Mark Orrin Barton (April 2, 1955 – July 29, 1999) was a spree killer from Stockbridge, Georgia, USA who, on July 29, 1999, killed 12 people and injured 13 more. The shootings occurred at two Atlanta day trading firms, Momentum Securities and the All-Tech Investment Group. It is believed that Barton, a daytrader, was motivated by US$105,000 in losses over the previous two months. Four hours after the Atlanta shootings, Barton committed suicide at a gas station in Acworth, Georgia. He had been spotted by police and was ordered to stop, but shot and killed himself before the police could reach him.
Following the shootings, police searching Barton’s home found that his second wife, Leigh Ann Vandiver Barton, and two children, Matthew David Barton (12) and Mychelle Elizabeth Barton (10), had been murdered by hammer blows before the shooting spree. The children had then been placed in bed, as if sleeping. According to a note Barton left at the scene, his wife was killed July 27 and the children murdered July 28.
Prior to the massacre, Barton had been a suspect in the 1993 beating deaths of his first wife, Debra Spivey, and her mother, Eloise Spivey, in Cherokee County, Alabama. Although he was never charged for either of the crimes, and though the note he left with the bodies of his children and his second wife denied any involvement in the 1993 murders, he is still considered a suspect in those murders by authorities.
Barton was born on April 2, 1955, in Stockbridge, Georgia, to an Air Force family, and was raised in South Carolina. Barton attended Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, where he earned a degree in chemistry despite his ongoing drug habit. Back in Atlanta, Georgia, he married Debra Spivey, and had two children, Matthew and Mychelle.
The family moved to Alabama due to Barton’s job. He became paranoid and started distrusting his wife. He lost his job when his work performance started to suffer. In retaliation, he was caught sabotaging company data and served a short jail term.
Back in Georgia, Barton got a new job and began an affair with Leigh Ann Vandiver, one of his wife Debra’s acquaintances. In 1993, Debra Spivey and her mother Eloise were bludgeoned to death. Barton was the prime suspect but was not charged due to lack of evidence.
Barton married Leigh Ann in 1995 but his mental health continued to deteriorate and he began to suffer from severe depression and paranoid delusions.
Barton had received a large insurance settlement from his first wife’s death, but subsequently lost it in an extended bout of risky day trading. It is speculated that Barton planned his massacre after experiencing severe stress from losing $105,000 in a single month.
On July 27, 1999, Barton woke up early in the morning and bludgeoned Leigh Ann to death as she slept. The next night, he also beat his children Matthew and Mychelle to death. He covered them with blankets and left notes on their bodies, reading in part:
“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.”
On July 29, he went to the offices of his employer, Momentum Securities. Witnesses say that Barton briefly chatted with coworkers before suddenly pulling out two pistols and opening fire. He shot and killed four people and attempted to execute Brad Schoemehl, who was shot three times at point blank range. Barton then walked to the nearby All-Tech Investment Group building and murdered an additional five victims. Barton then left the scene before police could arrive.
The police searched his house and found the bodies of his family and the notes that he had left with them, in which Barton vehemently denied responsibility of the deaths of his first wife and mother-in-law.
An intensive manhunt ensued. Four hours after the All-Tech Investment Group shooting, Barton accosted and threatened a young girl in Kennesaw, Georgia, apparently attempting to secure a hostage for his escape. The attempt was unsuccessful and the young girl called police after escaping Barton. Responding police officers spotted Barton in his van and a chase ensued, culminating at a gas station in Acworth, Georgia. Unable to escape, Barton ducked behind his van and committed suicide with his pistol, the 13th victim of his killing spree.
The following is a list of victims of the murders:
- Leigh Ann Vandiver Barton, 27, wife of Mark Barton
- Matthew David Barton, 11, son of Mark Barton
- Mychelle Elizabeth Barton, 8, daughter of Mark Barton
- Allen Charles Tenenbaum, 48, daytrader at All-Tech Investment Group
- Dean Delawalla, 52, daytrader at All-Tech Investment Group
- Joseph J. Dessert, 60, daytrader at All-Tech Investment Group
- Jamshid Havash, 45, daytrader at All-Tech Investment Group
- Vadewattee Muralidhara, 44, took a computer course at All-Tech Investment Group
- Edward Quinn, 58, daytrader at Momentum Securities
- Kevin Dial, 38, office manager at Momentum Securities
- Russell J. Brown, 42, daytrader at Momentum Securities
- Scott A. Webb, 30, daytrader at Momentum Securities