investigator Jim Haden
checked Barker's dresser drawers. Inside a pair of rolled-up socks,
there was a balled-up pair of girls' panties. On the back of the
panties was what appeared to be a tiny blood stain that could be
consistent with the location where Katie injected her insulin.
Still, investigators didn't know Katie's
blood type. It wasn't until January 1983, after investigators had
spent months looking for a way to match the blood, that Katie's
parents discovered a solution. There were several stains on Katie's
mattress. Katie, they revealed, had recently begun menstruating, and
the only other person to have slept in the bed was her menopausal
grandmother, they said. Excited, police tested the mattress and
discovered that five of the stains were blood. And more significantly,
it was Type B. The rope was tightening.
Though investigators suspected Barker
from the beginning, then-Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dick
Barrick didn't want to rush to press charges for fear that a jury
wouldn't convict without a body.
"She could have wandered off and died
from shock or something from not taking her insulin," says Barrick,
who retired to private practice in 1989. "She could have been
Barrick, 78, explains his decision to
wait more than six months before having Barker arrested. "I wanted to
make sure I had every bit of circumstantial evidence, and we were
hoping in the meantime that we could either find Katie alive somewhere,
or at worst, discover her body."
The arrest came on January 29, 1983 and
the trial nearly six months later. It was unlike any other trial
Barrick can recall. The normally sparsely filled courtroom was packed
with spectators as forensic experts and witnesses testified. Officers
and even the Worskys themselves were barred from the trial because
they would be witnesses in the largely circumstantial case.
The jury of eight women and four men
listened to days of testimony from Katie's family, Carrie Gates, and
Tammy Thomas, and from hosts of officers and forensic experts. Several
of the jurors still recall the experience in remarkable detail.
"It was hard, depressing," says Tanner
Y. Carver, a retired Comdial employee, now 76. He and the others agree
it was the forensic testimony that the blood stains from Katie's
mattress matched the type of blood on the wet clothes and panties
found in Barker's sock drawer that sealed their decision.
Another juror, a nurse who is now 69,
spoke on the condition that her name not be used, citing fear of
Barker, who, she says, was an intimidating presence in the courtroom.
She says his 6'5" height was boosted by cowboy boots, and he showed no
emotion in the courtroom.
Images from news reports at the time
show Barker smoking a cigarette and leaving court neatly groomed in a
powder blue suit and tie, accompanied by his attorneys, Larry McElwain
and Paul Peatross, who later became a Charlottesville District and
Albemarle Circuit Court judge.
McElwain says the week of the trial was
"intense," so much so that Judge Herbert C. Pickford, who presided
over the case, held court on a Saturday.
"The judge wanted to get this done," he
recalls. (Peatross, who retired from the bench this year, did not
return the Hook's calls for comment, nor did the now-retired
The prosecution's description of
Barker's behavior the fateful night may have disturbed jurors.
"It was chilling when they presented the
case and how clever and cunning Barker was in manipulating the
children," says the nurse. "He could walk up the driveway and look in
the window, see the kids there."
Uncontested facts emerged in testimony:
Barker had given Katie and her friend Tammy beer. Tammy testified that
both girls had gotten sick after drinking them, and she said when she
went to bed, she'd last seen Barker reading her eight-year-old brother,
Eddie, a bedtime story-- news reports from the time say it was a
chapter from a book on Civil War ships. Tammy testified that she awoke
from a bad dream at approximately 5:30am and discovered Katie's bed
empty, her friend gone.
Barrick theorized at trial that after
the two girls became intoxicated, Barker carried Katie to the ground
floor rec room and attempted to molest her. Drops of blood matching
Katie's type were found on the rug and around the room's coffee table.
"Something violent went on in the [rec]
room involving Katie," says Barrick. "One would have to also assume
that it involved Barker. What it was or why it happened, we had no
evidence on that at all. You could argue from Barker's standpoint that
she had fallen."
Indeed, Barker has always maintained
that he had nothing to do with Katie's disappearance and that he left
the house sometime after midnight, with all three children safe.
