The Dangerous Son

Mark Barnes Sits in a New York Jail, Accused of Murdering His Mother. Friends Back Home Think Steroids Made Him Do It.

Barnes rented a room at the $25-a-night Link View Motel with nothing but a duffel bag of dirty clothes. That summer, Jon Cota recalls spotting Barnes at a public pool, dressed in winter clothes. "He's making faces at the kids and talking to himself. You could tell those last two years he just took a huge turn for the worse. I went up to the fence and said, 'Man, will you just leave? You're freaking kids out and my kids are here and I don't appreciate it.' He said, 'I thought we were friends.' I said, 'Man, I don't know you anymore.' "

That winter, Barnes stopped meeting with his probation officer. In June, residents complained to police about a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses staring at girls in the park through a pair of binoculars. Barnes was arrested, and again, his mother paid the bail. He was acquitted of violating his probation, because his psychologist hadn't established a clear schedule.

Barnes continued to visit his mother, leaning on her for financial support. "He would come by whenever he needed money, and get mad at her if she ever said no," says Pam Savoy. Less than a week before Christmas, coworkers at Pat's witnessed Barbara warning her son not to visit her at work. The following day, a neighbor saw Barnes entering his mother's apartment. When Barbara did not show up for her morning shift at the pizzeria, coworkers became worried and called Orono police.

At 7:40 a.m. officers arrived at her apartment; at that same moment Barnes sat uneasily in the back seat of a taxi heading south. The driver later told police Barnes peered again and again out the back window and instructed him to stay off the main roads. All her friends knew Barbara Barnes did not believe in using banks and kept large sums of money in her apartment. But when police searched her apartment, they found none. When Barnes's taxi reached Waterville, roughly 70 miles south of Orono, the driver reported, Barnes paid the $116 fare with two $100 bills. He later paid a $270 taxi fare to Boston with two hundreds, a fifty, and a twenty, the driver said. Before police even knew who they were looking for, Barnes had escaped.

According to Tatem, Barnes's attorney, his client has yet to discuss the events that preceded his arrival in New York, his alleged steroid use, or his shattered family. Two years ago, unwilling to leave her son alone in the world, Barbara had objected to a judge's plan to forbid Mark from visiting.

"No," she pleaded. "I don't mind if he calls me. If he wants to call and have lunch somewhere or something . . . I don't mind that. I'm here to help him, not to hurt him."

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