Before Atlanta shooting spree, gunman killed family with hammer
But note by bodies vague on motive
July 30, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- By the time Mark Barton opened fire in a pair of Atlanta office buildings, killing nine people, he had already killed his wife and two children in nearby Stockbridge with blows from a hammer as they slept. Barton put them face down underwater in a bathtub to "make sure they did not wake up in pain," he wrote in a note left with the three bodies.
The note, read aloud to reporters by Henry County Sheriff Jimmy Mercer, revealed how tortured Barton felt at the time of the killings, but did not fully explain his reasons.
Authorities say Barton was having financial and marital difficulties, but the note does not specifically link those problems to his outbursts.
"Words can not tell the agony," the note reads.
"I have been dying since October," Barton wrote. "Wake up at night, so afraid, so terrified, that I couldn't be that afraid while awake. It has taken its toll. I have come to hate this life in this system of things. I have come to have no hope."
"I killed the children to exchange them for five minutes of pain, for a lifetime of pain. I forced myself to do it to keep them from suffering so much later. No mother, no father, no relatives."
He professed his love for all three in the note -- and in separate, short handwritten messages found near their bodies that appear to ask God to take care of them.
In the longer note, Barton called his wife "one of the main reasons for my demise," but also says he wishes he hadn't killed her.
MORE DETAILS TO COME
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