Jury Chooses Death In The Murder-Assault Of 6 Year Old
January 2, 2001 a beautiful baby boy, named Christopher Michael Barrios, Jr was born, in Brunswick, GA. Christopher had big brown eyes, that twinkled when he smiled; something that he seemed to do all the time. He had soft brown curls and a smile that was infectious. You couldn't help but smile back, when Christopher smiled at you. His parents have said "Everyone who met him, fell in love with him..." and Christopher returned that love to everyone too.
Chris's mom and dad split up when he was just a toddler. His dad, Christopher Michael "Mike" Barrios, Sr. had legal custody of little Chris. He lived in a trailer just down the street from his mother, in the Canal Mobile Home Park, in Brunswick, GA. A trailer park, in a rural area surrounded by woods and tidal canals. It's a beautiful area and a they thought, a great place to raise kids.
In 2007, Christopher celebrated his 6th Birthday. His family described him as an energetic and articulate little boy who loved Spiderman, Batman, Ben-10, and a stray cat in his neighborhood he had adopted and named Jimmy. They said his smile would light up any room, when he walked into it. And to Chris, the whole world was his playground, just waiting to be explored. Before going to bed each night, Christopher would tell each and everyone of his family members "Goodnight, God Bless, I Love You." And every one of them loved Chris back.
Christopher was a Kindergarten student at C.B. Greer Elementary School. The school bus picked him up and dropped him off just yards from his Grandma's house, where he stayed when his dad and stepmom Paula, were at work. Life wasn't always easy for the young family, but in those days it seemed pretty good.
There was another family whose lives weren't working out so well, in the Canal Mobile Home Park. David Edenfeil 59, a man who worked long hours at a fast food restaurant, he was a registered sex offender. In 1994 Edenfield had been arrested for having an incestuous relationship with his mentally retarded adult daughter. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to ten years parole. When asked about it, Edenfield replied; "It was a family member who was mad at me and made up the accusation." His wife, Peggy Edenfeil 57, and their son, George Edenfield, a 32-year-old man, with the mental capacity of a 5-year-old. In May 1997, George Edenfield was convicted of two counts of child molestation and given probation. In September 2006, he was indicted for violating his probation by living less than 1,000 feet from a park in downtown Brunswick, and was ordered to move. On March 5, 2007, Edenfield was sentenced to 10 years probation from the 2006 conviction.
On March 8, 2007 the Barrio's family got up and spent their day the way they usually did, Chris and older brother Devon went to school, while mom Paula and dad Mike went to work. That afternoon Christopher's grandmother Sue Rodriguez, said Chris came home from school, dropped his backpack on the chair, like he did everyday. He grabbed a drink from the fridge and went outside to play.
When Paula got home at 8PM the first thing she did was ask for Chris. Mike replied that he was with his grandma and went next door to bring him home. Seconds later he returned, saying grandma had thought he was here, as he went back out to find Chris. One of the neighbors remembered seeing Chris playing on the swings, across the street from the two houses that Chris went back and forth between, equally at home in either place. 10 minutes later he was back, with no Chris in sight, they called 911. By 8:30 law enforcement had arrived and were starting to search. His grandmother told the police that she last saw Chris sitting on the steps of his father's mobile home as she was leaving the park to run errands. This was around 3:30 in the afternoon when he got home from school. As she drove by she waved goodbye, then she watched out the back window as he waved back.
A neighbor reported last seeing Christopher Thursday night, playing on the swings across the street from his dad's house, another said she saw him walking the up the road, saying he couldn't have been more then 100 feet away from his father's or his grandmother's . How could he have just vanished?
When the local search turned up no answers, some of the officers who began the investigation refused to leave for the night. Even though there were no searches until day break, something may have come up. A 6 year old, was lost and alone somewhere in the dark and they were going to find him. The next day, the word was out around town, one of their own was in trouble. Hundreds of people came to help; bringing food, helping in the search, or just running errands for the family. They came from nearby and they came from far away. All wanted just one thing. To see Chris at home with his family.
