On Dec. 27, 2010, my son, Don Barker, was brutally murdered by three men at Madison Elementary School in Everett. Within just a few days, all three of his killers had been jailed, and today, all three have been sentenced and incarcerated for his senseless murder.
Donald’s death is the most traumatic event that my family has ever had to endure. From that first horrific phone call, to the constant hearings and court dates, to the horrendous trial, our lives have forever changed. Many families going through similar situations must endure years before the defendant goes to trial, while some murderers are never found. Not only were the murderers of my son apprehended very quickly, within just over a year all three have been sent to prison.
I want to thank all involved with apprehending Donald’s murderers: Jimmy Ruiz Jr., Patrick Griffiths and William Gobat.
Very special thanks to Prosecuting Attorney Matt Baldac, who communicated with us and asked for our input after every hearing, court date and throughout the trial (I don’t think I could have made it through without him), and Victim Advocates Heidi Potter and Renee Kollman. To detectives Tim O’hara and Andy Williams, who showed us kindness and compassion but were relentless in “getting the bad guys”: You are truly heroes.
To Judge Castleberry: Your wisdom, strength and compassion throughout all of the hearings, sentencings and trial will not be forgotten. I understand that you are now retired — the court system has lost “one of the good ones.”
And lastly, special thanks and great affection to Cathy Hix, Families &Friends of Violent Crimes, who held our hands, wiped our tears, and made us laugh when we didn’t know if we could go on — an angel walking on earth.