David Barnes Sr.

Above: Barnes, circa 1988
(nine years prior to his disappearance; more recent photos are unavailable)


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: October 1997 from Manhattan, New York
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Age: 70 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'7, 180 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: African-American male. Graying brown hair, gray eyes. Barnes may have a mustache, beard or a goatee. He wore his hair in a ponytail prior to his 1997 disappearance. Barnes's face was slightly rounder in 1997 than it appears in the photo above.
  • Medical Conditions: Authorities believe that Barnes may be disoriented for unspecified reasons.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Barnes disappeared from Manhattan, New York sometime in October 1997. At the time of his disappearance, he lived in a three-bedroom apartment in Amsterdam Houses in the 2400 block of west 6th Street; he had once been the building superintendant, but had retired.

    Barnes had raised his grandson, Matthew Lewis. In 1997, Lewis was estranged from his wife and stepchildren, and Barnes invited Lewis to move back in with him. A few months later, in October of that year, Barnes stopped contacting his family, and Lewis gave conflicting explanations as to his whereabouts. In February 1998, Barnes's son went to his apartment to check on him. Lewis told him Barnes was with a girlfriend. Barnes's son didn't believe him and called the police.

    In January 2002, Lewis was arrested and charged with his grandfather's murder. Authorities believe he killed Barnes to take over his apartment and steal his pension and Social Security benefits. At trial, Lewis admitted he'd forged Barnes's name and stolen $27,000 from his checking account, but denied the murder. He was convicted at trial in January 2004 and sentenced to a total of 37 1/2 years to life in prison: 22 1/2 years for the murder, ten years for forgery and five for larcency.

    Barnes's body has never been found; investigators believe Lewis dismembered it with a chainsaw and put the pieces in a trash bin. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.


    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    New York City Police Department


    Source Information
    New York City Police Department
    The New York Post


    Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated December 12, 2016; date of disappearance corrected, details of disappearance updated.

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