October 1999. Two men. One woman. Shot multiple times.
They were found by a neighbor in the forest near Bellemont off Forest Road 171. They were shot more times than needed to kill them. Some of the shots were fired after they were dead.
Their case remains unsolved.
“They wanted these people dead,” said Chuck Jones, investigator for the Coconino County cold case unit. The unit was formed several years ago to try to gain closure in more than 40 cold cases in the county.
Richard Barnes was found in a trailer at the campsite, Jones said. Lynn Patrick was found outside. On the perimeter of the camp, the body of Lynn’s boyfriend, Michael Alexander, was found face up on the pine needles of the forest floor. Barnes was a friend of the two.
The crime happened between a Saturday afternoon and a Sunday night.
A neighbor who lived nearby the camp, who had befriended Lynn, regularly took coffee with Lynn most mornings. It was Monday, Oct. 25
“She went by that morning,” Jones said. She found Lynn lying outside the trailer, and she immediately called 9-1-1.
There are no leads, but Jones said that it is likely more than one person had to be involved in the killing.
“It’s just a very dynamic scene,” Jones said. “There’s a lot going on ... and it’s probably dark, too.”
The sheer number of rounds fired based on numbers of times the victims were shot and the amount of casings found at the scene suggested the possibility of more than one shooter as well, Jones said. He did not want to specify the number of times the victims were shot, the number of casings found, or a few other details of the crime in the event the cold case unit comes across somebody who does know those details.
Jones added that the crime scene indicates that whoever did the shooting probably shot Alexander first. Then Lynn was shot. Sometime during the incident, Barnes stuck his head out of the door of the trailer and was shot.
The investigative team at the sheriff’s office did not turn up any physical evidence pointing to any possible suspects. Nothing appeared taken. The motive for the killing is unknown.
“Why did this happen?” Jones asked. “They’re just gunned down one night?”
Jones said that it is so rare that killings are made “just because.” And the three didn’t have possessions worth stealing. They were poor, living in the forest. Barnes, who had a drinking problem, had a job in Flagstaff. Alexander collected discarded pallets from the Navajo Army Depot. Lynn made dream catchers and sold them at local businesses.
Several people were interviewed, but no solid suspect information developed at the time.
Currently, Jones said that fingerprint evidence seized at the time of the crime is only now being analyzed. Witnesses are being reinterviewed. Some DNA evidence collected at the time of the crime is also being analyzed.
There may be a break in the case; there may not.
Even if suspect information is developed, the case will still be difficult to prove in court, Jones said. Investigators will have to reconstruct the crime scene and try to tie evidence to the suspect or suspects to the crime scene.
“I have an idea what may have happened,” Jones said. “But I’ve got to let the evidence take me where it’s going.”
If anybody has information about this case, contact the sheriff’s office cold case division at 774-4523, or visit the Cold Case Facebook page.
Larry Hendricks can be reached at 556-2262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.