Jack Barron


Jack Barron

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: 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
Number of victims: 3 - 4
Date of murders: 1992 - 1995
Date of arrest: July 20, 1995
Date of birth: 1962
Victims profile: His wife Irene / His son, Jeremy, 4 / His daughter, Ashley, 4 / His mother, Roberta Butler, 52
Method of murder: Suffocation with pillow
Location: Sacramento County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to 3 consecutive life terms in prison with no parole on April 15, 2000

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.

Eight 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

Jack Barron, 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 neighbor.

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 insurance.

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.

Jack Barron

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 death.

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.



Feb. 6, 2000 --

From day 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 testified Tuesday.

But, 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.

On Tuesday, 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, Solano County.

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, 76.

Barron, 38, also is pleased that he is finally on trial, defense attorney Eluid M. Romero said.

"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 Paget.

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 1964.

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 dad.

"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 Paget said.

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 children.

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 around."

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 failing marriage.

"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 Superior Court.

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, Gumbelevicius said.

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 she slept.

"Unfortunately, the (subsequent) appointment was not kept," he said. "We tried four or five times to get Mr. Barron to come back (with Ashley.)"

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 natural causes.

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 testified.

The day's most dramatic testimony came, however, from Paget, 53, who described how Barron's personality changed after the deaths.

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 Ashley's services.


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 argument.

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 prosecution witnesses.

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. 7, 1994.

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 record.

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 jail.

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 away!' "

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 testified.

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 is lying.

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 events.

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 the case."

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 beds.

O'Mara has pointed to Barron's failing marriage as the triggering factor behind the deaths.

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 was different.

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 body bag.

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 Benicia.

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 smiled."

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 said.

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 without parole.

Relatives of the victims sobbed as Superior Court Judge Michael T. Garcia read the verdict after two days' deliberation.



April 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.

Claiming he 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.