Saturday, March 28, 2009

2 Kidnappings, 2 States, 2 Very Different Outcomes Part 1

It's no wonder it's so frustrating when children go missing to try and figure out what has really happened....things are often not what they seem. The 2 cases reported in part 1 and part 2 (located right below this entry) illustrate the conundrum faced by those assigned the task of solving these cases.


Eighteen month old Emma Leigh Barker was first reported missing by a man who called police around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19. He said his sister, Stacey Barker, woke up partially clothed at the Park-n-Ride in Palmdale, California and discovered her toddler was missing, sheriff's officials said. He also said the 23-year-old mother had been injured.

When deputies arrived at the scene, Barker told them that she and her daughter had been at Lancaster City Park when she was attacked and blacked out, said Lt. Vince Carter of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Palmdale station. Barker told deputies she remembered putting her daughter in the carseat before she was attacked, but the next thing she is aware of is waking up six hours later at the Park-n-Ride with injuries, and her daughter missing. The distance between the park in Lancaster and the Palmdale site is about nine miles. Detectives said Barker had injuries consistent with a struggle, including bruises on her head and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Initially, the investigation into this case was treated as a disappearance by the sheriff's department, and Barker's initial interviews with detectives Thursday morning were handled by the Sheriff's Department's Major Crimes Bureau. The story that Barker allegedly told detectives about being struck in the back of the head and getting knocked unconscious was different from the version of events she gave to deputies from the Palmdale station who initially responded to her location.

During the early hours of the investigation, deputies, assisted by bloodhounds, went from car to car at the park-and-ride lot in hopes of finding the toddler or information. About 9 a.m. Thursday, several pieces of clothing were found behind a bush in a dirt area behind a fence, and were later identified as the woman's, authorities said.

Through the course of questioning, the mother's story continued to change until Stacey Barker admitted that her daughter died as a result of an accident and that she panicked and dumped her daughter's body out of fear she would be blamed, authorities said. She also admitted that she took off most of her own clothes and injured herself just before she was discovered by police in a Park and Ride lot. Officials said that at 11 a.m. Thursday morning, Barker directed investigators to where she left her daughter's body, in some tall weeds in the vicinity of Roxford Street and El Dorado Avenue, off Interstate 5.

Once the girl's body was found, the case was transferred to the Homicide Bureau, which has now taken over all aspects of the investigation. Officials said the mother was not being detained, but the case would be presented to the district attorney's office. Sheriff's Lt. Pat Nelson said Barker was not a suspect, but added: "That may change as circumstances develop."

Sheriff's officials have not yet said what sort of accident Stacey Barker said killed her daughter.
Coroner officials said an autopsy was conducted on Friday, but the cause of death has not yet been determined. "It is still being investigated," said Assistant Coroner Chief Ed Winter.

On Tuesday, March 24, hundreds of friends and family and a scattered crowd of local residents gathered at the Joshua Memorial Park & Mortuary to say their final goodbyes to 18-month-old Emma. Sitting in the middle of Susan and Gary Barker at the memorial park, 23-year-old Stacey Barker was holding her parents' hands with her eyes filled with tears.

Bedded in a white plush coffin, people paid their last tribute to the little girl in the chapel. Many family members also wore a yellow-beaded ribbon with a red ladybug on their clothes in a show of affection and respect. Family and friends will forever remember Emma Leigh Barker as "a princess and a little girl who always had a smile on her face."

Link to part 2



Antelope Valley Press Sphere: Related Content


  1. These storie just frighten me being a mother of 2 little girls.
    Thank you so much for putting these stories out there. More people need awareness!

  2. Hello Jill,
    I was just thinking of you and poof there was your comment. I visited your blog and loved it! You are a blast! I loved your movie review!

    Was there a much coverage in the Orlando area on Sandra C-F after the Amber Alert went out. So nice to have a happy ending.

    Poor Leigh, I will follow up on her case as it develops. I hope her death turns out to be an accident....even so, I don't understand how someone could be selfish enough to dump their baby's body by the side of the road?

  3. See April 24 update on katfishponders. Stacey barker has been arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder.