In 1995 Jack Barron moved from being a very
unfortunate man to become a serial killer.
It all started in 1992 when
his wife, Irene, died mysteriously leaving Jack grief stricken.
months later his four year-old son, Jeremy, stopped breathing in his
sleep. Jack claimed it was some genetic link that was killing his family.
Next his daughter, also four, died in her sleep.
Family and friends
could not believe such tragedy could strike again.
Jack packed up and
moved in with his mother. When the poor lady died in her bed,
authorities became a little suspicious. Jack still maintains his
innocence and likes to dwell on his suffering.
Now that he's been
charged with four murders, he might be in for a little more suffering
for the next one hundred years.
Dying fo Daddy
by Carlton Smith
June 1992, hearts went out to Jack Barron when his wife Irene died in
her sleep. Barron was at work when his wife's body was found by a
On Feb. 7, 1993, Jeremy, 4, died. Aug. 7,
1994, Ashley, 4, died. Followed by Barron's mother, Roberta Butler, 52,
in February 1995 whose body was found in her condominium.
They had a stormy relationship, until
Roberta announced she wanted to evict him. Before she could she was
found dead. Barron's former girlfriend, Starla Hayes, told a judge soon
after his wife's death, Barron made a disquieting remark to Jeremy, 3,
for crying about his "Mommy," Jack shouted, "If you don't shut up, I'll
send you to where Mommy is!" She met the defendant in 1990, at a Lucky's
supermarket where they worked.
After his wife died, Barron found himself
with no one to baby-sit his kids. Hayes, a mother of two, 6 and 8, faced
the same problem, she and her husband had separated. She and her two
children moved into Barron's 3-bedroom home several months after Irene's
death. The two agreed to share childcare duties. Hayes said she and
Barron began having sex. The housing arrangement wasn't working. A
couple of months after moving in, Hayes moved out.
Barron was arrested 5 months after the
death of his mother. Barron blames the loss of his family on hereditary
heart disease. The motive for the slayings was Barron's hatred of his
father, who divorced Barron's mother and abandoned him when he was a
teenager. He also wanted out of his marriage and to collect $170,000 in
In Irene's personal effects, was an
undated letter she had written to Barron. "I'm really sorry you're
unhappy right now. We have so much to be happy and thankful for ... It
really upsets me when I hear you talk about divorce."
April 2000, a defiant Jack Barron was
sentenced to 3 consecutive life terms in prison with no parole.
Barron is the first man known to suffer
from Munchausen-by-Proxy, where a person causes illness or death to a
loved one in order to attain sympathy.
Sacramento, CA -- July 20, 1995 --
Jack Barron, 33, the children's father was arrested
for the murders of his wife, Irene and the children. If convicted in two
of the three killings and if one of the convictions is for first-degree
murder he may face the death penalty.
Barron's mother, Roberta Butler was also killed,
however, he has not been charged in her death at this time and
authorities are waiting for a conviction in the first three murders.
All four deaths took place over a 26-month period.
The first to die was Irene who was found dead in her bed with a pillow,
stained with makeup, covering her face. Coroners could not determine the
cause of death.
Eight months later Jeremy was found unconscious in
his bed by a baby-sitter and pronounced dead. Eighteen months later,
Ashley was was also found dead in her bed. Six months later Barron's
mother is also found dead in her bed.
One of the factors being considered as a motive is
that Barron was involved with another woman and he had told someone that
instead of enduring a messy divorce, "I'd do away with her first." The
other woman moved in with Barron, but left about a week before Jeremy's
After Jeremy died, Barron appeared to have developed
a fascination with Wynonna Judd. The country singer sent him backstage
passes after receiving letters entailing the deaths in his family. On
one of those occasions, Barron, wearing a T-shirt reading, "Wy's Guy"
was photographed with Judd and Ashley.
Investigators and others suggest that Barron killed
his wife, and eventually his children, to stay in control. Someone told
police that he had a temper and an estranged relationship with his
father and his way of dealing with problems was to remove the problem.
The easy way out was to kill his wife.