Forensic experts testified that a hair
found in Barker's car was consistent with Katie's hair, and sniffer
dogs identified her scent in his car. Other testimony that supported
the prosecution: Charlottesville Police detective Chip Harding
testified that an "angry" Barker had called the police department
eight days after Katie's disappearance to personally threaten Harding
and act hazy on Worsky.
"Why should I tell?" Harding testified
that Barker said. "I'll wait for the facts, and then I'll remember
them." Harding also testified that when police showed Barker the
mounting evidence against him and asked if he'd harmed Katie, he
responded, "I probably did, but I don't remember."
Harding told the court that Barker was
angry with him because Harding had warned an 18-year-old woman Barker
had been dating that Barker was dangerous. (Harding, now a police
captain running for election for Albemarle County Sheriff, declined
comment for this story.)
Following more than a week of testimony
and jury deliberations, the web of circumstantial evidence between
Barker and Katie Worsky held fast. On July 28, 1983, the jury
convicted Barker of second degree murder and recommended a sentence of
18 years, two years short of the 20-year maximum. They could, however,
have convicted Barker of first degree murder if they'd been convinced
the act had been premeditated. Barrick had described the difference
between the two charges in his closing argument, but he says now that
despite failing to win a first-degree conviction, he was pleased with
"I doubted we had enough to get him on
premeditation," he says. Although McElwain and Peatross eventually
appealed the case to the Virginia Supreme Court, the guilty verdict
The jurors praise Barrick for putting
together such a tight case, but one of them says she has a regret.
"I was sorry that we didn't understand
what Dick Barrick was trying to say to us, that premeditated could
mean only five minutes. If we had understood that, it would have been
first degree," says Alice Wallenborn, a retired nursing professor who
is now 89.
Jurors say that they quickly agreed on
the verdict, but coming up with a sentence was harder. Eventually,
they agreed on 18 years. Virginia law, held a surprise, however.
"We didn't realize at that time that
parole came in any time after nine years," says Carver, who learned
that Barker would be paroled from watching news reports.
"That was very galling to me," agrees
the anonymous juror.
It was galling to someone else as well--
someone with the power to do something.
Ten years after the conviction, George
Allen ran for for governor on a platform with a bold and controversial
plan to eliminate parole. In 1995, a year after he took office, Allen
followed through on his campaign promise by eliminating mandatory
parole, increasing sentences for violent offenders, and establishing "truth-in-sentencing,"
a law that requires that juries be told exactly how much time someone
they convict will serve.
Writing by Blackberry mobile device from
a family vacation in Italy last week, Allen-- an Albemarle County
resident at the time of Katie Worsky's disappearance-- says he thought
about Katie when he pushed those changes through the Virginia General
"The early release of her convicted
murderer was another of many aggravating examples of why I wanted to
abolish the lenient, dishonest parole system," writes Allen, adding, "our
hearts ache for the Worsky family."
Had the changes been in place in 1982,
Barker would have served the entire 18 years, Allen notes. In addition
to abolishing parole, Allen did away with "bifurcated jury trials,"
which in the past prevented juries from learning about defendant's
prior records when they were determining a sentence.
Indeed, the Worsky jury had not heard
about Barker's prior record.
In 1981, Barker was charged in Harnett
County, North Carolina with kidnapping an 18-year-old female, tying
her to a bed, and holding her at knifepoint. While his victim was
restrained, Barker went outside to move her car, and she escaped.
Barker pled guilty to assault.
"It was hard to see that after the fact,"
says the anonymous juror, who says the information made her feel
better about convicting and sentencing in the absence of a body. "Thank
God," she says, "we did as much as we did."
The police and prosecutors who fought
for and won the conviction against Barker have no doubt they got the
right man. But Barker himself has always maintained his innocence.
Speaking by telephone from his home in South River, New Jersey 25
years after Katie's disappearance and 15 years after he completed his
sentence, Barker, now 48, maintains his innocence and claims he was
He says he and Carrie Gates had known
each other for several years. "We started out having a romantic
relationship," he says, "but that didn't work out, so we remained
friends." (Neither Gates nor her daughter, Tammy Thomas, could be
reached for comment.)
