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Man, 36, charged with murder after confessing to killing his mother, 72, and dismembering her body 

Robert Barnes, 36, was charged with murder and tampering with a corpse in the death of his 72-year-old mother Lucila

A Texas man with a long rap sheet confessed to killing his elderly mother and dismembering her body, which authorities found stuffed inside a plywood crate he’d built a month earlier for the purpose of storing her remains.

Robert Barnes, 36, is being held on $650,000 bail on charges of murder and tampering with the corpse of his 72-year-old mother Lucila Barnes. When Barnes’ concerned sister came to try and see her last Wednesday, he allegedly threatened the woman with an AK rifle to get her to leave. 

Lucila’s body was discovered the following day, and Barnes was arrested.  

On Friday, a Harris County judge read out court documents in which Barnes confessed to shooting his mother multiple times, mutilating her and stuffing her into the box at their family home.

Barnes has a lengthy criminal record dating back to at least 2003, according to Houston station KHOU

Before the murder, he was out on probation after he refused to pay his bill at the $240-a-night Hotel ZaZa in Houston’s Museum District. Investigators found him lying on his hotel room bed holding a knife.

Family members say they went to the Barnes’ home at 11127 Cactus Point Court sometime on Wednesday because they hadn’t heard from Lucila since Tuesday. 

In a court hearing Friday, a Houston judge said that Barnes had confessed to the grisly killing

In a court hearing Friday, a Houston judge said that Barnes had confessed to the grisly killing

Barnes dismembered Lucila's body and put it inside a crate in the garage of their home, above

Barnes dismembered Lucila’s body and put it inside a crate in the garage of their home, above

Relatives said they checked in on 72-year-old Lucila Barnes, above in her high school senior picture, on Wednesday after not hearing from her since Tuesday

Relatives said they checked in on 72-year-old Lucila Barnes, above in her high school senior picture, on Wednesday after not hearing from her since Tuesday

‘It also did stand out to me that when her sister went to check on her, he came out with an AK rifle and told them to leave and that he had taken his mother to the airport,’ the magistrate judge said Friday.

‘He tried to tell the officers the same thing but then couldn’t say what airport.’

The relatives called the authorities Wednesday evening, according to KPRC

Sgt. Jason Brown of the Harris County Sherriff’s Office said Barnes ‘actually brandished a firearm outside the residence and was not cooperative with investigators when they first arrived on scene.’

'It also did stand out to me that when her sister went to check on her, he came out with an AK rifle and told them to leave and that he had taken his mother to the airport,' the judge said

‘It also did stand out to me that when her sister went to check on her, he came out with an AK rifle and told them to leave and that he had taken his mother to the airport,’ the judge said

‘And [he] wouldn’t let anybody else inside the house. That’s what led the deputies to eventually get a search warrant to go inside the house.’

Deputies said they found a lot of blood in the home, but saw no signs of Lucila until they checked the garage. 

Authorities say it’s not clear when or why Barnes killed his mother, though the family says they heard from her on Tuesday.

A neighbor told a local station: ‘We’d just see her out gardening and lawns and that kind of stuff.’

Barnes was on probation at the time of the killing for not leaving a Houston hotel and refusing to pay in 2019. Authorities later found him in bed holding a knife

Barnes was on probation at the time of the killing for not leaving a Houston hotel and refusing to pay in 2019. Authorities later found him in bed holding a knife

On Friday, Barnes also confessed to making the crate his mother’s remains were found in a month ago.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez called the case ‘sad and horrific’ on Twitter. 

As a condition of his bail, which he has not yet posted, Barnes was ordered not to contact his family, to surrender any travel documents and to wear a GPS ankle monitor while under house arrest until his next court date.

Barnes, who has an eight-year-old child, has a history of run-ins with the law in Houston and in neighboring Fort Bend County.

In 2003, he pled guilty to theft of a firearm, according to KHOU, and in 2004, he was found guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. 

In 2016, he grabbed a woman’s hair, forced his fingers inside her mouth to keep her quiet and pointed a pocket knife at her, according to court documents.

He was convicted of unlawful restraint. 

In 2019, Barnes was arrested after he refused to leave Hotel ZaZa after not paying his bill. Investigators found him on his hotel room bed with a knife. 

He was given 16 months probation for that case earlier this year.


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