Soldier killed in apparent insurance scheme to be buried

AMHERST, Ohio -- Lillian Barnes plans Friday to bury her third son -- listed for nearly nine years as an army deserter but now thought to be a murder victim in an apparent insurance fraud scheme.

The body of Pvt. Kenneth Barnes arrived at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Monday night, accompanied by a military honor guard, and memorial services are set for Friday.


Barnes, 19, disappeared from Ft. Gordon, Ga. in November 1972, and was listed by the Armyas a deserter.

But Barnes' body was found in April of this year in Augusta, Ga., in the grave of a man who has since been found alive and charged with murder in what authorities think was an insurance fraud scheme.

'It was hard to look at that big box and realize that there was so little inside it,' Mrs. Barnes said after seeing her son's casket arrive. 'I felt happy he was home, but sort of dead inside.'

The young soldier's death is just the latest tragedy to strike the family. In June 1967, Kenneth's brother, Ralph, died of cancer at age 10. A month later, another brother, Norman, 15, drowned while swimming near the family home.


'I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever know happiness again,' Mrs. Barnes said. 'Right now, there is just emptiness, but I guess that is part of life.'

Mrs. Barnes and her husband have two more children, Frank, who lives in Loveland, Colo., and Karen Marie Whaley, who lives in Amherst.

Charged in Kenneth's death was John H. Owens, supposedly killed in a flaming automobile wreck in 1972.


Charged in Kenneth's death was John H. Owens, supposedly killed in a flaming automobile wreck in 1972.

Owens, however, was found living in Deland, Fla., last March and has been indicted for murder, along with his wife, Nellie, and Robert McMahon, a soldier who was stationed at Ft. Gordon when Barnes disappeared.

Barnes' body was ordered exhumed in April but it wasn't until last week that pathologists were able to confirm the identity.

Barnes' father, Norman, plans to attend Owens' trial in Augusta, where Owens is in jail, but Mrs. Barnes said she will not.

pickup14thgraf: '

Mrs. Barnes said her husband's trip would be financed by funds offered by several people who have approached the family since the story surfaced several months ago.

Latest Headlines