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Father Charged with Killing Wife and Two Children over Two Years

July 20, 1995 GMT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Family members thought Jack Barron was a meticulous man dedicated to his wife and their two children.

Police call him a murderer who meticulously killed his family members one by one over the course of two years.

``He always seemed like he was so taken with his family,″ said Norma Paget, the mother of Barron’s late wife. ``He was so dedicated, we never thought he’d do something like this.″

Barron, 34, is to be arraigned July 26 on three counts of murder. Irene Barron, 34, was smothered to death in June 1992; their 4-year-old son, Jeremy, in February 1993; and their daughter Ashley, also 4 at the time of her death in August 1994.

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Police also suspect Barron killed his mother, 52-year-old Roberta Butler, in Benicia last February. But prosecutors in Solano County will not file charges until after the Sacramento cases are resolved.

All of the victims showed signs of asphyxiation, but there was no criminal investigation until a Solano County coroner ruled Mrs. Butler’s death a homicide.

That ruling triggered a reopening of the cases of the three victims in Sacramento County, where the coroner initially was unable to determine the causes of death. Barron was arrested Monday after the three deaths were ruled homicides.

Friends and family say Barron was obsessed with household chores and personal hygiene. He would follow his wife around the family’s south Sacramento home, erasing the fresh vacuum tracks on the rug as quickly as she made them.

He carried a damp wash cloth in a plastic bag so he could wash his hands and face during family outings. The children weren’t allowed to play outside because they might get dirty.

In a letter authorities found after his wife’s death, Mrs. Barron bemoaned her husband’s request for a divorce.

``I have a hard time believing the only reason for this is my inability to keep the house exactly the way you like it,″ her letter said. ``You obviously don’t want to talk to me about it and that really scares me.″

John C. Paget, Mrs. Barron’s brother, said he became suspicious of his brother-in-law because of what he believed was an odd reaction to Jeremy’s death in 1993.

``He didn’t seem to have a grasp on the trauma that the rest of us in the family were experiencing,″ Paget said. ``He was at times almost euphoric with the attention he was getting with all the deaths.″

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After Jeremy’s death, Barron laughed and joked in the back yard of the family home as he released leftover balloons from his son’s funeral, Paget said.

When Ashley died the next year, Barron was captivated by a bouquet of flowers and a phone call from country singer Wynonna Judd, whom he had come to know because he was an ardent fan.

``Jack comes bouncing into the house after the funeral with this bouquet of flowers and for the next 40 minutes could do nothing but talk about Wynonna Judd and this wonderful conversation he’d had with her,″ Paget said.