The night of Katie's disappearance,
Barker says, he had come over to visit with Gates, but when she told
him she was too tired to drink the beer he'd brought and that she was
going to bed, he planned to leave. Instead, he says, he was beckoned
into the ground floor rec room by the kids.
Tammy and Eddie "were crazy about me,"
he says. "We hung out all the time," and he'd "take them to Chuck E.
Cheese or places like that."
Barker says it was the girls who asked
him to share his beer.
"I know it was wrong, but I was young,
too, and I wasn't going to be the bad guy," he says. He also believed
that Tammy had had alcohol before. "I didn't see the big deal," he
says. He says that he never saw Katie become ill from the alcohol, but
agrees with trial testimony that Tammy did throw up.
"I was holding her hair when she was
throwing up in the toilet," he says. He read Eddie a bedtime story,
and then, when the child fell asleep, "I put my beer bottles back in
the bag. Five minutes after Eddie fell asleep, I was gone."
Barker, who says he is diabetic and has
suffered two strokes and three heart attacks, now says he even
remembers the drive from McElroy Drive back to Georgetown Road. He
took the long route, around "the circle"-- JPA and Emmet Street around
the University-- so he could gaze at coeds. The idea that he would be
sexually interested in a child, he says, doesn't make sense.
"I was dating two other girls when this
happened," he says. "Everyone said I was looking to have sex. There
were two other places I could have went. Why would I want a child?
Especially if I had to use force. I could go get it free with no
problems. I don't understand why people are not thinking."
Barker says the investigation and the
trial were riddled with errors and inconsistencies, starting with the
searches of his apartment. He maintains he doesn't know how the wet,
blood-stained clothing got under his mattress and points out that he
allowed police to come in for the first search-- something he says he
wouldn't have done if he'd had something to hide. He also wonders why
they didn't find the panties on the first search, and why they got a
warrant when he'd already agreed to let them come in. He suspects
police planted the evidence, a charge they deny.
He questions the validity of the blood
on Katie's mattress, and says blood stains were "used up" by
prosecution tests, so the defense was forced to rely on those results
rather than getting independent tests. He also says the use of dogs to
match Katie's scent to his car and to establish his path out of the
house with her was flawed and that the dogs seemed to identify several
different locations and vehicles.
Though Barker strongly denies any
wrongdoing in the Worsky case, he does take responsibility for the
1981 assault in North Carolina, which he believes has been the source
of all his problems.
"I tied her hands behind her back," he
admits. "It was at knifepoint. But I never did anything or said
"It was wrong what I did there," he says.
"I'm not trying to simplify it. It was very traumatic for her."
He says drugs and alcohol had affected
his behavior, and his wife at the time, Lynn, with whom he had a son,
had just left him. "All I wanted," he explains, "was the company."
Robin Worsky visited Barker twice in
prison and begged him to reveal the location of her daughter's body.
"I told him, 'I'll do whatever it takes to help you, if you help me.'
I was just desperate."
Barker maintained his innocence so
convincingly that she began to harbor doubts.
"I'm not saying I think he's innocent,"
she says. "I don't know where the guilt lies. I think, maybe, had he
gotten her drunk, had she fallen and hit her head, that he would have
freaked out. He may have taken care of the problem."
Following those visits, Robin says,
Barker began writing her letters asking her to come back and hoping
she'd befriend his own mother.
"He thought I was the solution to his
problem," says Robin. "I wasn't. I needed a solution to mine."
Asked now about the plight of the
Worskys, who have spent every day of the last 25 years yearning for
answers, Barker says he is sympathetic. "I grieve for their loss," he
And as he told Robin Worsky during her
visits to him, if he knew where Katie was, he insists he would tell.
"I did the time," he explains. "I might as well."
It's no secret that the stress of
parenting can strain a marriage, but the death of a child can be a
fatal blow. Such was the case for the Worskys.
"It contributed to the end of the
marriage," says Robin, as Alan nods. "We just knew we didn't want to
fight, didn't want to argue," she adds. Apart, they have been able to
remain "good friends" even as they dealt with their grief in different
"He wanted to move away from
Charlottesville, to get away from it," says Robin. "I didn't want to
leave because I was still expecting her to come back."
