Murderpedia



 

Juan Ignacio Blanco

home

last updates

MALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
   

FEMALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

 

 

Mark Orrin BARTON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 12
Date of murders: July 27-29, 1999
Date of birth: April 2, 1955
Victims profile: His wife Leigh Ann Barton, 27; his son, Matthew Barton, 11, and his daughter, Elizabeth Mychelle Barton, 7 / Russell J. Brown, 42 / Dean Delawalla, 62 / Joseph J. Dessert, 60 / Kevin Dial, 38 / Jamshid Havash, 44 / Vadewattee Muralidhara, 44 / Edward Quinn, 58 / Charles Allen Tenenbaum, 48 / Scott Webb, 30
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer - Shooting
Location: Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 

 
 
photo gallery
 
 

 
 

Mark Orrin Barton (1955 July 29, 1999) was a spree killer from Stockbridge, Georgia, who, on July 29, 1999, shot and killed 9 people and injured 13 more.

The shootings occurred at two Atlanta day trading firms, Momentum Securities and the All-Tech Investment Group. It is believed that Barton, a daytrader, was motivated by $105,000 USD in losses over the previous two months. Four hours after the Atlanta shootings, Barton committed suicide at a gas station in Acworth, Georgia. He had been spotted by police and was ordered to stop, but shot himself before the police could reach him.

Following the shootings, police searching Barton's home found that his second wife and two children (Leigh Ann Vandiver Barton, Matthew David Barton (12), and Mychelle Elizabeth Barton(10)) had been murdered by hammer blows before the shooting spree; the children had then been placed in bed, as if sleeping. According to a note Barton left at the scene, his wife was killed July 27, and the children murdered July 28.

Prior to the massacre, Barton had been a suspect in the 1993 beating deaths of his first wife, Debra Spivey, and her mother, Eloise Spivey, in Cherokee County, Alabama. Although he was never charged in either of the crimes - and though the note he left with the bodies of his children and his second wife denied any involvement in the 1993 murders - he is still considered a suspect in those murders by authorities.

Quotes

  • Immediately prior to entering the manager's office at All-Tech, Barton was heard to say, "I hope this doesn't ruin your trading day."

  • "There may be similarities between these deaths and the death of my first wife Debra Spivey. However, I deny killing her and her mother. There is no reason for me to lie now."

Victims

  • Leigh Ann Vandiver Barton, 27, wife of Mark Barton
  • Matthew David Barton, 11, son of Mark Barton
  • Mychelle Elizabeth Barton, 8, daughter of Mark Barton
  • Allen Charles Tenenbaum, 48, daytrader at All-Tech Investment Group
  • Dean Delawalla, 52, daytrader at All-Tech Investment Group
  • Joseph J. Dessert, 60, daytrader at All-Tech Investment Group
  • Jamshid Havash, 45, daytrader at All-Tech Investment Group
  • Vadewattee Muralidhara, 44, took a computer course at All-Tech Investment Group
  • Edward Quinn, 58, daytrader at Momentum Securities
  • Kevin Dial, 38, office manager at Momentum Securities
  • Russell J. Brown, 42, daytrader at Momentum Securities
  • Scott A. Webb, 30, daytrader at Momentum Securities

Wikipedia.org


Marc Orrin Barton

On July 29, 1999, Atlanta "day trader" Mark O. Barton, angry after losing a chunk of money trading on the Internet, pummeled his family to death, then headed to two brokerage offices were he opened fire, killing nine people and wounding 12. Barton, 44, escaped and shot himself to death after a five-hour manhunt when police stopped his van at a gas station.

The bodies of Barton's wife, 27-year-old Leigh Ann, his son, Matthew, 11, and daughter Elizabeth Mychelle, 7, were found at an apartment in Stockbridge, the town 16 miles southeast of Atlanta where Barton lived.

The children's bodies were in their beds, with sheets pulled up to their necks and towels around their heads so only their faces showed. A handwritten note was left on each body and a computer-generated note was left in the living room explaining the reasons for the massacre.

July 29, 1999, 6:38 a.m.

To Whom It May Concern:

Leigh Ann is in the master bedroom closet under a blanket. I killed her on Tuesday night. I killed Matthew and Mychelle Wednesday night.

There may be similarities between these deaths and the death of my first wife, Debra Spivey. However, I deny killing her and her mother. There's no reason for me to lie now. It just seemed like a quiet way to kill and a relatively painless way to die.

There was little pain. All of them were dead in less than five minutes.

I hit them with a hammer in their sleep and then put them face down in a bathtub to make sure they did not wake up in pain. To make sure they were dead. I am so sorry. I wish I didn't. Words cannot tell the agony.

Why did I?

I have been dying since October. I wake up at night so afraid, so terrified that I couldn't be that afraid while awake. It has taken its toll. I have come to hate this life and this system of things. I have come to have no hope.

I killed the children to exchange them for five minutes of pain for a lifetime of pain. I forced myself to do it to keep them from suffering so much later. No mother, no father, no relatives. The fears of the father are transferred to the son. It was from my father to me and from me to my son. He already had it and now to be left alone. I had to take him with me.

I killed Leigh Ann because she was one of the main reasons for my demise as I planned to kill the others. I really wish I hadn't killed her now.

She really couldn't help it and I love her so much anyway.

I know that Jehovah will take care of all of them in the next life. I'm sure the details don't matter. There is no excuse, no good reason. I am sure no one would understand. If they could, I wouldn't want them to. I just write these things to say why.

Please know that I love Leigh Ann, Matthew and Mychelle with all of my heart. If Jehovah is willing, I would like to see all of them again in the resurrection, to have a second chance. I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction.

You should kill me if you can.

Mark O. Barton

Barton, dark-haired and 6-foot-4, was wearing khaki shorts when he walked into the Momentum Securities brokerage at the Two Securities Centre building in the trendy Buckhead section of Atlanta about 3 p.m. With a 9 mm and a .45-caliber handgun in each hand, he allegedly said "I hope this doesn't upset your trading day" before opening fire killing four people.

Then he walked east across Piedmont Road and began shooting in the All-Tech Investment Group, a day-trading firm in the Piedmont Center building where he killed five others.

Not coincidentally, the previous wife and mother-in-law of this chemist turned investor turned mass murderer were bludgeoned to death in 1993 in Cedar Bluff, Alabama. No arrests were made. "He was the No. 1 suspect all the way through and still was," said Richard Igou, district attorney at the time of the killings.


Portrait of a killer

Time Magazine

9 august 1999

The manager and his secretary thought they knew Mark Barton when he walked into the Atlanta office of All-Tech Investment Group last Thursday afternoon. They greeted the day trader by name, and he commiserated with them over the news lighting up every trader's terminal: the Dow's nearly 200-point slide. He seemed to be the old client they were familiar with.

No one knew that Barton was packing two handguns; that on Tuesday he had murdered his wife, on Wednesday his son and daughter; that he had just been at the building across the street, at another brokerage, Momentum Securities, where he had also started off with small talk about the declining stock market before opening fire with a 9-mm Glock and a .45-cal. Colt, killing four people. At All-Tech, the pleasantries were about to end too.

Five shots rang out from the meeting room, and the manager and his assistant were on the floor, seriously wounded. With his Colt in one hand and his Glock in the other, Barton marched onto the main trading floor. Nell Jones, 53, looked up from her computer. "I was the first person who looked into his eyes," she says.

From 10 ft. away, he raised a pistol, pointed at her and fired, missing her forehead by inches and hitting her terminal. He went on firing, was "very calm, very determined," she says. "No feeling." Except for one ghoulish aside, uttered as he departed All-Tech: "I hope this won't ruin your trading day."

Five people would die at All-Tech. And by dusk, Barton, 44, had turned Glock and Colt on himself as police cornered him at a gas station in an Atlanta suburb. By that time, America had seen hours of TV images of panic in Atlanta's streets and of the city's financial center under almost martial rule.

As his victims are mourned, the dead murderer's grim story keeps unfolding, with details of financial folly, maudlin suicide notes, adultery, brutality, suspected fraud, even an earlier set of suspected murders. At a time of increased public anxiety over such shooting sprees, he is a severed Gorgon's head, freezing onlookers with horrific astonishment. Who was Mark Orrin Barton? Why did he go berserk?

Barton speaks through the notes that were found lying on the corpses of his murdered wife Leigh Ann, 27, daughter Mychelle, 8, and son Matthew, 12, shrouded in towels and sheets, only their faces showing.

He wrote in another note, "I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction." But Barton also speaks in a 1995 deposition, obtained by TIME, in which he narrates his life in sober and calculated tones.

Barton was trying to collect the $600,000 in insurance he had taken out on his first wife months before she and her mother were murdered in Alabama in 1993.

The police had considered Barton a suspect, so the insurance company balked, subjecting him to six hours of questioning.

He argued his case by talking about his life, appearing to discuss candidly the rootlessness of his life, the deterioration of his marriage to first wife Debra Spivey and his affair with Leigh Ann Lang.

The only child of parents in the Air Force, Barton worked as a manual laborer and drifted briefly through one college before settling at the University of South Carolina, where he graduated with a chemistry degree in 1979.

That same year, he married Spivey, a fellow student he had met while working as night auditor at a local hotel. After living in Atlanta, where Barton tested cleaning compounds, they moved to Texarkana, Texas. In 1988 he became president of TLC Manufacturing, a company he founded with some friends. He made about $86,000 a year.

Then, in 1990, he had a mysterious parting of ways with his company. "Officially, I was fired," Barton said in his deposition, explaining that it was a way for the company to save face and not scare off suppliers. But after his last day at TLC, someone broke into the offices, stole secret formulas and erased computer files.

Police went to Barton's home and arrested him on a burglary charge. However, according to a report at the time, a detective investigating the case believed the burglary "was not intended for the theft of the product formula but to hide kickbacks, discrepancies in inventory or the possible sale of chemicals for drug activity." The same day a TLC board member called the police to say, without elaboration, that the company had reached an agreement with Barton. The charges were dropped.

Barton moved to Georgia with his wife and, after starting up a firm he compared with a "paper route," he took a job as a salesman for a chemical company. In his new position, he got to know a young receptionist named Leigh Ann Lang. She was married at the time, but apparently not happily. "She liked older guys," Barton said. "She made that known to everybody."

By May 1993, Barton and Lang were having an affair. He bought a new wardrobe and began keeping up a tan. Debra grew suspicious. "The key to the whole thing was I started going to the tanning bed, and she didn't like that," he said. She was jealous, he added, "all throughout the relationship...because I was in outside sales. She found her own dog's hair on me one time...and she asked me if it was another lady's hair... I just denied it."

At the same time, Barton took out the life-insurance policy on Debra. He had wanted to take out $1 million, couldn't afford the premiums and settled for $600,000. It was her idea, he rationalized to the insurer. Debra had enjoyed being the wife of a company president. "She felt as time went on that she was just as important as I was ... And she developed an extreme sense of self-worth."

In June 1993, Barton and Leigh Ann took a trip to Charlotte, N.C., where they had dinner with friends of hers. Over dinner, Barton said he had never loved anyone more than Leigh Ann, and that he would be free to marry her by Oct. 1. At the end of August, Leigh Ann was ready to end her own marriage. She found an apartment and moved in with her sister.

A few days later, Debra Barton went to Alabama to spend Labor Day weekend with her mother in a lakeside trailer. Barton stayed home with their children Mychelle and Matthew--or at least that was what he told the authorities. By the end of the weekend, the bodies of Debra Barton and her mother Eloise Spivey were found in a trailer, hacked to death by an axlike tool that police never recovered.

Less than an hour after his wife's funeral, police showed up at Barton's home looking for evidence. He played a cat-and-mouse game with the investigators, who searched his possessions and sprayed the house with Luminol, a chemical that causes blood to glow in the dark. Although he was a chemist, Barton claimed never to have heard of it but then added, "I had seen it on one episode of Columbo."

The police got a positive reaction in Barton's car, on the ignition switch and a seat belt. Barton had no explanation for why there might be blood there, but he did have a challenge for them: "If there is a ton of blood in my car, why aren't you arresting me?" He said, "Well, now, why am I not in handcuffs?" The police admitted there was not enough blood evident to require an arrest.

Barton later made a trip to Alabama to offer a reason for the blood in his car. It had occurred to him, he told police there, that he had cut his finger to the bone during the summer before his wife's murder. If there was any blood in the car, he insisted, it was his own. But Barton refused to give blood or saliva samples for DNA testing or take a lie-detector test.

In the end, the authorities had strong feelings Barton was guilty, but there were no witnesses to place him at the campground, no fingerprints and only inconclusive forensic evidence. Before they could retest the blood traces in his car, Barton claimed to have spilled a soft drink on them, destroying the evidence.

Within a week of Debra's death, Leigh Ann was spending nights at the house with Barton and his kids. The month after Debra's murder, Leigh Ann's divorce was final, and six months later, the two moved in together. By then Barton was living in Morrow, Ga., where neighbors knew nothing about his first wife's murder--until last week.

His second marriage, however, gave little promise of a happily-ever-after life. Leigh Ann would often pick up and leave, and neighbors would gossip about problems at home. There had been family trouble in February 1994, when Mychelle, then 2 1/2, told a day-care worker that her father had sexually molested her.

During the mental evaluations that followed, a psychologist said Barton "certainly was capable" of committing homicide. However, given Mychelle's age, it was difficult for state attorneys to build a solid case around her against Barton or prevent him from keeping custody of the kids. "It was disturbing enough to have a trained psychologist and competent prosecutors reporting these things back to us back then," says David McDade, the Douglas County district attorney who has reviewed the 1994 custody hearing. "It's absolutely chilling to think about it now."

Then, in 1997, the insurance company decided to settle for $450,000, figuring a jury would have sympathized with the plight of Barton's kids if the case went to court. The company stipulated, however, that $150,000 go into a trust for Mychelle and Matthew. With the insurance windfall, Barton soon allowed himself to be swept into the risk-loving fraternity of day traders who try to make a living hunched over a computer terminal, betting on the daily gyrations of individual stocks (see accompanying story). By this year Barton was a full-time day trader. But things turned bad this summer.

Barton had lost about $105,000 since June, almost all of it on volatile Internet stocks, according to Momentum Securities, where he traded most recently. Some reports said his account there had been closed on Tuesday after he was unable to meet a margin call--a brokerage firm's demand that a customer put up cash to cover a debt caused by falling stock prices.

To reopen the account, he reportedly wrote a check for $50,000; it bounced, and he was denied trading privileges Wednesday and Thursday. Momentum was his first stop when he began his shooting spree on Thursday. All-Tech says Barton was a customer but had not traded with the company for months. The company is not divulging his trading records, but according to some accounts, Barton's total stock-market losses in the past year may have been as much as $300,000.

The words of Barton's suicide notes present some tantalizing enigmas. There is anger at the "people who greedily sought my destruction." Was this the world of the day traders? Then there is blame, regret and denial about his family. "I killed Leigh Ann because she was one of the main reasons for my demise ... She really couldn't help it, and I love her so much anyway." She was bludgeoned to death, her body hidden from the children in a closet. Mychelle ("my sweetheart") and Matthew ("my buddy"), he insisted, died "with little pain." He bashed their heads with a hammer while they slept, then held them underwater in a bathtub to ensure they were dead.

He placed a teddy bear on Mychelle's body, a video game on Matthew's. "There may be similarities between these deaths and the death of my first wife, Debra Spivey," he wrote. "However, I deny killing her and her mother. There is no reason for me to lie now."

He scatters clues but no answers. He wrote: "I have been dying since October. I wake up at night so afraid, so terrified that I couldn't be that afraid while awake it has taken its toll. I have come to hate this life and this system of things. I have come to have no hope ... The fears of the father are transferred to the son. It was from my father to me and from me to my son... I'm sure the details don't matter. There is no excuse, no good reason I am sure no one will understand. If they could I wouldn't want them to... You should kill me if you can." He took care of that himself, but not before arming himself with 200 rounds of ammo and a small collection of guns--a couple of which he had owned for years--and taking nine more people with him.

On Thursday night, eight-year-old Tiffany DeFreese sat alone on the sloping grass, bare feet poking beneath the yellow police tape, eyes on an open door 150 ft. away. "I'm just trying to get a sneak peek in so I can see my best friend," she says of Mychelle. "I just saw them take a bag out. It was a big bag. It must have been the mother."

"I wish it hadn't happened. I'm mad cause now I can't go to Girl Scouts with her," Tiffany says. "She would whisper things to me when I really needed help with things." She pauses. "I'm probably going to buy some flowers," she says. "I wish they would give me something of hers--one of her toys or something." She continues: "I wish she wasn't even there. I wish she was spending the night with us. It's so stupid." She wonders, "Maybe I could take her cat. Is the cat dead too?"


Trader's rampage kills 12

The Edmonton Sun

30 July 1999

A "day trader" apparently upset over stock losses opened fire yesterday in two brokerage offices, killing nine people and wounding 12. He killed himself five hours later when police stopped his van at a gas station.

The suicide of 44-year-old Mark Orrin Barton brought the death toll from his rampage to 13 - himself, the office workers and his wife and two children, who were found bludgeoned to death in their suburban home during the manhunt.


'Something's weird about this man'

The Toronto Sun

30 July 1999

Mark Orrin Barton, the 44-year-old day trader at the centre of yesterday's bloody rampage, was described by neighbours in the suburb of Morrow as a quiet, church-going man who worked a lot on his computer.

Barton, who had split up with his wife earlier this year, had been living with his two children from a previous marriage in Morrow.


13 dead in Atlanta rampage

Man kills estranged wife, 2 kids, shoots 21 in offices

The Toronto Sun

30 July 1999

A middle-aged man in shorts, described as irate over stock market losses, opened fire in two brokerage offices yesterday, killing nine people and wounding 12 before fleeing.

The horror deepened when police revealed that shortly before the mid-afternoon slaughter they found the gunman's estranged wife and two children beaten to death in their suburban apartment.


Bloodied history

The Calgary Sun

30 July 1999

Bill Spivey of Lithia Springs, Ga., feared the worst seven months ago when Alabama authorities, without explanation, told him to meet them immediately at a campground on Lake Weiss in northeastern Alabama.

When he arrived, his wife, Eloise Powell Spivey, 59, and daughter, Debra Spivey Barton, 36, lay dead in their camper, blood spattered across a bathroom mirror and on the floor. They had been hacked to death with a sharp, heavy blade.


Atlanta killer 'lost $105,000'

BBC

3 July 1999

A man, who killed nine people in a bloody shooting spree at two Atlanta brokerages, had reportedly lost $105,000 on the stock market. Momentum Securities said Mark Barton had posted the loss during 15 days of trading at its Atlanta office.

A spokeswoman for the All-Tech said "did not know what precipitated this rampage. We understand that he had marital difficulties and that he was going through a divorce,". Momentum said Barton had lost around $105,000 while trading on its computer system between 9 June and 27 July.

But it said the chemist-turned-trader had enough money to cover his losses. The company said Barton was worth $750,000 with $250,000 in liquid assets.


Father confessor

Killer's suicide note says he killed his family to spare them from 'a lifetime of pain'

The Edmonton Sun

31 July 1999

A man killed his wife and then brutally bludgeoned his two children to death to save them from a "lifetime of pain" before embarking on a murder rampage that left nine people dead and ended with his own suicide, police said yesterday.

In a neatly typed letter left in his suburban Atlanta home, murderer Mark Barton said he bludgeoned his family to death with a hammer. Police said the 11-year-old boy and the seven-year-old girl were wrapped in blankets, lying on their beds with toys placed around them.


Killer's kids kept wife in his life despite fear: sister

The Edmonton Sun

1 August 1999

Mark Barton's first victim in a murderous rampage last week - his wife, Leigh Ann - had worried for her safety but loved Barton's children and wanted to continue to be involved in their lives, her sister said yesterday.

"I'm sorry it happened to my sister, but I'm not surprised," said Dana Reeves, Leigh Ann Barton's older sister. "I've felt that this has been coming for a couple of years."


Victims loaned $$$ to Atlanta gunman

Philadelphia Daily News

6 August 1999

Some of the people day trader Mark O. Barton shot had lent him money to cover losses, and police said yesterday he was deliberate with his shots - at times he fired from point-blank range.

Detective Steve Walden said it wasn't clear whether Barton had specific people in mind when he entered two brokerages last week and killed nine people and wounded 13, hours before killing himself.


Atlanta killer lost $450,000 gambling on Internet stocks

The Miami Herald

6 August 1999

Last Christmas, Mark O. Barton sat down with his estranged wife and confessed to huge financial losses as a day trader in the stock market.

"I lost it all. I need help,'' he told Leigh Ann Barton, one of the 12 people whom he would kill last week in a bloody rampage that spanned three days, from Stockbridge to the office suites of Buckhead, ending in his suicide in Acworth.


13 die in gunman's rampage

"Have a nice day" the gunman said, as he opened fire on workers in two broking firms.

ATLANTA - A gunman stormed two brokerages in Atlanta's financial district yesterday, fatally shooting nine people after apparently killing his wife and two children in the days leading up to the attack.

Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell said Mark Barton, aged 44, a day trader who invested other people's money, committed suicide five hours after the shooting spree at brokerages All-Tech Investments and Momentum Securities, located near each other on Atlanta's bustling Piedmont Ave.

Witnesses said that Barton was apparently unhappy over stock and bond market losses when he walked into the first brokerage and produced a pair of 9mm and a .45-calibre handguns and opened fire killing five. "I hope this doesn't ruin your trading day," he said before he opened fire, claimed one witness.

"He was apparently a day trader at a brokerage firm and was concerned about financial losses," the mayor said.

"He was there, noticed the market was down and pulled out a gun and began shooting."

When the rampage ended, four people were dead in a brokerage office at Piedmont Center and five at the second brokerage, Campbell said. Twelve other people were shot and wounded.

Barton's driver's license said he lived in Morrow, Georgia, but when police arrived there, neighbours told them he had moved to Stockbridge, about 56km south of Atlanta. Police in Stockbridge went to his new address and found a grisly scene - the bodies of Barton's wife and children.

Inside the home, according to Henry County police chief Jimmy Mercer, police found four notes signed by Barton.

One note was left in the living room, one on top of his wife's body, which was stuffed in a closet, and one on top of each of the children, a 7-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, who were wrapped in blankets and placed on their beds with some of their toys nearby.

The notes indicated Barton bludgeoned his wife and children to death in the previous two days.

Five years ago, Barton was considered a suspect in the death of his first wife and his mother-in-law but was never charged with their murders.

The two women were bludgeoned to death at a campsite in Alabama. Barton, who had taken out a $US600,000 ($NZ1,147,000) insurance policy on his 35-year-old first wife just weeks before, said he was in Atlanta at the time.

Immediately after the shootings police SWAT teams began a massive manhunt, searching neighbouring buildings floor by floor but quickly spreading beyond the city limits. Barton was eventually pulled over in his van five hours later. He used one of the weapons to kill himself as police closed in on him at a petrol station in Austell, Georgia, about 16km east of Atlanta.

Office workers outside the building praised the action of police, saying they were evacuated within 10 minutes.


Day of terror follows grisly events

Before he killed his wife with a hammer . . . Before he murdered his sleeping children . . . Before he went on a shooting spree that killed nine people and left 12 injured . . . Mark O. Barton put on a Scout uniform to take his son to a troop meeting.

It was Tuesday afternoon at the Bristol Green apartments in Stockbridge, and Travis Holmes, 14, saw Barton and his son and struck up a conversation with them. Travis is a Scout, so everyone had something in common. They talked about merit badges. They talked about camp.

Travis saw no signs that Barton was about to take the first steps on a terrifying journey that would devastate families, challenge a city's sense of security and rivet the nation with its intimate brutality and horrific randomness.

But another person who saw him Tuesday noticed that something was wrong.

'Something's weird'

"Something's weird about this man," Marsha Jean DeFreese remembers thinking when Barton, a troop leader, came to pick up her grandson, who was friends with Barton's son.

Mrs. DeFreese had lived near the family last year in the Atlanta suburb of Morrow, before Barton split with his second wife, Leigh Ann. Mrs. Barton had moved Matthew and his 7-year-old sister Elizabeth Mychelle to a Stockbridge apartment.

Sometimes, Mrs. DeFreese recalled, Barton would not return with the boys until 11 p.m., which she thought was strange. She chalked it up to their closeness.

There was no way for Travis to know on Tuesday afternoon that he was chatting with a man who, by his own admission, was consumed with hatred. Or that Mark Barton would cause so much anguish and grief in the next three days, Barton's last three days on earth.

Hours after the ordinary conversation about Scouts, however, Barton killed his wife with a hammer and stuffed her body in a bedroom closet. The next morning and afternoon, Barton stayed in the apartment with his 11-year-old son, Matthew, and his daughter, 8-year-old Mychelle, said Capt. Jim Simmons of the Henry County Police Department. On Wednesday night, Barton smashed the hammer into his children and then held them down in a bathtub to make sure they were dead.

Authorities said he tidied up, put the kids back in bed and tucked them in. They said he left a video game on Matthew's body and a stuffed toy on Mychelle's body. Now he was alone in an apartment with three bodies. He booted up a home computer and started typing a note . He addressed it "To Whom It May Concern" and dated it Thursday, July 29, at 6:38 a.m.

"I don't plan to live very much longer," he said, "just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction."

Day at the office

About eight hours later, just before 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Barton strolled into the offices of Momentum Securities Inc., a day trading firm on the third floor of a Buckhead office building. It's a place where people sit in front of computers to gamble on the stock market, hoping for instant gains.

He had traded many times in this office and was known to the people who worked there.

They exchanged pleasantries. Barton told them he wanted to make a few transactions.

He chatted for a minute or two longer.

Police later said he made a chilling remark: "It's a bad trading day, and it's about to get worse."

Suddenly Barton whipped out two pistols.

"He then shot both guns at the same time," Atlanta Police Chief Beverly Harvard said Friday afternoon.

Calls for help

Police got the first call about the gunfire at Momentum's third floor office at 2:56 p.m. A woman told 911 dispatchers that a man had come into the office and shot people. Two minutes later, at 2:58 p.m., a man sounding more urgent told police four people were dead at Momentum.

The first Atlanta police officer arrived at the office at 3 p.m., Harvard said. Blood was everywhere. A thick trail snaked around the third floor hallway.

"He was immediately told that four people were dead and he went up to Suite 310," Harvard said. "He called for backup and other officers arrived within seconds."

As the officers began canvassing the office, stepping carefully over the victims, they heard voices coming from a smaller room just a few feet from where the slain victims lay.

"The officers found several people huddled in the smaller room, they had gone in there to hide," Harvard said. "One of the people had thrown a computer out the window to attract the attention of someone on the street.

"One of the women in the room shouted out, 'Mark Barton shot us!' "

While the cops began combing through the other offices on the third floor, another officer circled his motorcycle on Piedmont Road below. Suddenly shots rang out at a complex of other office buildings across the street - the Piedmont Center at 3525 Piedmont.

It was 3:07 p.m.

More shootings

Other officers arrived and were told the shots were coming from Suite 215 in Building Eight of the Piedmont Center, an office complex made up of 11 buildings. A security guard from Barton Protective Services, Inc., - the company is not related to Barton - told officers he heard several shots.

The officers went inside and saw five people slumped over their computer terminals. Several others were hurt.

Overwhelming scene

It was 3:15 p.m. Barton was nowhere in sight and the officers began their thorough search for the shooter throughout Piedmont Center. Ambulances flooded Piedmont Road.

Even the seasoned paramedics who patrol Atlanta's toughest neighborhoods said they'd never seen anything like the carnage at two Buckhead offices where nine were slain Thursday.

Dispatchers had alerted medical personnel to expect several victims, both dead and wounded. But paramedics said what they found was far worse than what they had imagined.

"We see shootings all the time, they almost seem routine," said Reginald McCoy, a paramedic with Grady Hospital. "But I've never seen anything like that . . . the volume. It was utter chaos."

Meanwhile, 20 miles south of downtown Atlanta, Miles South, the manager of the Bristol Green apartment complex in Stockbridge was thinking about the quiet apartment unit in building 1300.

The rent was late, and he wondered what was up.

He called Henry County Police at 3:23 p.m., less than 30 minutes after the shooting started in Atlanta, and let an officer in.

More bodies found

After seeing one body, the officer called for backup.

Both Matthew and Elizabeth Mychelle were dead, apparently from blows to the head. They lay in their beds, all but their faces covered. A handwritten note rested by each child's body.

Their stepmother also was dead, stuffed in a closet and similarly covered, with another scribbled note. In the living room was a longer letter, this one apparently typed out on the computer Barton so loved.

Barton, meanwhile, was across the city.

Workers observe suspect

About 3:30 p.m., Lori Woodward and a handful of employees at the Ivy Place Building at 3423 Piedmont Road spotted a man wearing a red shirt and khaki pants running south on Piedmont Road toward the Buckhead Loop intersection. Woodard and her colleagues had learned from radio and TV news that police were looking for a shooter wearing those clothes.

"We had no idea he had just shot the people at Piedmont Center," Woodard said. "We watched him because he looked strange, He was carrying, like, a knapsack on his back and he was acting nervous."

Woodard said the man ran along the Buckhead Loop in the direction of Phipps Plaza on Lenox Road. He stopped short, however, when he spotted an Atlanta police cruiser rolling his way, Woodard said.

"At that point he looked around and then walked up the driveway of a building that's under construction," Woodard said. "He kept looking around and looking over his shoulder. He noticed two more officers at the top of the driveway, he turned around walked back to the street and then ran into a patch of woods. We never saw him after that."

Search begins

For hours, officers with shotguns searched the parking decks at Piedmont Center and several office buildings. Employees remained locked in their offices because officers did not know whether the killer was still around. Police dogs sniffed the bushes. And FBI agents dressed for war searched the area along Piedmont Road.

Four hours passed before authorities heard from someone who had seen Barton. Security officers at the Town Center Mall in Kennesaw, about 20 miles from Buckhead, saw Barton's unoccupied van in the mall lot about 7:40 p.m. About the same time, a woman who'd been shopping at Rich's approached her parked car. Barton walked toward her. He had a black bag that hung over the shoulder of his neatly pressed blue short-sleeve shirt.

"Don't scream or I'll shoot you," he said, according to a police report.

The woman backed away.

"Don't run or I'll shoot you," he said.

She ran. He did not shoot.

Suspect sighting reported

Mannon Smith, who was also at the mall, said she saw Barton in the parking lot and recognized him as the suspect in the deadliest mass murder in Georgia history.

"It was this totally, totally freakish thing," Smith said. "I was absolutely positive it was him. I was shocked. You pull up behind a car and here was this guy everyone is looking for. Nobody expected him in Kennesaw."

At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, Barton loomed large in the minivan, Smith said.

She pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911. Operators at first were skeptical, but eventually believed Smith when she described the van and read off the license plate.

"I didn't want him looking back and seeing me on the phone reporting him," Smith said. "I really wanted to get off the phone."

Smith said she briefly followed Barton until he turned onto Barrett Parkway. He turned right toward I-75. She turned left.

Smith said she thought briefly about tailing Barton but quickly decided to leave that up to the professionals.

"He had just killed 12 people," Smith said.

Meanwhile, mall officials had alerted police. Officers all over the northern part of Cobb County were looking for the minivan.

Cobb County Police Officer Huel Clements was on I-75 when he saw a minivan matching the description of Barton's minivan. He relayed the tag number by radio to a dispatcher. The dispatcher confirmed his suspicion: It was Barton's minivan. He followed Barton, keeping a safe distance at first so as not to tip off Barton that he was being followed. He also told fellow officers by radio what he had discovered.

End of the chase

About 7:50 p.m., as the day continued its slow summer surrender to evening, Barton turned off the interstate onto Ga. 92 in Acworth.

"My main concern was keeping surveillance and waiting for backup," Clements said Friday, still wearing the black stripe across his badge to honor the two Cobb officers who were killed in the line of duty last weekend.

Barton passed a service station on his left and turned right just past a McDonald's restaurant. Then he turned left and eased into a BP gasoline station. Clements, still behind Barton, turned on his blue lights. Then his siren sounded for a second or two.

Dane Pritchett, 14, saw what happened next. She was in the backseat of a car in the McDonald's parking lot, waiting for her brother and his girlfriend to bring her food. She said Barton slowed at the gas pumps, as if he were going to stop, but then pulled up about 35 feet to a spot between the pumps and a car wash.

Suddenly an Acworth police cruiser whipped into the gas station parking lot and stopped in front of the minivan. Clements, behind Barton's minivan, leapt out of his car, drew his gun and crouched behind the door of his patrol car. Pritchett said he trained his gun on the minivan and shouted at its driver.

"He was yelling 'Get out! Get out!' " Pritchett said.

Within seconds, Cpl. Curtis Endicott of the Acworth Police Department had whipped his patrol car into the BP parking lot to block a possible escape route.

"A lot's going through your mind when you have a suspect of this magnitude. I was scared," Endicott said. "I didn't know what he might do."

As Endicott threw open the door of his police car, Barton raised a 9 mm pistol to one side of his head and a .45-caliber pistol to the other.

"We heard a muffled sound," Pritchett said, "and his head fell against the steering wheel."

It was about 7:55 p.m.

Several of the six Acworth police officers on duty had arrived by this time. They bounded out of their patrol cars and pointed their guns at the van. One of the officers walked tensely toward the driver's side door.

"He walked over and with one hand slung the door open and then backed off," Pritchett said. "I guess he saw blood or something."

Jim Fowler, the clerk at the Amoco service station across the street, said he could tell the danger had passed by watching the officers. "They all just started holstering their guns," he said.


Portrait of a killer

On a tree-lined street in a southern Atlanta suburb, 44-year-old Mark Barton spent the better part of the last decade living what some describe as a perfect life. He'd been living there with his second wife, Leigh Anne, 27, and the children from his first marriage, Matthew, 11, and Mychelle Elizabeth, 7, until they left him.

Now, authorities say he killed all three in their apartment while they slept. Tynese Bryant was Barton's next door neighbor. Her son Melvin used to baby-sit for Matthew and Michelle, and she may have known the family better than most. She paints a poetic picture of man who loved his children, was deeply involved with their lives and was always first to say hello.

"He was a really friendly guy, always saying something funny, he was always joking all the time," Bryant says.

When Mark O. Barton walked into a Buckhead stock brokerage office Thursday afternoon, he wore the same genial countenance he displayed even in his driver's license photos: a warm smile across a round face topped by a shock of dark curly hair - hardly the look of a killer.

"He greeted people on the way in," Harvey Hautkin, a spokesman for All-Tech Investment Services, said later. And, Hautkin said, as he began blasting away with two handguns, Barton told his victims, "I hope I'm not upsetting your trading day."

Such incongruity clouded the portrait that emerged late Thursday of the 44-year-old Barton, apparently one of Georgia's worst mass murderers, a man who drove a green minivan.

"We have no information at all" on what set off the killing spree, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell said late Thursday, "except we're certain Mr. Barton came to Piedmont Road and killed nine people."

Barton was known to police before he began his killing spree in Atlanta on Thursday. In 1993, Barton was the prime suspect, although never officially charged with the murder of his first wife and mother-in-law,  but Alabama authorities said Thursday he had been under suspicion the entire time. Debra Spivey Barton, 36, and her mother, Eloise, 59, both of Lithia Springs, Georgia, were found in their camper van on 5 September 1993.

"He was the No. 1 suspect all the way through and still was," said Richard Igou, district attorney in Cedar Bluff, Ala., at the time of the killings. The current district attorney, Mike O'Dell, said investigators had monitored Barton's whereabouts for almost six years. "There was no precursors to think this might happen," O'Dell said. "It was a shock."

They were spending the Labour Day weekend at a lake in north-east Alabama. The two women were found hacked to death with a sharp, heavy blade at the Riverside Campground in northeast Alabama. The camper in which they were staying showed no signs of a forced entry, leading detectives to the conclusion that the murderer was known to the pair.

"He was the Number 1 suspect all the way through and still is," said Richard Igou, district attorney at the time of the killings.

Barton's father-in-law, Bill Spivey, said at the time: "Until the murders, Mark was the perfect son-in-law," adding, "since then, we have cooled tremendously toward each other."

Immediately after the murders, Barton's former father-in-law accused him of the crime. That same accuser said Thursday the killings in Henry County and Buckhead completed what Barton had started six years ago.

"If what I've heard is true, the man has destroyed nearly my whole family," said Bill Spivey of Lithia Springs, whose wife, Eloise, then 59, and his 36-year-old daughter, Debra, were killed at Lake Weiss in northeast Alabama. "The man who it appears killed my wife and daughter also killed my two grandchildren."

After the 1993 killings, a judge in Douglas County, where Barton lived at the time, ordered him to get a psychological evaluation as part of a custody case involving his two young children.

The results "to this day make me shudder," said David McDade, the Douglas County district attorney, who has reviewed the case. "They indicated to us that he was certainly capable" of committing the murders.

In a brief interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1994, Barton - who won custody of the children, Matthew and Michelle - declined to comment.

His lawyer, Michael Hauptman, told WSB on Thursday that Barton recently won a $600,000 settlement from an insurance company that had refused to pay the claim from his wife's life insurance policy.

Hauptman described Barton as "very, very quiet" and "very gentle," a man who "cared about his children, cared, quite frankly, about his wife's murder and his mother-in-law."

Aside from his first wife's death, nothing in Barton's background seems to point toward the extreme violence that characterized his final hours.

Barton was born in Sumter, S.C., in 1955. Answering the phone Thursday night in the house where Barton grew up, his 79-year-old mother, Gladys Barton, declined to comment.

"I'm not talking to reporters - none," she said. "I'm not giving any information."

Barton and his first wife moved back and forth from Georgia to Texas several times in the late 1980s and early 1990s, according to public records, and moved into her family's home in Lithia Springs in 1991.

In 1990, Barton formed a corporation in Georgia, Highlander Pride Inc., but records give no indication of what kind of business he ran.

William Friend, the lawyer who helped him incorporate the company, could recall little about Barton but was shocked to learn a former client had gone on a killing spree.

"My God - nine people?" Friend said.

Barton worked as a chemist, but a few years ago he joined the high-pressure, high-stakes world of day trading.

At All-Tech, the company where the Atlanta killing began Thursday, clients must maintain at least a $40,000 balance.

At least twice, Barton apparently lost the full value of his account at All-Tech, according to a trader there who requested anonymity.

"Mark would trade several thousand shares at a time," the trader said. But he added that Barton had been barred from further trading by All-Tech until he could restore his account to the minimum value.

He said Barton had not been in the Piedmont Road office for at least a month.

Hautkin, the All-Tech spokesman at the company's headquarters in New Jersey, said Barton - who apparently also handled investments for others - had not traded in three months.

On May 26, 1995, less than two years after his first wife's death, Barton married Leigh Ann Vandiver, then 23, in Clayton County. Vandiver had divorced her first husband, David K. Lang, in October 1993, a month after Debra Barton's death, according to state vital statistics records.

Spivey, Barton's former father-in-law, said Barton and Vandiver had carried on an affair before his daughter and wife were killed.

Records show that Barton and his second wife lived in Morrow in Clayton County until June, when they moved into the apartment in Stockbridge. There, authorities said Thursday, Barton apparently killed her and his children before the rampage in Atlanta.


Mark Barton's suicide notes

The texts of four notes found in Mark O. Barton's apartment along with the bodies of his wife, son and daughter, as released by Henry County, Ga., police. The first note, found in the living room, was generated on a computer on Barton's personal stationery. The others, found on each of the three bodies, were handwritten. Barton had placed a stuffed toy on his 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Mychelle, and set a video game atop the body of his son Matthew, 11.

July 29, 1999, 6:38 a.m.

To Whom It May Concern:

Leigh Ann is in the master bedroom closet under a blanket. I killed her on Tuesday night. I killed Matthew and Mychelle Wednesday night.

There may be similarities between these deaths and the death of my first wife, Debra Spivey. However, I deny killing her and her mother. There's no reason for me to lie now. It just seemed like a quiet way to kill and a relatively painless way to die.

There was little pain. All of them were dead in less than five minutes. I hit them with a hammer in their sleep and then put them face down in a bathtub to make sure they did not wake up in pain. To make sure they were dead. I am so sorry. I wish I didn't. Words cannot tell the agony. Why did I?

I have been dying since October. I wake up at night so afraid, so terrified that I couldn't be that afraid while awake. It has taken its toll. I have come to hate this life and this system of things. I have come to have no hope.

I killed the children to exchange them for five minutes of pain for a lifetime of pain. I forced myself to do it to keep them from suffering so much later. No mother, no father, no relatives. The fears of the father are transferred to the son. It was from my father to me and from me to my son. He already had it and now to be left alone. I had to take him with me.

I killed Leigh Ann because she was one of the main reasons for my demise as I planned to kill the others. I really wish I hadn't killed her now. She really couldn't help it and I love her so much anyway.

I know that Jehovah will take care of all of them in the next life. I'm sure the details don't matter. There is no excuse, no good reason. I am sure no one would understand. If they could, I wouldn't want them to. I just write these things to say why.

Please know that I love Leigh Ann, Matthew and Mychelle with all of my heart. If Jehovah is willing, I would like to see all of them again in the resurrection, to have a second chance. I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction.

You should kill me if you can.

Mark O. Barton


Timeline of events:

14'50 Police receive call reporting shootings.
15'00 Dozens of police officers begin arriving at Two Securities Centre.
15'30 A maintenance crew discovers three bodies inside Mark O. Barton's apartment in the Bristol Green apartment complex in Henry County.
15'45 Workers seen being evacuated by police.
15'51 As many as six people are reported shot. Police say they are looking for a suspect identified by a staffer in the building's leasing office.
15'56 Witnesses say the shooting may have been related to a day-trading office in the building.
16'02 A witness describes workers running from a third-floor area of the office building and seeing blood in hall near the property manager's office.
16'07 Northside Hospital reports it will be receiving victims.
16'09 Witnesses say shooting at stock trading office in Building 8 of Piedmont Center began shortly after 1500.
16'15 It is confirmed that shootings have occurred at two sites -- Piedmont Center and Two Securities Centre.
16'25 A witness says five people were killed in the trading office at 3525 Piedmont Road at Piedmont Center. The witness says the suspect said, "I hope this doesn't ruin your trading day," then began shooting.
16'30 Police go to the Berry Hill airport in Stockbridge, looking for a plane they believe Barton had there.
16'36 A witness reports seeing about nine people wounded in Building 8 of Piedmont Center.
16'40 At least 10 people are now reported being treated at area hospitals.
16'47 Four people are confirmed in critical condition at Grady Hospital.
17'35 Mayor Bill Campbell confirms nine were killed and 12 injured. Campbell calls Barton the shooting suspect. Campbell says Vice President Al Gore called to offer assistance.
19'45 Cobb police spot Barton's van on I-75 near Wade Green Road.
19'54 Barton's 1992 dark green Aerostar minivan is surrounded by police at a BP gas station in Acworth near I-75 on Ga. 92.
20'17 Police confirm Barton is dead at a gas station in Cobb County. He shot himself in the head as officers surrounded his car.
20'22 Mayor Bill Campbell announces that after being followed by police, Barton pulls into a BP station in Acworth and commits suicide. "This brings a very, very unhappy day to an ending here in Atlanta," Campbell says.
21'45 Officials remove Mark Barton's body from his van after he shot and killed himself at a gas station on Highway 92 near I-75 Thursday evening.
 

VICTIMS

A list of the nine people killed in Thursday's office shootings:

Russell J. Brown, 42, Cumming, Georgia
Dean Delawalla, 62, Atlanta
Joseph J. Dessert, 60, Marietta, Georgia
Kevin Dial, 38, Atlanta
Jamshid Havash, 44, Dunwoody, Georgia
Vadewattee Muralidhara, 44, Peachtree City, Georgia
Edward Quinn, 58, Norcross, Georgia
Charles Allen Tenenbaum, 48, Atlanta
Scott Webb, 30, Chesterfield, Missouri
 

Family members killed earlier by "blunt force trauma":

Leigh Ann Barton, 27, gunman Mark Barton's wife
Matthew Barton, 11, his son from a previous marriage
Elizabeth Mychelle Barton, 7, his daughter from a previous marriage

 

 

 
 
 
 
contact