Manhunt is over for murder suspect in Transylvania County

The Transylvania County Sherriff’s Office took murder suspect Joseph Wayne Barker into custody at approx. 1:40 p.m. today after an over 30-hour search. TCSO Captain Jeremy Queen said Barker was apprehended in the Rosman area between new Highway 64 and old Highway 64. He said the search included multiple agencies, helicopters, drones, roadblocks, house-to-house searches, and manpower.

Pictured at the top of the article is John Barker. Photo courtesy of Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.

“It was boots on the ground and good old-fashioned police work,” said Queen. “But it was a tough search. With the terrain in that area, the foliage can get pretty thick and it was a lot of ground to cover.”

Blue Ridge School was on soft lockdown during the over-daylong search on April 25.

Blue Ridge School was on soft lockdown during the over-daylong search.

“Blue Ridge School & BREC will be on a soft lockdown today due to a manhunt in the area between Rosman and Cashiers. School activities will proceed as usual indoors, and safety protocols will be followed while loading cars and buses,” said BREC’s Facebook page earlier this afternoon. “Students on a field trip today will be indoors and under cover and accompanied by faculty and administration.”

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Major Shannon Queen said the soft lockdown at BRS/BREC was a precaution.

“Blue Ridge was on a soft lockdown as protocol when something unknown is in the area,” he said.

Once Barker was apprehended, BREC released the all clear via social media.

Barker is suspected of murdering his wife after Catawba County Communications received a call at 10:34 p.m. on April 23 from a third party alleging that a family member was being held at gunpoint in their home on the 4700 block of Plateau Road in the southwestern area of Catawba County.

The caller reported that Barker had his wife, Crystal Barker, 43, barricaded in a room in their home with a gun. Deputies and Catawba County Special Tactics and Response Teams responded and found Crystal deceased and Barker had already fled the scene in a Toyota Camry, which was found wrecked and abandoned on Highway 64 outside of Rosman in Transylvania County.

Multiple agencies participated in the manhunt, including the Transylvania County Sherriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, State Bureau of Investigation, N.C. State Highway Patrol, along with other local emergency and service agencies.

Catawba County Sherriff’s Deputies and the Sherriff’s Office Special Enforcement Group were also deployed to aid in the search. TCSO Sherriff Donald Brown said it was a combined effort that lead to apprehending Barker.

“I would like to send a huge thank you to the Transylvania County Sherriff’s Office, US Marshals Service, SBI, NCSHP, and all of the agencies involved in the search for Joseph Barker,” said Brown. “They all worked tirelessly through the night and day to find Joseph Barker and bring him to justice.”

Capt. Queen said Barker will first be transported to the TCSO and then moved to CCSO.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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