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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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.