It was also stated that Barron was very
fastidious. When his wife would vacuum, he'd follow behind her and
rub out the carpet tracks. As one of the detectives put it, the
children became the tracks in the carpet, killing the kids was very
much like psychologically rubbing out the tracks in the carpet.
one, there was something suspicious about the death
of Irene Barron, whose body was found in a bedroom
of her Florin-area home in June 1992, authorities
lacking evidence, no suspect was arrested until
more than three years later, after Barron's two
young children and her mother-in-law had also died
one by one, under similar circumstances.
4 1/2 years after he was jailed, Jack Barron,
Irene's husband and father of both children was on
trial for their deaths.
Barron sounded upset when he
telephoned his in-laws on June 8, 1992, from a
neighbor's home in south Sacramento.
"He said, 'You gotta get over
here quick!' " remembered Norma Paget, 78, who took
the call in her Citrus Heights home about 9 a.m.
"Why?" Paget asked, startled. "Why?"
"Irene's dead," Barron said
curtly, hanging up.
Paget and her husband, Jack,
sped to 7724 Southbreeze Drive, where their
daughter, Irene Barron, 34, had just been found
dead on a water bed in the home's master bedroom.
In the months that followed,
Jack and Irene Barron's two children -- Jeremy and
Ashley, both 4 -- also died mysteriously in their
beds at the same address. Then, in February 1995,
Jack Barron's mother, Roberta Butler, 52, was
discovered lifeless in her water bed in Benicia,
Her death prompted an
investigation that led to Jack Barron's arrest.
For Norma and Jack Paget, now of
Grass Valley, the trial they attend on a regular
basis was long overdue. Both expressed "relief"
that it has begun.
"We're getting older. We
couldn't have waited indefinitely," said Jack Paget,
Barron, 38, also is pleased that
he is finally on trial, defense attorney Eluid M.
"He's had to wait all this time
to go to trial," Romero said. "He's happy that it's
under way, so he can present his side of the story."
Irene Paget, described as "a
very sweet woman" by friends and relatives, was the
youngest of four children born to Norma and Jack
Born in Reno, Irene was a
toddler when she and her family relocated to
Germany, a move dictated by Jack Paget's Air Force
career. After 30 months, the family returned to
America, with Paget retiring from the military in
Irene spent her teenage years in
Fallbrook, north of San Diego.
With her blue eyes, light brown
hair and tall body, she captured the title of "Miss
Fallbrook 1974" as a high school senior. Irene
smiled under her glittering crown, a photo shows.
In 1976, Irene married for the
first time, but the union lasted just a few years.
In January 1986, Irene and her best friend, Denise
Eikmeier, moved to Sacramento.
"We decided we needed a bigger
town than Fallbrook," said Eikmeier, 42, now of
Vancouver, Wash. "We packed our cars and moved."
They lived in a friend's
Greenhaven home before moving into their own
apartment. Irene had become an office receptionist,
Eikmeier a secretary.
Irene met Jack Barron, then of
Vallejo, in February 1986 through a mutual friend
acting as a "matchmaker," Eikmeier said.
The couple were married in 1988
in Mount Shasta.
At the reception, attended by 50
guests, Roberta Butler, mother of the tuxedoed
groom, expressed her appreciation to the bride's
"When I was dancing with her,
Roberta told me, 'Thank you for giving me such a
beautiful daughter, something I've always wanted,'
" Jack Paget said.
The Pagets, on the other hand,
did not get along well with the groom, "but my
daughter liked him, so we tried to like him," Norma
In 1989, after living in Mount
Shasta, the newlyweds moved to Sacramento. Jack
worked as a part-time stock clerk in supermarkets,
and eventually they bought the three-bedroom house
on Southbreeze Drive.
"But it was a difficult purchase,"
Jack Paget said. "It wasn't like they walked into a
Realtor's office and said, 'OK, we want to buy this
house.' With Jack's salary, they had to qualify for
some type of special program for low-income home-buyers.
"I think they also got
considerable help from his mother."
To help pay the bills, Irene
opened a day-care service in her house. She took
care of neighborhood kids along with her own.
At times, Denise Eikmeier, who
by then was married to Cliff Call, a private
businessman, helped out by watching Irene's
Both children loved playing with
water, an activity their father disliked because it
got them dirty.
"One day, Jack arrived at our
house and saw Jeremy playing with the water hose in
the back yard," Call said. "Jack got angry. After
that, every time Jeremy and Ashley came over, we
would let them play with the hose. But we would
make sure they were cleaned up before Jack got home."
Jeremy and Ashley often used the
swimming pool at their grandparents' former
apartment in Citrus Heights, Norma Paget said.
"Sometimes Irene would bring
them over and we just kind of held them in the
pool" as the two children splashed in the water.
Jeremy was fascinated by his toy
train. One of his favorite TV shows was "Cops." "He
used to sing the 'Cops' song when the program would
come on," Norma Paget said.
Both children watched cartoons.
Ashley had a collection of Disney movies, including
"The Little Mermaid."
The Pagets also have fond
memories of Roberta Butler.
"Roberta was a lovely person,"
Norma Paget said. "We enjoyed visiting with her a
number of times. Mostly we would see her at Jack
and Irene's home. Roberta was real nice to be
Call testified for the
prosecution. "Jack was scowling at me the whole
time ... because I was testifying against him,"
Call said later.
Like the Pagets, Call and
Eikmeier became increasingly alarmed with the
rising death toll at 7724 Southbreeze Drive.
Despite detectives' strong
belief that Irene Barron and her children had been
murdered, the Sacramento County Coroner's Office
could not immediately pinpoint a cause of death,
listing the cause as "undetermined."
Charges were filed a few months
after Butler's death, when her case was ruled a
homicide by the Solano County coroner.
When the trial began Jan. 18,
prosecutor John O'Mara did not make an opening
statement summary of what the evidence will show.
But he had previously pointed at several motives,
including Barron's alleged desire to get out of his
"We had no inkling that Irene
was having any type of marriage problems," said her
father, Jack Paget. "She kept her problems to
herself, which sometimes isn't a good thing to do."
The non-jury trial, expected to
last roughly another month, is being heard by
Superior Court Judge Michael T. Garcia.
Feb. 8, 2000 --
After the mysterious deaths of Irene Barron and her
son in a south Sacramento home eight months apart,
her only surviving child was tested for heart
disease, a doctor testified.
"We had two people in the family
who had died suddenly in their sleep. We wanted to
see . . . if something weird" had caused their
deaths, Dr. John Gumbelevicius said in Sacramento
Although the May 1993 exams
proved negative for Ashley Barron, then 3, she
later became the third to die in bed at 7724
Southbreeze Drive. Like her brother, Jeremy, she
was 4 when she died.
Gumbelevicius testified at the
trial of Jack Barron, 38, who is being tried on
charges that he suffocated his wife, his two
children and his mother, Roberta Butler, 52, who
was found dead in her Benicia condominium in
February 1995. Butler's death was ruled a homicide
and led to Barron's arrest.
Judge Michael T. Garcia must
decide whether the four were smothered, starting in
June 1992, or whether they died of heart disease or
other natural causes as Barron maintains.
A pediatric cardiologist for
Kaiser-Permanente, Gumbelevicius said Ashley was
referred to him by the Barrons' family pediatrician
in May 1993.
At the time, the Sacramento
County Coroner's Office was baffled by the deaths
of Irene and Jeremy Barron. Detectives strongly
believed they had been murdered, but the coroner
listed the cause as "undetermined."
On May 3, 1993, an
electrocardiogram was performed on Ashley at Morse
Avenue Kaiser, Gumbelevicius said. Overall results
were normal, he added, although he did find a "very
minor abnormality" in the child's heart.
Ashley returned to Kaiser on May
19 for a heart ultrasound.
Again, the results were normal,
As an added step, Gumbelevicius
recommended that Ashley later take home a portable
heart monitor, which would record her heart rhythm
for 24 hours.
The device would have allowed
him "to see what was happening to her heart" while
"Unfortunately, the (subsequent)
appointment was not kept," he said. "We tried four
or five times to get Mr. Barron to come back (with
The non-jury trial, being
prosecuted by John O'Mara, is now in its third week.
Feb. 11, 2000 --
Jack Barron was more interested
in filing his income taxes than he was in mourning
the deaths of four loved ones, his ex-brother-in-law
testified at Barron's murder trial in Sacramento.
In May 1995, after his immediate
family had been mysteriously wiped out, one by one,
Jack Barron "made a couple of phone calls to my
office" concerning his need for tax-preparation
help, said John Paget, a CPA from San Diego County.
The calls were taken by a
secretary, said Paget, brother of Barron's wife,
Irene, one of three people to die in the Barrons'
south Sacramento home.
