TACOMA, WA – Today Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Tony James Barrett, 41, with Murder in the First Degree. The defendant killed his wife, Sara Barrett, 42, in Tacoma on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. After the murder, the defendant called KOMO news to confess and asked the station to post the story to their Facebook page.
"Unfortunately, this is an example of how abusive relationships can end," said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "Our office vigorously prosecutes cases of domestic violence. We hope to see the cycle end before it comes to this."
Ms. Barrett filed for divorce in early March 2013, and the defendant was aware of the filing. On March 13, at approximately 2:00 p.m., when Ms. Barrett was leaving work, a person, presumed to be the defendant, drove up to her in the parking lot. They left the parking lot in his van. Around 3:30 p.m., Ms. Barrett's son, who she was supposed to pick up, called her. She told him she was stuck in traffic. At 4:45 p.m., the defendant checked into Motel 6 in Tacoma. Surveillance video appears to show Ms. Barrett with him. The defendant left the hotel about half an hour later.
At about 6:50 p.m., the defendant called KOMO news to report that he killed his wife. He requested that they post it on their Facebook page. Instead, KOMO immediately contacted Puyallup Police. Simultaneously, Ms. Barrett's son reported her missing. Law enforcement also began receiving information from individuals who the defendant had contacted regarding Ms. Barrett's death. He told them she was dead and he had "done something bad." A search began for the defendant's vehicles.
The next morning around 2:50 a.m., the defendant's truck was seen driving in the wrong direction on I-705 in Tacoma. A high speed pursuit commenced. The defendant was eventually stopped in Gig Harbor. He did not comply with police commands and a K-9 unit took him down. At the Tacoma General Hospital, he was treated for injuries and an over-the-counter drug overdose.
The defendant told officers that Ms. Barrett was at a local motel, and stated that, "She was still breathing when I left her." At about 6:00 a.m., deputies found Ms. Barrett at Motel 6. She was pronounced dead at the scene. She suffered superficial lacerations to her neck. According to the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office, she died of asphyxiation.
The defendant was booked into the Pierce County Jail on March 17, 2013. He was previously convicted of assault in 2007, when he attempted to suffocate Ms. Barrett with a pillow.
The investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be forthcoming. He pled not guilty today at arraignment. Bail was set at $2 million. Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more information, please contact Emily Conlee at (253) 798-6265, [email protected] or Kelly Kelstrup at (253) 798-7792, [email protected].