Georgia killer's notes show a troubled man
July 30, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- By the time Mark Barton shot to death nine people in a pair of Atlanta office buildings, he already had killed his wife and two children with blows from a hammer as they slept.
Barton, 44, put them face down underwater in a bathtub to "make sure they did not wake up in pain," he wrote in a note describing how earlier this week he bludgeoned his second wife, Leigh Ann, 27, and his two children from his first marriage -- 11-year-old Matthew and 7-year-old Elizabeth Mychelle.
The stock market day trader killed himself in his van Thursday night in the northern suburb of Acworth as police closed in on him about five hours after the office building shootings in Atlanta, taking the death toll to 13.
The weapons found at the suicide site, .45-caliber and 9 millimeter handguns, are the same kind of guns Barton is believed to have used in the Atlanta shootings.
Hospitals were caring Friday for 10 of the wounded, seven of them in critical condition. Other wounded people were treated and released.
'Words can not tell the agony'
Barton's computer-written note, read aloud to reporters by Henry County Police Chief Jimmy Mercer, was found in the living room of his family's apartment in suburban Stockbridge, south of Atlanta.
Barton's words reveal how tortured he felt at the time of the killings, but do not fully explain his motive.
Authorities are investigating his alleged financial and marital difficulties, but the note does not specifically link those problems to his actions.
"Words cannot tell the agony," the note reads.
'I have come to hate this life'
"I have been dying since October," Barton wrote. He said he was "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 expressed his love for all three in the note as well as in shorter, handwritten messages found with the bodies of his wife and children. Those notes appear to ask God to take care of them.
But in the longer note, Barton also calls his wife "one of the main reasons for my demise."
"I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill ... the people that greedily sought my destruction," he wrote.
The note also contains the names of three people -- Joe Fowler, Gladys Barton and Bill Spivey. Fowler's identify and the reason his name is mentioned are not yet clear.
Gladys Barton is the gunman's widowed mother. Spivey was Barton's father-in-law from his first marriage.
Mark Barton was a suspect in the murders six years ago of his first wife, Debra Spivey Barton, 36, and her mother, Eloise Spivey, 59.
The women were beaten to death with a sharp instrument at a campground in Cherokee County, Alabama, about 100 miles from Atlanta.
Barton was never charged in that crime, but authorities and the Spivey family suspect he was the killer. Barton denied that in the note found with his second wife and children.
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, who had earlier said the chemist-turned-day trader was upset about his stock market losses, told CNN Friday it may be impossible to learn the full story behind the carnage. "Quite honestly, I don't know if we'll ever know what the true motives of Mr. Barton were," Campbell said.
Linda Lerner, an attorney for All-Tech Investment Group, a day-trading firm Barton once used, said there was nothing unusual about his trading activities and that he was "going through a difficult divorce."
"He was a customer until a couple of months ago and then he went to another firm to trade," she said in Montvale, New Jersey, where All-Tech is headquartered. "We're going through his account now to determine what his trading gains and losses were."
"Day trading does take place in a high pressure environment, but I understand from the firm where he had been trading until two days ago that there was nothing remarkable about his trading," she said.
"I don't know that you can necessarily tie his trading to these killings," she added.
'An eerie feeling'
Barton, dark-haired and 6-foot-4, was wearing khaki shorts when he walked into the Momentum Securities brokerage at the Two Securities Centre building in the trendy Buckhead section of Atlanta about 3 p.m. Thursday.
Four people were killed within minutes.
Barton then walked across a busy road and into the All-Tech branch in the Piedmont Center building. Five died there.
Barton, who was carrying a pistol in each hand, at one point in the rampage, managed to escape from the Buckhead area and elude a police search for five hours until his suicide.
On Friday morning, workers returned to the two buildings, but the offices where the nine deaths occurred remained closed as police investigated the crime scene.
Someone left a bouquet of spring flowers -- red carnations, yellow chrysanthemums and white daisies -- outside each building with a card that said, "I'm so sorry. God bless you."
"Everyone is still shaken," said Millicent Pilate as she returned to work in the complex.
Coming back to the building was an "eerie feeling," said Sheldon Casey.
Correspondents Brian Cabell, Mike Boettcher, Martin Savidge and Holly Firfer contributed to this report.
All-Tech Investment Group Online
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