Upset by Barron's business-as
usual attitude, Paget said, he phoned Barron back.
"Reluctantly, I did talk to Jack,"
Paget said. "I said, 'I want to know why you killed
the closest people in your life?' "
Barron, 38, denied killing
anyone, Paget said.
"I told him, 'I'll see you in
court, you bastard,' " said Paget, who said he
never again assisted Barron with his taxes.
Barron was arrested in July
1995, five months after his mother, Roberta Butler,
52, was found dead in the bedroom of her Benicia
condominium. Her death had been ruled a homicide by
the Solano County coroner.
Originally Barron, a supermarket
stocker, was charged with suffocating his wife in
1992, his son, Jeremy, in 1993 and his daughter,
Ashley, in 1994. Both children were 4. He
subsequently was charged with killing Butler.
Although detectives believed
that Irene Barron and her children had been
murdered, the Sacramento County coroner listed the
cause of death as undetermined. Those cases were
re-examined after the Solano County coroner found
that Butler had been slain.
Barron claims the four died of
Prosecutor John O'Mara has
previously said that Barron wanted to get out of
his marriage, a union that has been described by
friends as troubled.
On the 10th day of the trial,
O'Mara summoned Jim Nord, the court-appointed
administrator of Butler's estate, who said it is
now valued at more than $126,800.
If Barron hadn't been arrested,
he would have been the sole beneficiary of the
estate, including two life insurance policies, Nord
The day's most dramatic
testimony came, however, from Paget, 53, who
described how Barron's personality changed after
At Irene's funeral, Barron
seemed genuinely "grief-stricken," Paget said.
Relatives rallied around the
young husband, trying to console him, he said.
Paget also began sending him $100 a month to help
support the kids, he said.
At Jeremy's funeral, however,
Barron made a startling comment, Paget said.
"He made a comment to the effect
that Jeremy died of a broken heart and he was
better off in heaven with his mother," Paget said,
adding that Barron also seemed emotionless at
Feb. 22, 2000 --
A decade ago, Jack Barron seemed
to embody the American Dream.
The supermarket stocker had
purchased a three-bedroom home in a new south
Sacramento subdivision. He and his wife, Irene, 34,
were raising two toddlers, Jeremy and Ashley.
To neighbors, he projected the
image of a loving father.
"Every weekend, if the weather
was nice, he would be out on his front lawn,
playing with his children," Gayla Parent, 45, said
of Barron, who lived on Southbreeze Drive, across
the street from her.
"From what I saw, he was a very
devoted father. That's why I was shocked when I
heard what happened later."
The 57th and final prosecution
witness testified with the defense set to call its
first of several witnesses. The big question: Will
Barron testify in his own defense?
"No comment," defense attorney
Donald Manning said.
From the outset, Barron has
claimed his relatives died of natural causes linked
to a hereditary disease. One defense witness is
expected to be a medical expert who supports his
Rather than give opening
statements, attorneys for both sides will wait
until closing arguments to explain their respective
theories of what the evidence shows.
But in a pretrial hearing,
prosecutor John O'Mara said the motive in the first
death, his wife's, was in part Barron's desire to
get out of a crumbling marriage.
Before trial, O'Mara pointed to
insurance money as an additional motive, saying
Barron was the beneficiary of life insurance
policies and death benefits totaling more than
$170,000. Two life insurance policies were included
in Butler's $126,800 estate, according to Jim Nord,
court-appointed administrator of her estate.
If he hadn't been arrested,
Barron would have been the sole beneficiary, Nord
testified at trial.
Barron, being held in the county
jail without bail, declined to talk to a reporter
for this story.
Clad in jail clothes and
shackled, Barron has listened intently at trial to
First to testify was his former
neighbor, Christina Hamilton, who found Irene
Barron dead on her water bed, a pillow over her
face, on June 8, 1992. Also testifying were two
baby-sitters. One found Jeremy dead in bed on Feb.
7, 1993; the other found Ashley dead in bed on Aug.
On Feb. 27, 1995, Barron
reported finding his mother dead in her bed.
Also taking the stand were
several pathologists and detectives, who explained
why it took so long to make an arrest in the deaths.
