Friday, November 07, 2014

Kidnapping Suspect's Uncle Recognized Him From Videotapes - But Did Not Notify Police

An edited version of this story appeared in
Philadelphia Daily News

PHILADELPHIA -- It was horrific. A 22-year-old nursing assistant viciously kidnapped in Philadelphia; a video showing her kicking, struggling against her assailant who -- it  was later discovered -- allegedly kidnapped, raped, and attempted to murder a 16-year-old girl just a month before.

But there may be something more horrific: A relative of the suspect could have notified the police of the man’s identity, but chose not to.

“I suspected it was him,” Lamar Barnes, answered when asked on the cable network show, Dr. Drew On Call last night if he recognized his nephew, Delvin Barnes  from the many videotapes and photographs released by the police.

When the show’s host, Dr. Drew Pinsky, then asked why he didn’t call the police, Lamar Barnes answered that family doesn’t turn over family members to the police. Then added: Especially people of color.

Carlesha Freeland-Gaither's kidnapping ordeal ended Wednesday – three days after her abduction, through the efforts of law enforcement officials in three states, and the help on one man -- Dwayne Fletcher, 37, who witnessed the ordeal, and immediately called the police, using a cell phone that Freeland-Gaithers had deliberately dropped on the sidewalk during the attack.

But it might have ended sooner if Barnes’ uncle or any other family member had contacted the police as soon as they suspected it was him in the video.

When asked if police department had any comment about Lamar Barnes' admission, Public Affairs Officer Jillian Russell would only say: "At this point, Carlesha is safe and [Delvin Barnes] is custody and we are going to let the prosecution process take place."

Philadelphia community activist Maisha Ongoza said there may be systemic reasons for people of color to hesitate going to the police.

“But let’s make it clear, it’s not because they have some allegiance to crime. I think it’s more of a fear that if they turn someone in that person might get beaten by the police, or not get a fair hearing,” said Ongoza, who recently retired as coordinator of the Say Yes to Education, Bryant Chapter.

Ongoza also wanted to make clear that she believes that Barnes’ uncle should have notified the police when he suspected that his nephew was the perpetrator, especially since he knew about Barnes’ violent history towards women.

Barnes was arrested in 2005 for breaking into the home of his estranged wife, hitting and choking her, and then attacking her parents when they tried to come to her aide. According to reports Barnes was sent away for seven years and, moved to Virginia when released last year.

Just last month Barnes allegedly walked up on a 16-year-old girl in Virginia and hit her in the head with a shovel; he then kidnapped and raped her, then showed her photographs of other girls who he said were his previous victims. Barnes is said to have doused the girl with bleach and gasoline, and had started digging her grave. Miraculously, the girl was able to escape. DNA evidence linked Barnes to the crime, and Virginia authorities put out a warrant for his arrest.

Surveillance cameras show Freeland-Gaither had just gotten off a SEPTA bus at the intersection of Coulter and Greene streets at 9:40 p.m. Sunday when she was approached by a man who grabbed her. Though she fought him all the way, he dragged her to his car and shoved her inside.

The sole witness to the crime was Fletcher, and Philadelphia police have said that had it not been for him, they may not have even known, until too late, that a crime had been committed.

The question, though, is whether the crime could have been more quickly solved if Lamar Barnes had notified the police when he suspected the man shown in the pictures and videotapes was his nephew.

“That’s just preposterous. He ought to be ashamed of himself,” said 26-year-old East Oaklane resident, Gelea L. Matthews when she heard about Lamar Barnes' remarks on the show. “I understand family ties, but you have a duty, as a human being, to say something when you know someone’s life in danger.”

Supreem Da Rezarekta’, a well-known Philadelphia MC, said that there was simply no justifiable excuse for anyone who recognized Delvin Barnes on the videotape to sit back and do nothing.

“I even understand the whole ‘no-snitch’ stuff, but the deal is sometimes you have to step up and do the right thing,” said the entertainer. “Don’t worry about the code of the streets or anything. How would he feel if it was his daughter?”

In his defense Lamar Barnes, who has said that he has a daughter and granddaughters, claimed that if he knew how to contact his nephew he would have tried to convince him to turn himself in.

Lamar Barnes also told Dr. Drew that he wished the Freeland-Gaither’s family well, and is glad that their daughter is back home with them. 

Filed 8:05 a.m. by Karen E. Quinones Miller