Second in a two-day series
Who was Derrick Barnett and what was the connection, if any, between him and Mike and Nora Dimuria, found murdered in their Red Lakes home north of Williams May 1?
The answer to the second question hasn't emerged. Barnett, arrested on two counts of first-degree murder, is in a Colorado jail and isn't talking.
The answer to the first emerges from court records and talking with Barnett’s former girlfriend of 12 years and mother of his three children. She described him as an emotionally unstable substance abuser with a violent streak.
Barnett’s legal troubles began in 2005 when he was charged in Grand Junction, Colo., on felony counts of second-degree burglary and criminal mischief, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.
He was found guilty of the burglary charge that caused over $15,000 in damages, according to reports.
He was sentenced to four years of probation for the crime.
According to his former girlfriend Breawna Wilkins, Barnett had gone on a “drinking binge” and vandalized parts of the Colorado Mesa University Amphitheater.
This first arrest came at the start of an on-again, off-again relationship between Barnett and Wilkins that spanned 12 years, three kids, and multiple convictions for Mike and Nora Dimuria’s accused killer.
May 2013 was a turning point for the couple’s relationship, according to Wilkins.
Barnett began shooting methamphetamine and physically abusing Wilkins -- one incident lead to a felony assault conviction.
“He beat me up in 2013 and I almost lost my son,” Wilkins said.
That incident resulted in broken ribs, a fractured shinbone and a concussion, according to Wilkins.
In May 2014 Barnett was convicted of felony stalking after he began constantly waiting for Wilkins and calling her office, where she worked as a benefits eligibility technician in Mesa County.
Barnett was convicted of being a habitual offender of domestic violence in 2015.
After his 2015 conviction, Wilkins said that Barnett genuinely tried to better himself.
“No drugs, no infidelity, no jealousy and no abuse,” Wilkins said. “He started to be a great father for his kids.”
Posts from Barnett’s Facebook account show that in the three months before April he was upbeat. He began posting pictures of tattoo sketches he had drawn and posting scripture.
“His love endures forever. Psalms 136,” Barnett posted on Feb. 5. “Waking up and seeing the bright beautiful blue sky. Thank you Lord for another day of sobriety. Life is good. God is an artist.”
However, as the months went on Wilkins said that Barnett once again began to be abusive and Barnett’s public and private personas changed rapidly.
“In public he was sweet, loyal and religious. He was like the big brother, the protector,” Wilkins said. “But in private he was jealous and violent -- he was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
April 7 was the last time Wilkins saw Barnett. Wilkins said Barnett kicked down her door and began to strangle her before leaving abruptly.
Wilkins called police and Barnett has an outstanding warrant for assault by strangulation, according to Dolores Sheriff’s Office.
It is unclear why Barnett was in Williams when he allegedly shot and killed Mike and Nora Dimuria on May 1 at their isolated home in Red Lake north of town.
According to Wilkins, Barnett was hiding in Williams, where his father and grandmother both live.
Wilkins also said that Barnett’s father attempted to turn him in to police, according to a conversation she had with Barnett’s mother.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office did not confirm why Barnett was in the area.
Barnett’s family, whose names have been withheld because they are not charged with a crime, did not respond to a request for comment on Wilkins’ account of events before Barnett's arrest.
Despite her experience with Barnett, Wilkins said she was surprised that he was potentially responsible for a double homicide.
“I always thought he would kill me,” Wilkins said. “But I never thought he would have the ability to hurt two grandparents. He was always nice to everyone else. I just feel like this could have been prevented.”
Wilkins also said that her heart goes out to Mike and Nora Dimuria’s family.
I am so very, very sorry for your loss,” Wilkins said as she sobbed over the phone. “You are in my prayers.”