Although detectives believed
Irene Barron and her children had been murdered,
the Sacramento County coroner listed the cause of
death as undetermined. Those cases were re-examined
after the Solano County coroner found that Butler
had been slain.
The challenges of the case were
underlined by O'Mara.
"Asphyxial death by suffocation
or smothering is a very subtle kind of death that
frequently leaves no signs," O'Mara said in a
hearing Dec. 2, 1999. "And when signs are left,
they are subtle, at best."
In that same hearing, O'Mara
characterized Barron as "very controlling."
In a November 1999 pretrial
hearing, Barron's best friend, David Allen
Bednarczyk of Mount Shasta, described him as "very
structured." He said Barron became "frustrated" if
his structure was upset in any way.
Bednarczyk, a Union Pacific
locomotive engineer, said they met about 18 years
earlier through their mutual interest in trains.
Barron was the son of a railroad
worker who divorced his mother when Barron was 13.
Barron, an only child, later lived with his mother,
but remained "angry with his dad because of the
circumstances involving him as a boy," Bednarczyk
said without further elaboration.
"Roberta was very frugal. She
thought Jack was too free with his money," he said.
"She didn't like that he spent a lot of money on
the hobby of the model trains.
"(But) Jack cared for his mom
very much," Bednarczyk said. "It was a very caring,
clingy relationship, where they were the only two
each other had."
Barron worked for Southern
Pacific before he married Irene in 1988. He had met
her the year before, through Bednarczyk's wife,
Patty, who had befriended Irene when both were in
high school in Fallbrook, San Diego County.
Bednarczyk has not testified at
trial. His sworn statements were made part of the
Barron's many miniature trains
and tracks took up an entire room at the family's
home, said his father-in-law, Jack Paget. "Jack had
everything in boxes in that room," Paget said. "I
believe it was his plan to set up the trains in his
garage, but he never did."
Eluid Romero, one of Barron's
attorneys, said his client's interest in trains
continues, and he subscribes to train magazines in
Irene's best friend, Denise
Eikmeier, briefly shared a Citrus Heights house
with Irene and Jack Barron in 1987, before the
couple married. In an interview, she called Barron
"a clean freak" who wanted everything -- from the
dishes to the floor -- as clean as possible.
"And everything had to be in the
right place," she said. "If you came home from work
and put your purse down on the couch, Jack would
have a fit. He would say, 'Put this away! Put this
One prosecution witness was
Janeice Dean, who worked with Barron at a local
supermarket during the period of the first deaths.
Her testimony suggested he may have been
dissatisfied with his marriage.
Dean said she regarded Barron as
"a friend, like all the other guys" working the
night shift. But while he was always friendly and
polite to her, there were times when his banter
became a little too suggestive, Dean said.
Such incidents occurred both
before and after Irene Barron's death, Dean
After his wife's death, Barron
asked Dean if she would like to go to Tahoe with
him for a weekend, she said, but she refused.
Dean said Barron countered her
refusal by assuring her "he wasn't interested in a
relationship. All he wanted was sex."
Feb. 28, 2000 --
Someone in the Jack Barron trial
But as the case continues in
Sacramento Superior Court, the question is: Who?
Barron, accused of suffocating
four relatives over a 32-month period in Sacramento
and Benicia, took the stand in his own defense,
electrifying the courtroom with his version of
For nine hours, he offered
testimony that was markedly different from that of
key prosecution witnesses who testified earlier.
Again and again Barron denied
making incriminating statements that witnesses said
he uttered before and after the deaths of his wife
Irene, 34, his two children, Jeremy and Ashley,
both 4, and his mother, Roberta Butler, 52.
The contrasting testimony was
heard by Judge Michael T. Garcia, who must decide
whether the four died of a hereditary disease, as
Barron maintains, or were suffocated by pillows
held by the defendant, as the prosecution alleges.
To make that decision, Garcia
must first get at the truth.
Barron, who is being held in the
county jail, was visibly sweating by the time he
finished his first day of testimony, in what is now
a 16-day-old trial. At times, he wept and seemingly
gasped for breath. Other times, he seemed on the
verge of tears.
"It was draining on Mr. Barron,"
defense attorney Eluid M. Romero said Thursday. "He
was obviously tired after being on the stand for
six hours the first day. Then he had to come back a
second day, for three more hours.
