March 16, 2007
Missing Boy Found Dead in Ga.
By RUSS BYNUM
BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A week of searching for a missing 6-year-old in coastal Georgia ended with heartbreak for the boy's father and dozens of police and volunteers who looked for the youngster.
The body of Christopher Barrios was found Thursday afternoon, stuffed in a black plastic trash bag by the side of a road three miles from his Glynn County trailer park.
"You suspected all along in your heart, it's just not the outcome you want," said volunteer searcher Mari Charnock, who dabbed at tears after the boy was found dead. "At least we know, though. At least it's over."
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said he escorted the boy's father, Mike Barrios, to the scene to see the body at the father's request.
"That was the hardest part," Doering said. "When it's your only son that has been killed and you want to go look for the last time, that's tough."
Many of the volunteers, several wearing T-shirts printed with the boy's photo, hugged and sobbed as Doering broke the news.
Cpl. Jesse Cook of the Department of Natural Resources and his colleague, Sgt. John Harwell, were aiding in the search and spotted tire tracks on the road curving off toward the tree line. They pulled over and saw the trash bag among the trees and brush about 15 feet from the road. They alerted detectives when they got close enough to notice flies and a strong odor coming from the bag.
"It was obvious," Cook said. "But if you weren't looking for it, you probably would've thought it was just a trash bag."
Police had spent days chasing false tips from four suspects they arrested earlier in the week, including a convicted child molester who lived in the same mobile home park where Christopher was last seen playing alone on a swing set the evening of March 8.
Doering said he expects to charge all four with Christopher's murder. The boy had obviously been slain, Doering said, but he would not elaborate.
Christopher lived with his father in a trailer park of about 50 homes huddled around a narrow, U-shaped road just outside Brunswick, a Georgia port city 60 miles south of Savannah. He often stayed with his grandmother, whose trailer sat about 200 feet from his father's home.
Earlier this week, police arrested 32-year-old George David Edenfield, who lived with his parents across the street from the boy's grandmother, after Edenfield told investigators he played a role in the boy's abduction.
Edenfield was charged with violating his probation from a 1997 child molestation conviction, which prohibited him from contact with children under 18.
His parents, David and Peggy Edenfield, were also arrested after giving police conflicting statements on where they might find the boy. They were charged with lying to police and obstruction for initially telling police they knew nothing about the boy's disappearance.
The same charge was brought against a family friend, Donald Dale. Dale and David Edenfield told investigators they had buried the boy's body.
Police spent several days looking for Christopher within a mile of the trailer park, far from where he was found Thursday, based on false leads culled from conflicting stories from the four that alternately suggested the boy was alive and then dead.
After two days of searching the same patch of woods a quarter-mile from the trailer park, where two of the suspects said they had buried the boy, police expanded their search area Thursday. They found the body by late afternoon.