They weren't the only ones struggling.
Katie's older sister, Jamie, says the days, weeks, and years after
Katie's disappearance were brutal-- beginning the morning of Katie's
disappearance, when she heard her parents screaming, "Katie's gone!"
In her sleepy teenage haze, she didn't
understand. "They were trying to get me out of bed; then they were
gone," she says. "They stayed gone for three days, only came home at
During the search and investigation,
Jamie says, she wanted to get away from the chaos and pain, but her
parents pulled her closer.
"I was pissed when I had to be home at a
certain time and everybody else could be home much later," she says.
On one particular occasion, she had gone to Barnaby's Pizza on
Greenbrier Drive when the phone rang at the bustling restaurant. It
was her parents telling her that Glenn Barker had gotten out on bond.
"They were coming to pick me up right then," she remembers.
Even though the disappearance occurred
at the sleep-over, Jamie found that some of her friends were forbidden
by their parents to visit the Worsky house. She rebelled-- drinking,
staying out-- though she won't blame all of it on Katie's
disappearance. "It was what everyone was doing," she says.
When her parents separated the year
after the trial, Jamie says, her relationship with her father was
further strained, in part because he'd become so protective.
"My memory of him is that he was with me
all the time," she says. "I understand that now, being a parent, but I
hated it then. I hated high school. I was miserable."
After the divorce, Jamie stayed with her
mother in Charlottesville, while Alan moved to Roanoke and then New
Jersey with John, the youngest. They returned to Charlottesville
several years later. Jamie married and had children-- at 39, she has a
19-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son-- though she has since also
divorced. John is now the father of two boys, 7 and 6 years old.
Today, Jamie says, her relationship with
her father has been mended. "Being an adult, I have a much better
relationship with my dad." While she doesn't see him as frequently as
she does her mother-- she and Robin live across the street from each
other-- they are now close, she says, and talk on the phone "all the
"I can never imagine losing a child,
ever," says Jamie, who adds that her mother's strength in continuing
with her life despite the hole at its center gave her new respect.
"My mom," she says, "is the strongest
person I know."
The pain, however, never completely
fades for any of them. "Things are still the same," says Jamie. "Katie's
not here; she hasn't been found."
For the living, a lot happens in 25
years. "We've changed," says Jamie. "We've had to. My parents have
gotten older, my brother and I grew up." Katie, however, is still--
and will always be-- 12. A day doesn't go by that Jamie Worsky doesn't
think about her sister. But she says time has robbed her of some
"I don't remember her voice," she says,
choking up. "I try and I try." She looks for signs of Katie in her own
children. "I kind of see her, especially in my son," she says.
if she can't remember all the details, she can remember Katie's
essence: a mischievous, fun-loving-- if sometimes bratty-- little
"She shot me in the rear end with a BB
gun once," Jamie laughs. "She said it wasn't on purpose, but it was.
She aimed right at my ass and got me good." Despite such sibling
rivalry, Jamie says she and Katie-- who shared a room-- had just
started to establish a closer relationship when Katie disappeared.
"I remember the day that she went to
Tammy Thomas' house, I asked her not to go," Jamie says, "to stay and
go to the mall with me and my girlfriends."
Katie is in their thoughts constantly,
but Alan and Robin Worsky say they do not have any family traditions
in which they formally remember her. In fact, there has never been a
memorial service-- private or public. Twenty-five years later, Robin
Worsky's fear that she'd never know exactly what happened has been
"I don't have a death certificate," says
Robin. "I don't have a place to go to visit her." Her grief wells once
more. "I can't have a memorial for her. I think about it, but I can't
do it," she says, weeping at the Pantops coffeeshop. "I know I need to
close it, but I don't know how."
Standing, she enters the coffeeshop for
a glass of water. Alan touches her arm and watches her go, then turns
and gazes out past the table at the sky and the horizon to the west.
