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Son Admits Murdering and Dismembering Mother, Then Stashing Remains in Garage: Police

Robert Barnes

Robert Andrew Barnes

Law enforcement authorities in Texas arrested a 36-year-old man who allegedly admitted to murdering his mother, dismembering her corpse, and storing the remains in a crate kept inside his garage. According to a report from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Robert Andrew Barnes was taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with murder and tampering with a corpse in connection with the death of Lucila Barnes, 72.

According to the report, family members allegedly told sheriff’s deputies that they had not heard from the victim for several days despite multiple attempts to get in touch with her. The family said that when they did attempt to visit the victim’s home, the defendant approached them wielding a shotgun and allegedly pointed the firearm at members of the family.

Deputies on Oct. 20 were then dispatched to perform a welfare check of their own at Lucila’s home at 11127 Cactus Point Court.  They subsequently arrived at approximately 9:00 p.m. and encountered an “uncooperative” Robert Barnes, the sheriff’s office said.

Barnes “actually brandished a firearm outside the residence and was not cooperative with investigators when they first arrived on scene,” Sgt. Jason Brown said in a press briefing streamed by Houston CBS affiliate KHOU.  Brown said that Robert “wouldn’t let anybody else inside the house,” including deputies.

After Robert gave the authorities “several conflicting stories” about his mother’s whereabouts, authorities obtained a search warrant for the home. They returned on Thursday to execute the warrant.  When they entered the residence, they discovered “a large amount of blood.” Homicide and Crime Scene Units were then called to the scene.

During a search of the home, a “large wooden crate was discovered in the garage,” polices said. Upon opening the crate, investigators made a grisly discovery, as it contained Lucila’s dismembered body.

According to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Lucila’s body showed signs of trauma. He described the matter as a “sad and horrific case.”

Barnes allegedly admitted to fatally shooting and dismembering his mother in an interview with police following his arrest, the sheriff’s office said.

Appearing before a magistrate judge on Friday for a probable cause hearing, new details about the horrific crime were unveiled. Prosecutors reportedly alleged that Robert had made the box to store his mother’s dismembered remains a month earlier.

Robert “confessed that he shot his mother multiple times and mutilated her body to fit into this box,” a magistrate judge reportedly said before issuing a ruling on Robert’s bond request.  He said it also “did stand out” that when the victim’s “sister went to check on her, he [Robert] came out with an AK rifle and told them to leave,” the magistrate judge reportedly continued.

The defendant allegedly told his family that he had taken his mother to the airport.  When officers asked which airport his mother had used, the defendant couldn’t say what airport he had visited.

The defendant’s attorney, a public defender, asked a judge to set a low bond for Robert by emphasizing that the defendant had an 8-year-old son and no money in the bank. The magistrate ultimately set Robert’s bond at $650,000.

The defendant is currently being held at the Harris County Jail. His is scheduled to formally appear before a judge on Monday for arraignment.

[image via Harris County Sheriff’s Office]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.