Maureen Barton said that it’s hard to talk about, and that she doesn’t even talk about it at her workplace anymore, but the thoughts and hopes are always with her that one day her 30-year-old son, Brian Barton, will come walking through her front door.
March 10 marked the fifth year since anyone has seen or heard from Barton, who was 25 when he went missing from Federal Way, Washington, which is located between Seattle and Tacoma.
Barton graduated from Buena Vista High School in 1997 and at age 21 moved near Seattle to submerge himself in the music culture and become part of a band, Maureen said.
She said he established a life there and had a job, a girlfriend, and was part of the punk rock band, “As Fate Would Have it,” that had recently signed a record contract before Barton went missing.
Maureen described her son as having lots of friends and a close relationship with his two brothers – one of whom was in college at the time Barton went missing – and the other who lived nearby and was planning on getting married on Barton’s birthday.
Then Barton’s parents received the call that their son had gone missing.
“All of the sudden on March 10 my husband and I came home from work and we had a phone call on the machine from his girlfriend,” said Maureen Barton. “His girlfriend had reported Brian missing to the Federal Way Police Department.”
“He had gone to work, cashed a check, and gone to an appointment. She [Barton’s girlfriend] said she talked to him during his workday – he went to his appointment and nobody had seen him since. All of his personal belongings were left behind – his car, wallet, cell phone, and car keys were left at home,” Maureen said.
Maureen said that her husband called the police that same night, but was told that since Barton was 25 years old he could take off when he wanted, philosophizing that he may have wanted to start a new life or take off from friends.
“We were very upset,” said Maureen. “We knew he wouldn’t do it.”
Officer Raymond Bunk, a spokesman with the Federal Way Police Department said that the department’s policy doesn’t put an adult into the system if there is no history of a medical or mental condition, or a suspicion noted at the scene, such as blood on the floor.
“If you’re over 18, you’re allowed to take off,” he said in a phone interview May 7. “First and foremost we understand sometimes adults want to leave the situation they’re in.”
Bunk said an example of that might be a domestic abuse situation that someone wanted to get away from.
In Barton’s case, however, after the initial call in mid-March, Bunk said it was considered suspicious.
“It looks like we did do a police report at that time but there was not enough [evidence] to go further and put a detective on the case,” he said.
Maureen and her family began their own search to find their son.
“My husband went up a week later after he went missing and put up posters with his friends,” she said. “I went up the beginning of April and hired a private investigator. My sister and I met with the public safety officer, put up more posters, and met with his friends.”
Maureen said she had postcards made out and sent them all over to police departments and churches and bars.
“I got on the Internet and found a bunch of places that host bands, mostly in the Washington area, but have sent some to New York, and sent them to wherever I feel there are a lot of people,” she said.
By nine weeks into Brian’s disappearance, there had still been no sightings or trace of him anywhere.
Maureen said that up until that point in time her son’s bank account had not had any activity, and that there was money in it from a recent income tax return.
However, at the nine-week point, some suspicious activity was found and the Federal Way Police Department had a reason to request a polygraph on two people.
See the next issue (May 20, 2010) of the Village News for Part II of this story. To read part II of this story, go to http://www.thevillagenews.com/story/47952
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