"I look at it differently than Robin,"
he says, this time with no hint of his trademark smile as he thinks
about the daughter he has grieved for so long, the little blond girl
he took fishing.
"Her resting place is wherever the Lord
wants her to be," he says, pausing, and gesturing to the mountains and
the clouds drifting across the blue sky.
time we'll know," he says, "but not on this earth."
Katherine Sybil Worsky
The Charley Project
Vital Statistics at Time of
Missing Since: July 12, 1982 from
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age: 12 years old
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair. Worsky
Type B blood. She was small for her age at the time of her
Worsky's nickname is Katie.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A pink t-shirt.
Medical Conditions: Worsky is a diabetic and insulin-dependent.
Details of Disappearance
Worsky was last seen at the home of a
friend, Tammy Gates, in the 2700 block of McElroy Drive in
Charlottesville, Virginia on July 12, 1982. She was spending the night
with her Tammy; her own family lived in an apartment in the Four
Seasons subdivision off Rio Road. Worsky's friend's mother, Carrie
Gates, called Worsky's parents early that morning, thinking the girl
had returned to her own apartment. She had not, however. Worsky's
parents notified police of her disappearance.
Glenn Haslam Barker was one of the
people who volunteered in the effort to search for Worsky. A
photograph of him is posted below this case summary. He had previously
dated Carrie, but their relationship was over by July 1982.
He was employed as a clerk at a gas
station and convenience store which Worsky's father frequently
patronized. Authorities suspected Barker immediately in part due to
his criminal record; he pleaded guilty to assault in 1981 after
admitting to kidnapping teenage female acquaintance and holding her at
knifepoint. Police interrogated him at Worsky's disappearance. He
admitted having seen her on the night she went missing. He stated he
had come by the Gates home after everyone had gone to bed, and had
given Worsky and Tammy one can of beer each. Tammy said she and Worsky
had actually had more alcohol than that, and got sick afterwards.
Afterwards, they went to bed. Barker stated he left at 12:30 a.m.,
after making sure Worsky, Tammy and Tammy's younger brother were
asleep. Tammy woke up at 5:30 a.m. and realized Worsky was missing.
Investigators did not believe Barker's
story and, with his permission, searched his apartment in the Hessian
Hills apartment complex on Georgetown Road. They found wet,
bloodstained men's clothing and towels wedged between his mattress and
box spring. Some of the blood was Type A, Barker's blood type, and
some was Type B. Katie's blood was Type B; authorities discovered this
fact by testing the menstrual blood on her bedsheets. Barker said he
did not know how the clothes had gotten there. Authorities searched
the residence a second time several days later and found a pair of
girls' panties hidden in a rolled-up ball of socks in Barker's dresser.
There was a tiny bloodstain in the back of the panties, consistent
with the location where Worsky injected her insulin.
Barker was arrested and charged with
Katie's murder in January 1983, six months after she went missing.
Prosecutors theorized that after Worsky became intoxicated, Barker
carried her to the living room, attempted to molest her, then killed
her. A few drops of Type B blood were found on the living room rug and
coffee table. Barker maintained his innocence, stating he had had
nothing to do with Worsky's disappearance.
The jury convicted Barker of second-degree
murder and recommended a sentence of 18 years in prison, two years
short of the maximum. They acquitted him of first-degree murder,
meaning they did not believe Worsky's murder was premeditated. He was
only the second person to be convicted of murder in Virginia without
the victim's body. Barker was paroled from prison in 1992. He was
rearrested in 1993 and charged with possession of a firearm after a
pellet gun was found in his car, and served a further six months in
jail before being released again.
Barker's name has been mentioned in
connection with other homicides and missing persons cases and some
theorize he is a serial murderer. He has not been charged with any
deaths besides Worsky's, however. He continues to maintain that he did
not harm Worsky and the only wrongdoing he committed that night was
giving her and Tammy beer when they were underage. Barker stated he
believed he had been framed by the police, and accused them of
planting the bloodstained clothing found in his apartment.
Worsky's parents divorced after Barker's
conviction. Her body has never been located, but foul play is strongly
suspected in her disappearance due to the circumstances involved.