Archive for Wednesday, August 18, 1999

DEATH

August 18, 1999

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Galen Barger was found dead 15 months ago in Lawrence, and his mother is offering a reward for information about what happened to him.

A Wichita woman wants to know the story behind her son's death in Lawrence last year and is willing to pay for it.

Diana Barger, who thinks foul play was involved in the death of her son Galen, is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever -- if anyone -- is responsible.

A neighbor found Barger's 28-year-old son dead May 7, 1998, at his apartment in the 1400 block of Eddingham, Barger said Monday.

"She (the neighbor) had not heard from him for a couple of days and knocked on his door," Barger, a Wichita attorney, said, fighting back tears during a telephone interview. "The door came open. He was face down on the floor inside the door."

Cuts and abrasions covered her son's face. That, Barger said, is why she thinks her son's death was suspicious. Barger said she saw her son May 5, and "his face looked perfectly clear. He was healthy and in good spirits. There were no cuts and bruises on his face."

Sgt. George Wheeler of the Lawrence Police Department said the autopsy proved inconclusive. Police have labeled the case an unattended death. A detective still is assigned to the case, Wheeler said.

There was blood within the fat along the intestines, which could be evidence of trauma, according to the autopsy.

"Physical trauma to the retroperitoneal viscera (abdominal structures) would require a great deal of force, usually not found in incidental falls, though possibly the result of accidental injury in an intoxicated state," the autopsy report says. "There remains the possibility that the constellation of injury is related to assault."

Wheeler said it's possible Barger, who had alcohol and cocaine in his system, could have fallen or could have been in a fight.

Barger doesn't believe her son fell.

"It was warm weather, and he had a short-sleeve shirt on," she said. "There were no cuts or bruises or abrasions on his hands or arms. It doesn't make sense. If you're going to fall to the point where . . . you've got cuts on your face, aren't you going to put your hands out to catch yourself?"

Galen Barger owned a T-shirt print shop, Xero Point, his mother said, and had lived in Lawrence about two years.

Diane Barger said she has an idea of who might have killed her son but declined to go into detail about her suspicions.

She recently began advertising the reward.

"I should have done it a long time ago, and I know it," she said. "I wish I would have done it a year ago."

She asks anyone with information to call her at 1-800-346-5533.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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