Dozens of volunteers spent days helping search for Chris along the road, near the canals and in the woods surrounding the mobile home park. They searched on horseback, they searched on 4x4, the searched on foot. Police found one of Christopher's toys, a Star Wars light saber, near where he was last spotted. It was turned over to the FBI when local Police couldn't identify all the prints found on the toy.
Volunteers felt the family's pain and frustration, saying the search was now personal. "On the walk this morning you think you found something and you find nothing. But I guess we'll continue until we find him," says Bernice Singleton. I have nine grandsons of my own and if something happened to those kids I don't know what I'd do."
On Monday, 4 days after he went missing, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation issued a Levi's Call, the state's equivalent of an Amber Alert. GBI spokesman John Bankhead said Levi's Calls are mostly used for confirmed abductions but "given the scenario, we felt it was best to go ahead and issue one. "Police Chief Matt Doering said; "The only thing that makes any sense is he was abducted."
Christopher's family gave several interviews throughout the days following Christopher's disappearance. Saying they were sure he would be home soon. They were all praying for him. Even Chris's big brother, 10 year old Devon released a statement; "Please come home, and I love you," Christopher's brother said Friday during the search. "I hope he comes home. I miss him." The family thanked everyone for giving their time for the search, and all the help everyone was offering them. Chris's grandma told reporters, "Please, I want my baby back." Mike Barrio's said: "I miss my son. I'm ready for him to come home. I don't know where he is and I wish I knew where to start looking for him, you know, but I don't and it's heartbreaking.
"Police Chief Matt Doering told reporters the family had been ruled out as having anything to do with with their son vanishing. The have allowed officers to search their homes and have all been interviewed. While they were never thought to be suspect, ruling them out was a necessary first step in the investigation.
Everyone in Christopher's Kindergarten class wrote letters to the family, hoping to see Chris back in school with his friends soon. The elementary school principal, Tony Ethridge said the children bring Chris's name up through out the day. A little girl pointed to a desk saying; "This is Christopher's desk". To which her teacher replied "Yes it is; we hope to see him back here, soon."
A reward of $31, 500 had been offered for Christopher's safe return. Hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers, National Guard soldiers and volunteers have been looking for the boy around the Canal mobile home park, from where he was last seen. It seemed the little boy had just vanished.
The first arrest in the case was the family's next door neighbor. LE had arrested George Edenfield' the day after Chris went missing. Just three days before Chris disappeared the judge had sentenced George to ten years parole, for violating his parole. He was once again charged with parole violation for failing to register his new address. That charge was later updated to include obstruction after he and his family gave LE conflicting stories about what they knew about Christopher's disappearance. In one interview, police said George Edenfield told them he knew where the boy was, but in another he said he didn’t know anything about his disappearance.
Chief Doering expressed frustration after spending the day acting on information provided by Edenfield. "He's made four, five or six different statements, all conflicting," Doering said. "If we didn't think there was some credence to it all, we wouldn't be here. How much? I don't know."
Following the arrest, Christopher's Grandma was asked whether the family still has hope Christopher is alive, she said: "Yes sir, we're holding on to that hope that he's alive and he's going to come home."
Police searched Edenfield's mobile home again Monday night, after his mother Peggy, told investigators the boy may still be alive, Doering said. Police found a piece of evidence related to Christopher's disappearance at the trailer, but investigators would not say what. Search teams plan to narrow their focus on a field and canal near the mobile home park.
Glynn County investigators questioned Edenfield's mother again early Tuesday morning. Then Peggy was arrested on charges of obstruction, after giving LE more conflicting stories, about what she knew about Christopher's disappearance. Everything from: he is alive, in the house, which brought LE to search the house again; to: she had taken him by the hand and walked him home, when she found him in her house, knowing it was against her son's parole to be alone with a minor, to: she had been forced to go with her husband and a friend to dispose of the body in the woods.
Glynn County Police Capt. Jim Nazzrie said; "She told law enforcement she thought she knew where Christopher may be, only to find she was intentionally leading them astray. "We have spent all day going back over five square miles," Nazzrie said. "The only information we've got from anyone out there has not panned out to be true. That's why we have the subject in custody, for hindering an investigation. They're not charged with a crime or a criminal act against Christopher, but it's one of these things, 'well I can show you where the body's at,' well, it's not here.'
Late Tuesday night, police in Glynn County received new information from two men claiming to know the location of Chris' body. Authorities brought in a helicopter with infrared technology and cadaver dogs to search an area about a mile down the road from where Chris was last seen, but nothing came of the search. Police then arrested David Edenfield and Donald Dale a family friend, for obstruction, after leading officers to a spot where they said the boy was buried near the mobile home park. They took them out to show them where the body was buried, but they could not locate the body," said Capt. Jim Nazzrie. "We still don't know whether they're just telling crazy lies or if they know something."
Thursday afternoon Chris's Grandmother, Sue Rodriguez, told reporters "My hopes jumped back up that he's alive and that we're gonna find our baby alive and he's gonna come back home. They haven't found no baby's body and as along as that's not so, I'm gonna continue to hope and pray that he's alive and that he's coming home."
Asked whether she believed the Edenfields and Dale knew where Christopher was, Rodriguez earlier said she thinks the four are "playing like they're crazy" in leading frustrated police around to different spots only to come up empty in their search. "I've begun thinking they are a little bit off but I think there's a lot playin' and this ain't no game," she said. She also said Chris had been warned to stay away from the Edenfield's house. She had told him they were bad people who would hurt him. In typical Chris style he replied "No they won't . They're nice to me."
Exactly one week after he was reported missing, Christopher was found. He had been dumped in a field near the Brunswick, GA airport, and was found there by a Department of Natural Resources officer involved in the search, police said. Just a couple miles away from his home. Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said he was the one who told Christopher's father the tragic news."That's the hardest time I've had to hold my composure," he said.
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said it was obvious the child had been slain, but would not say how. He escorted the boy's father, Mike Barrios, to view the scene where the boy's body was found, though the father did not view the body.
Carlos Barrios said in a statement for the family; "It's a big relief, really, to know the boy is found, even though he's dead. This way he can have a proper burial. Chris had been found covered with some sort of bag, like trash. He wasn't trash, he was a good kid. The family is pretty torn up right now." He also thanked all the volunteers and authorities who helped in the search.
24 hours after the body of Christopher was found, the family spoke about their feelings and reaction to the news their neighbors were responsible for his kidnapping and murder. They spoke of their love for their precious boy and his love of everyone. Listening to him say goodnight was something they all loved about him, the grieving family members said. They were angry they would never hear Christopher say those words again and they said that they want justice for the four people who police say were involved. "This family that's responsible for bringing this harm to my son. I just hope that they get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and they're shown no mercy, I want that the whole rest of their lives are miserable," Michael Barrios said. He said, he would be in court every step of the way through the prosecution, but for now they said they are just grieving and taking things one day at a time.
Now the boy who loved Spiderman will no longer play with his collection of action figure toys. That morning Mike had to pick out a casket for his son. "That was something I wasn't prepared to do, wasn't prepared to do that. My son's only six years old and he's going to be laying up there." Christopher Barrios Sr. is mourning and blaming himself, because he was at work when Christopher went missing. "I feel like if I were here, he'd still be here with me." Now the neighborhood cat Christopher adopted is without his little boy and a father is without his son.
While Christopher's family planned his funeral, the state of Georgia went forward with charges against the 4 people being held for Christopher's murder. The day of Chris's funeral was a beautiful day. The kind Christopher would have love to spend at the beach with his family. But the beauty was lost on the grief stricken family, as they put their baby boy down to rest one last time, forever.
The three Edenfields have remain jailed without bail on malice murder, kidnapping and child molestation charges. Mike Barrios has kept the promise that he made to his son. He has been to every hearing, every conference, every minute of the trial of David Edenfield. When they DA repeats the heartless words Edenfield spoke into the recorder during the Police interviews; Mike sits up and listens attentively. When the crime scene photos are presented into evidence; he doesn't look away. This was his baby boy's last hours of life. The life that was stolen by the monster on trial. As any parents would, Michael is sharing his baby's last moments. Even now, 2 years later Mike is taking the torture that was done to his son, trying to relieve the suffering his baby went through. Doing what he can to be there for his baby boy.
All three Edenfields are charged with
- kidnapping with bodily injury
- enticing a child for indecent purposes
- false imprisonment
- cruelty to children
- George and David Edenfield is also charged with aggravated child molestation
- Peggy Edenfield is charged with child molestation
All three and Dale are also charged with concealing the death of a person and tampering with evidence.
The state is seeking death for George and David Edenfield. In exchange for testifying against her husband and son, Peggy will be tried last and will not be sentenced to death or life w/o parole.
Dale pleaded guilty to his charges. Glynn County police had alleged that Dale helped hide the kindergartner's body after a family of three – David Edenfield, his wife, Peggy Edenfield, and their adult son, George Edenfield – allegedly kidnapped, molested and strangled Christopher Barrios, March 8, 2007.
The state has three months to place Dale in a facility selected by the Georgia Department of Human Resources. In the meantime, he will remain incarcerated at the Glynn County Detention Center.
The words that came out of the mouths of these people, hurt to listen to, there should be a law against thinking such things, let alone doing them to a 6 year old little boy. Stephen Kelley, Glynn County district attorney, said listening to the two hour tape of David Edenfield talking about the crimes was the worst two hours of his life. When the crime scene and autopsy pictures were handed to the jury most of them physically recoiled from the horror that the monsters bestowed upon his little body.
Through out the testimony given by Peggy Edenfield against her husband, she contradicted herself repeatedly. She said she couldn't remember things and she flat out lied about things.. To the credit of the jury seated and sequestered, they saw through all of it. They found David Edenfield guilty on all counts in just under two hours. Then they came back the next day, listened to hours of statements made to insure they understand the task in front of them. Of sending a man to his death.
They listened to Mike Barrios as he spoke from the broken heart of a father who will not see his child grow into manhood. He spoke of the times at the beach that they will never have again. Simple things like a trip to Walmart to pick out a toy, that made him so happy because it made his son happy. All that is lost.
They listened as Stephen Kelly spoke from his heart in closing arguments. His eyes welled up with tears as he struggled to get through his final words. Justice demands that the punishment fit the crime, and the only punishment fit for Christopher’s savage sexual assault and horrific, torturous murder is the death penalty, Kelley said.“But for one man’s cold heart, but for one man’s depraved mind, Christopher Barrios would be alive today,” he said Kelley reminded jurors of the evidence — including Edenfield’s own words in a recorded confession —
Through the trial, through the conviction through the penalty phase Edenfield sat with no emotion, just like the lack of emotion he showed Christopher on March 8, 2007.
The jury was out less then 2 hours again. When they came back with a death sentence.
Michael Barrios said they were grateful to all the volunteers who had helped search for his son, and lauded Glynn County police as well as Kelley and Johnson for their hard work bringing Edenfield to justice.
The parents of 6-year-old Christopher Barrios Jr. said Tuesday that their son is looking down from heaven and smiling after a jury recommended the death sentence for his killer in David Edenfield. We got him. He's got his deadline," said Michael Barrios, Christopher's father referring to Edenfield's death sentence recommendation.
Edenfield was the first of three people to be tried in Christopher's death. Edenfield's wife. Peggy, and his adult son George are also charged in the kidnapping and murder of the 6-year-old boy. Mike Barrios will be there for those trials too.
It was announced yesterday that the family of Christopher Barrios plans to file a civil suit against the SOAPnet Entertainment channel owned by Disney. Last year they displayed a portrait of Christopher as a prop with a story line of a child abandoned by his father on General Hospital; Night Shift.
Soapnet ran an apology following what they called an accident claiming they had no idea how it happened.
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