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Killer Posts his Own Fliers After Police Notification


April 24, 2002
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Killer Posts his Own Fliers After Police Notification

by Maria Newman, New York Times

It was a typical warning for a time when nervous residents want to be told about criminals in their midst. Last week, representatives of the Middlesex County prosecutor's office went door to door in South River, N.J., to distribute notices saying that a convicted child killer was living in the neighborhood.

One of those who got the notices was the former convict himself, Glenn H. Barker, who fired back in a decidedly atypical fashion. In the last several days, Mr. Barker has been distributing his own fliers on car windshields near his home and workplace in Milltown to rebut what he calls misleading information that the county's notices have spread.

"To start with, let me make it perfectly clear that no one in this community or any other community has anything to fear about me," Mr. Barker wrote in his two-page typewritten handout. "I have no desire for your children, wives, husbands, pets, or anything else that you have. All I want is a normal life without the community being scared for no reason, by the powers that are."

The Star-Ledger of Newark published an article yesterday about Mr. Barker's fliers.

Mr. Barker, 43, who in 1983 was convicted of murdering a 12-year-old girl in Virginia, said the authorities were harassing him, after he had served his time, by publicizing his presence and by following him.

"Do you think my rights are violated when they single me out and no one else?" he said yesterday at his front door, answering many questions with other questions. "I'm not a danger to anyone."

The notices that the prosecutor's office put out were meant to help residents of South River, where Mr. Barker lives, and Milltown, where he works, to protect themselves, said Peter Hamerslag, an assistant county prosecutor. The prosecutor's office also held two town meetings on Friday, in the two communities, to discuss Mr. Barker's presence.

The notice says that in addition to the murder conviction, Mr. Barker was charged in 1981 in North Carolina with kidnapping a 16-year-old girl at knifepoint, tying her to a bed and threatening to burn the house she was in. The girl escaped, and Mr. Barker pleaded guilty to a lesser crime after she refused to testify, according to the notice.

The notice says that Mr. Barker "cruises mall parking lots, has stopped to assist a stranded female motorist, looks for women to talk to, and has coached youth basketball and baseball teams at a Y.M.C.A."

Mr. Barker, who works at a sign company and has lived in South River for five months, said yesterday that he was not a murderer.

"That's what they convicted me of, but I'm not guilty," he said outside the two-story house where he lives, across the street from a Russian Orthodox church in this working-class community.

But in his flier, he admitted to the kidnapping: "I was heavy into drugs and alcohol and very depressed. I was wrong and am truly very sorry."

Since Megan's Law cleared legal hurdles in New Jersey in 1997, officials have been allowed to send out notices warning neighbors that a sexual offender lives among them. But such notices are unusual for other criminals, said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union.

"They can't give out his home address," she said. "But there is nothing to prohibit them from giving out information about his criminal record."

She also said that while residents seem to want this kind of notification, there is little evidence that it helps deter crime, and it may even prod criminals to return to their old ways.

"When they can't hold down a job and get an apartment, because people know of a crime they've committed, it makes it difficult for people to move forward," she said.

Mr. Hamerslag of the prosecutor's office said this was not the first notice put out about Mr. Barker, who moved to Old Bridge in 1997 and who worked as a volunteer basketball coach at the Family Y.M.C.A. of South Brunswick in 1998. But he was dismissed after the authorities sent parents a notification about his past.

Then he moved to Jackson Township in Ocean County, and the prosecutor's office there sent out a similar notice to his neighbors.

Sgt. Doug Cole of the South River Police said Mr. Barker was on the force's "regular patrol." He said officers frequently drove by his house to check on him.

One of Mr. Barker's neighbors, Cara Waldron, 32, said she would not let her young son play at a friend's house because he lives near Mr. Barker. "It's really scary. I know he's done his time, but. . . ." she said, her voice trailing off.




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