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Mourners remember gunman's wife as soccer mom, Scout leader

Leighann Barton casket
Leigh Ann Barton's life was celebrated in Lizella, her hometown  
Excerpts from the letter found in the Barton family living room

Notes left with bodies

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Atlanta shootings
Images of the Atlanta shootings
Georgia investigator: Enough evidence to arrest Barton for 1993 killings

Atlanta chief: Office shooter had firepower for more carnage

August 1, 1999
Web posted at: 10:15 p.m. EDT (0215 GMT)

In this story:

Minister describes gunman as 'evil'

State's worst mass killing this century

Funeral set for Barton children on Monday

Atlanta copes with wave of violence


LIZELLA, Georgia (CNN) -- Mourners packed a church in middle Georgia on Sunday for the funeral of Leigh Ann Barton, the first of 12 victims killed by her husband during a deadly rampage last week.

Leigh Ann Barton, 27, was remembered as a soccer mom and Girl Scout leader by hundreds of family and friends at a red-brick church in her hometown of Lizella, a tiny farm community about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Atlanta.

The service turned tearful when a letter from her sister Dana Reeves was read to the congregation.

"We should have been two ladies in a shoe, for we had a love of children and we should have had a dozen apiece," Reeves said in her letter.

The Rev. Doug Davis told the mourners that Leigh Ann was "a soccer mom to Matthew and a Girl Scout leader for Mychelle." She also taught Sunday school.

"I'm afraid there's a temptation to become focused on the horrible events of last week," he said at the Lizella Baptist Church. "If we give into that temptation, we do a great disservice to Leigh Ann."

Minister describes gunman as 'evil'

The minister described her husband, Mark O. Barton, as "evil," telling mourners, "God's love is stronger than any sickness that Mark Barton or any other evil can dish out."

Huge bouquets of pink carnations and roses overwhelmed the church and overflowed onto the steps leading to the sanctuary. Friends inside wept softly as Leigh Ann's body arrived in a white casket about 40 minutes before the service began.

Her body was taken to a family grave site at the Old Valley Grove Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery near Ocilla, another rural community.

State's worst mass killing this century

Mark Barton, 44, killed his wife with a hammer Tuesday night in her suburban apartment south of Atlanta. On Wednesday, he bludgeoned to death his two children from a previous marriage. He left notes confessing his actions.

He fatally shot nine people and wounded 13 others the following day in two brokerage firms in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead district.

Hours later he killed himself when cornered by police, bringing the death toll to 13. The string of murders is the state's worst mass killing this century.

Nine of the wounded remained hospitalized Sunday, three in critical condition.

A memorial service for shooting victim Vadewattee Muradlidhara was planned for Sunday afternoon in Peachtree City, a suburban enclave south of Atlanta. She will be buried in her home country, Trinidad.

Funeral set for Barton children on Monday

A funeral will be held Monday for Barton's children, Matthew, 11, and Mychelle, 7. A viewing was to be held on Sunday in Lithia Springs, a suburb west of Atlanta.

They will buried beside their mother, Debra, and maternal grandmother, Eloise Spivey, who were killed on an Alabama camping trip in 1993. Mark Barton was the chief suspect in those murders, but was never charged.

Barton's lawyer said Sunday that he approved some changes to his will Thursday morning, a few hours before the shootings.

Matthew Barton
Matthew Barton
Mychelle Barton
Mychelle Barton  

He gave no indication that he had already killed his wife and children, said Douglasville attorney Joe Fowler.

"He looked in all respects normal, just like any other time he came into my office," said Fowler of Barton, a chemist turned day trader who lost tens of thousands of dollars in recent weeks.

Leigh Ann Barton's relatives, looking at photos and videos, see images of a normal family man: Barton cooking a Thanksgiving turkey, riding a roller coaster with his children, and serving as an usher at a family wedding.

Despite those appearances, Reeves said she had been wary of Barton since learning about the Alabama slayings.

"There was never really a comfortable feeling with him after that," she said.

Reeves said her sister, worried for her safety, left her husband in October. She had been frustrated because she supported the family for about a year while Barton was jobless, Reeves said.

Reeves said her sister allowed Barton to move into her apartment in a reconciliation attempt a few weeks ago because she missed the children.

"I'm sorry that it happened to my sister, but I'm not surprised. I've felt that this has been coming for a couple of years," Reeves said.

Details of Barton's funeral have not been released.

Atlanta copes with wave of violence

In their regular services on Sunday, many Atlanta area churches addressed violence in the community. Since late May, deadly episodes have left 23 dead and 20 injured in the metro area.

At the Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta, Mayor Bill Campbell said "our city is in crisis."

"It's almost unimaginable the horror, the tragedy we've endured just in the last two weeks," Campbell said, referring to another mass killing two weeks ago in which seven were killed.

Funerals for the victims began on Friday, with a service for Allen Charles Tenenbaum, 48. On Saturday, mourners gathered for a funeral for Dean Delawalla, 52.

Correspondent Charles Zewe and Reuters contributed to this report.

Atlanta chief: Office shooter had firepower for more carnage
July 31, 1999
Memories of those who died: They loved travel, fly-fishing
July 31, 1999
Fatalities in the Atlanta shootings
July 30, 1999
Shooter lost $105,000 in month, but motive still a mystery
July 30, 1999
Atlanta gunman remained suspect in '93 Alabama killings
July 30, 1999
Suicide of Atlanta shooting suspect ends 'unspeakable day'
July 29, 1999


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