"It wasn't only tiring but
emotionally draining. He had to relive the facts of
With no witnesses to the alleged
killings, prosecutor John O'Mara has built his case
on circumstantial evidence, including the
defendant's purported comments.
"You can read about people dying
unexpectedly all the time, but four deaths in the
same family within four years?" O'Mara said at
Barron's 1996 preliminary hearing. "All were in
bedclothes, all were last seen alive by Jack Barron."
And all were found dead in their
O'Mara has pointed to Barron's
failing marriage as the triggering factor behind
Simply put, Barron wanted out of
his five-year marriage, O'Mara said.
Barron disputed the charge,
insisting he loves Irene "to this day."
O'Mara also has alleged that
Barron killed his relatives to cash in on insurance.
He presented evidence that
Barron, a supermarket stocker, obtained $15,000 in
insurance from his wife's demise and $13,000 each
from the deaths of the two children, along with
Social Security benefits.
Barron conceded that he
collected the money, but said it was in lesser
amounts than O'Mara said. Barron said much of the
cash went toward funerals.
Barron also stood to gain nearly
$130,000 as the sole beneficiary of his mother's
estate, the prosecution's case showed.
Few of the comments attributed
to Barron were more damaging than one he supposedly
made to his mother's neighbor, Margaret Hawes,
after he reported finding his mother's body in
Butler's Benicia home on Feb. 27, 1995.
"Jack said the bruises on his
mom's face were similar to the bruises on Irene's
face when she died," Hawes testified.
Asked by O'Mara if he had made
such a comment, Barron said, "No."
Barron testified that although
he had "looked" at his mother's face when he found
her lifeless, the situation with his wife's death
Her body was discovered by a
neighbor while Barron was at work. By the time he
got home, the residence had been sealed off by
detectives who didn't allow him inside until her
body, found in a bedroom, had been taken out in a
O'Mara asked Barron whether "the
first chance you had to see Irene's face was days
later at the funeral home," after the mortician had
put extra-heavy makeup on her?
That was correct, Barron said.
Defense attorneys expressed
dismay at Hawes' testimony.
"Jack denies making the
statement," Romero said. "What's interesting is
that the first paramedic to arrive at Mrs. Butler's
house the day she died said he didn't observe any
bruises on the mother.
"And, under cross-examination,
Jack said he didn't see any bruises on his mother (either),"
Romero said. "How could he then say that she had
bruises like Irene?"
Barron, 38, also insisted that
he and his mother got along well during the last
week of her life, when he was living with her in
He contradicted the pretrial
testimony of Carol Moreno, an out-of-state friend
of Butler's who stayed with the mother and son in
the week immediately preceding Butler's death.
Moreno testified there was
tension between Butler and Barron. "The whole time
I was there, I can't remember one time that he was
kind to her, said a kind word, was polite to her,"
Moreno said. "He was surly, belligerent, never
Butler, on the other hand, was
kind toward her son, she said.
Butler also told Moreno that she
was concerned about her son's frittering away the
insurance money he had received, Moreno said.
In fact, Moreno said, Butler had
decided to "confront" her son and ask him to move
out. The mother had planned the confrontation for
Feb. 27, 1995, the day she turned up dead, Moreno
According to her testimony,
Moreno ended her visit on Feb. 25, 1995, when
Butler drove her to the Oakland airport.
Moreno will not testify at the
trial. Instead, her previous sworn statements have
been admitted into the record.
March 18, 2000 --
A Sacramento judge convicted Jack Barron of the
first-degree murders of three relatives, who were
found dead in their beds during a 32-month period.
The supermarket stocker was
acquitted of murdering his daughter, Ashley, 4,
whose 1994 death remains mired in controversy.
Because the suffocations
involved a special circumstance of multiple murder,
Barron, 38, automatically faces life imprisonment
Relatives of the victims sobbed
as Superior Court Judge Michael T. Garcia read the
verdict after two days' deliberation.
15, 2000 --
A defiant Jack Barron was
sentenced Friday to three consecutive life terms in prison with no
parole for suffocating three of his relatives with pillows in a murder
series that began in 1992.
was convicted on "fantasy" evidence, Barron blasted
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael T. Garcia
for "ignoring" defense arguments that his loved
ones died of natural causes.
"I have committed no crimes,"
Barron, 38, told the judge.