Marlon Barber Jr., 15, with his 1-year-old brother, Shannon. (Courtesy Telegraph-Herald)

Marlon Barber Jr., 15, with his 1-year-old brother, Shannon. (Courtesy Telegraph-Herald)

Marlon Terrell Barber, Jr.


Marlon Terrell Barber, Jr.
15 YOA
2000 block of Jackson St.
Dubuque, Iowa
Dubuque County
October 20, 2012


On Oct. 20, 2012, Marlon Barber, Jr., a 15-year-old Dubuque teen, was shot in the chest and stomach as he and his friends walked away from a party. He died soon after in the hospital. