The Associated Press
ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) -- A volunteer cold-case squad has solved a
homicide that began with the disappearance of a 31-year-old Azalea
woman in 1988.
But the suspect in the apparent killing of Barbara Joy Gallagher
committed suicide in 2001.
It's the second case the squad has solved, after resolving the 1975
murder of 16-year-old Benny King last year. The squad is comprised of
retired law enforcement officers who volunteer their time to the
Douglas County sheriff's office to work mysteries that have
languished for years.
Gallagher, or "Barbie" as she was known to family and friends, was
living with Robert Douglas Barr, 59, at the time of her disappearance
in October 1988, according to the sheriff's office.
Police focused their investigation on Barr, but they didn't find the
evidence to arrest him. Barr had two subsequent relationships with
women, one of whom told the cold-case investigators that Barr was
controlling and she felt lucky to be rid of him when he went to
prison on unrelated charges.
The other woman married Barr. She was found murdered in the South
Lake Tahoe, Calif., area in March 2001. Once Barr found out he was
the focus of that police investigation, he killed himself with the
same gun he allegedly used to shoot his wife.
Investigators said several things point to Barr's guilt in
Gallagher's disappearance, including the numerous and conflicting
stories he gave to police.
"He could never tell the same story twice. He lied continually; he
was a con man," said Syd Boyle, a former detective who volunteers
with the cold-case squad.
Barr also was found with several guns in violation of his parole for
past crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, escape and theft,
according to a sheriff's report.
After speaking to many people about the case, investigators found
over 25 circumstances that point to Barr's guilt. There is no
evidence to suggest that anyone else played a role in it, and the
case was closed after a review by Bill Marshall, the senior deputy
Barbara Gallagher's body was never found.
The squad is now investigating the murder of 26-year-old Oakland
resident Dennis Ray Smith, who was found buried in a shallow grave
near his Kellogg home.
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He was shot to death sometime after his disappearance in October 1995
and was found in January 1997, Boyle said.