July 29, 1999: 12 Dead After Mark O. Barton's Georgia Killing Spree


Mark Orrin Barton, or Mark "O" Barton, was a spree killer who killed 12 people and injured 13 others on July 29, 1999. Like many spree killers, it started at his home before he moved onto another place of importance to him, his former employer. It is believed that his motive was financial loss in the months leading up to the murders. He committed suicide before the police apprehended him.

When the police searched his home, they found his second wife, along with his 2 children from a previous marriage dead from hammer blows. He placed the children, ages 8 and 11, on the bed as if they were asleep. He had killed his wife on July 27, his children on July 28, and continued and completed the spree on July 29.

Before he decided to take his anger out on 12 innocent people, he was a suspect in the beating deaths of his first wife and her mother, but he denied any involvement and was never formally charged. Though in the letter he left with the bodies of his children he continued to deny it, police believe he still did it. (Not really a good selling point to say you didn't kill your wife via a letter next to your dead children.)


On April 2, 1955, the world gained a man named Mark Barton of Stockbridge, Georgia. He was born to an Air Force family and was raised in South Carolina. He attended both Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, earning a degree in chemistry while keeping up with a drug habit.

He met and married his first wife, Debra Spivey, and had 2 children with her named Matthew and Mychelle. When his job required relocation, the family moved to Alabama. But at that point, he began to be paranoid and stopped trusting his wife. He lost his job and then served jail time for sabotaging the data of his ex-company. But, he found a new job and a woman to have an affair with, his wife's friend Leigh Ann Vandiver.

In 1993, Debra and her mother, Eloise, were bludgeoned to death. While Mark was the prime suspect, he was never formally charged due to lack of evidence. In 1995, he married his murdered wife's friend Leigh Ann as his mental health deteriorated with bouts of depression and paranoid delusions.

Before the murder spree, Barton received a $294,000 insurance settlement from his first wife's death. He used the funds to support a day trading career. However, the month before he would kill 12 people, he lost $105,000 and Momentum Securities cancelled his day trading account.

And so, on July 27, 1999, Mark woke up early in the morning and bludgeoned his wife to death in her sleep. It is not clear what happened the remainder of that day or the following day, but the next night, he beat his 8 and 11 year old children to death, as well, covering their bodies with blankets. He left notes on their bodies, one excerpt reading:

I killed Leigh Ann because she was one of the main reasons for my demise. ... I know that Jehovah will take care of all of them in the next life. I'm sure the details don't matter. There is no excuse, no good reason I am sure no one will understand. If they could I wouldn't want them to. I just write these things to say why. Please know that I love Leigh Ann, Matthew and Mychelle with all my heart. If Jehovah's willing I would like to see them all again in the resurrection to have a second chance. I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction.

To finish his 3-day murder spree, and his goal of killing people who "sought his destruction", he went to the office of his former employer, Momentum Securities, and briefly chatted with some former coworkers before pulling out 2 guns and opening fire in the building. He shot and killed 4 people right off the bat, and then walked into the All-Tech Investment Group building and killed another 5 before the police arrived.

Once the police were called, some were dispatched to his home while others went to the scene. At his home, they found his murdered wife and children. In the notes left with the children's bodies, he vehemently denied his involvement in his first wife and mother-in-law's death.

A manhunt ensued after the shooting. 4 hours after the last victim was shot, Mark accosted and threatened a young girl to secure a hostage for his planned escape. However, she escaped herself and called the police. A car chase ensued, but when law enforcement approached him to arrest him, he shot and killed himself.

The 12 victims are as follows:

  • Leigh Ann Vandiver Barton, 27 // Barton's wife

  • Matthew David Barton, 11 // Barton's son

  • Mychelle Elizabeth Barton, 8 // Barton's daughter

  • Allen Charles Tenenbaum, 48 // All-Tech Investment Group day trader

  • Dean Delawalla, 52 // All-Tech Investment Group day trader

  • Joseph J. Dessert, 60 // All-Tech Investment Group day trader

  • Jamshid Havash, 45 // All-Tech Investment Group day trader

  • Vadewattee Muralidhara, 44 // computer student at All-Tech Investment Group

  • Edward Quinn, 58 // Momentum Securities Group day trader

  • Kevin Dial, 38 // Momentum Securities office manager

  • Russel J. Brown, 42 // Momentum Securities Group day trader

  • Scott A Webb, 30 // Momentum Securities Group day trader

Murder sprees, yes, primarily by white men, are almost so cookie cutter at this point. They typically start at their home, or the home of a loved one. And then, they go somewhere they felt they were wronged. Be it a sorority house full of women who didn't want to have sex with them or an office that no longer wanted to work with them, men like this take their rage out on innocent people who they presume to be guilty. Hey, newsflash, your wife, adolescent and pre-adolescent children and 9 different people at 2 different companies are not responsible for your demise. People get fired and lose money every single day. They don't all slaughter their families and former colleagues.

To do something like this is obviously a testament to poor mental health and access to guns, but also just male rage. Though women certainly do go on killing sprees, it is far more common for a male to do such a thing. Depression and certain mental health issues are actually more common in women, and yet, men are far more likely to take such extreme, violent measures. Sure, had his mental health been treated, this probably wouldn't have happened. If he didn't have access to various guns, the carnage may been less. But also, if he wasn't just filled with rage, and didn't blame people who had nothing to do with his failures for said failures, the innocent people would be alive, as well.

Mark O. Barton is just one of so many people who decided to solve a problem with a murder spree. 12 people, including 2 children, dead, and most people (including me before preparing for this story) have never even heard of him. Because this type of behavior is sadly very common.

21 years ago, 12 people lost their lives because a man didn't know how to deal with financial loss and anger, and decided to take it out on innocent people who were adjacent to his troubles. Mark Barton was not the first to "solve" his problems like this, and unfortunately, won't be the last.


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_O._Barton

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