Details of Disappearance
Katie was last seen at the home of a friend, Tammy Gates, in the 2700 block of McElroy Drive in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 12, 1982. She was spending the night with her Tammy; her own family lived in an apartment in the Four Seasons subdivision off Rio Road.
Katie's friend's mother, Carrie Gates, called Katie's parents early that morning, thinking the girl had returned to her own apartment. She had not, however. Katie's parents notified police of her disappearance.
Glenn Haslam Barker was one of the people who volunteered in the effort to search for Katie. A photograph of him is posted with this case summary. He had previously dated Carrie, but their relationship was over by July 1982. He was employed as a clerk at a gas station and convenience store which Katie's father frequently patronized.
Authorities suspected Barker immediately in part due to his criminal record; he pleaded guilty to assault in 1981 after admitting to kidnapping teenage female acquaintance and holding her at knifepoint. Police interrogated him at Katie's disappearance.
He admitted having seen her on the night she went missing. He stated he had come by the Gates home after everyone had gone to bed, and had given Katie and Tammy one can of beer each. Tammy said she and Katie had actually had more alcohol than that, and got sick afterwards. Afterwards, they went to bed.
Barker stated he left at 12:30 a.m., after making sure Katie, Tammy and Tammy's younger brother were asleep. Tammy woke up at 5:30 a.m. and realized Katie was missing.
Investigators did not believe Barker's story and, with his permission, searched his apartment in the Hessian Hills apartment complex on Georgetown Road. They found wet, bloodstained men's clothing and towels wedged between his mattress and box spring.
Some of the blood was Type A, Barker's blood type, and some was Type B. Katie's blood was Type B; authorities discovered this fact by testing the menstrual blood on her bedsheets. Barker said he did not know how the clothes had gotten there.
Authorities searched the residence a second time several days later and found a pair of girls' panties hidden in a rolled-up ball of socks in Barker's dresser. There was a tiny bloodstain in the back of the panties, consistent with the location where Katie injected her insulin.
Barker was arrested and charged with Katie's murder in January 1983, six months after she went missing. Prosecutors theorized that after Katie became intoxicated, Barker carried her to the living room, attempted to molest her, then killed her. A few drops of Type B blood were found on the living room rug and coffee table. Barker maintained his innocence, stating he had had nothing to do with Katie's disappearance.
The jury convicted Barker of second-degree murder and recommended a sentence of 18 years in prison, two years short of the maximum. They acquitted him of first-degree murder, meaning they did not believe Katie's murder was premeditated. He was only the second person to be convicted of murder in Virginia without the victim's body.
Barker was paroled from prison in 1992. He was rearrested in 1993 and charged with possession of a firearm after a pellet gun was found in his car, and served a further six months in jail before being released again.
Barker's name has been mentioned in connection with other homicides and missing persons cases and some theorize he was a serial murderer. He was never charged with any deaths besides Katie's, however, and maintained he he didn't harm Katie and the only wrongdoing he committed that night was giving her and Tammy beer when they were underage.
Barker stated he believed he had been framed by the police, and accused them of planting the bloodstained clothing found in his apartment. He died of natural causes in North Carolina in 2014, at the age of 55.
Katie's parents divorced after Barker's conviction. Her body has never been located, but foul play is strongly suspected in her disappearance due to the circumstances involved.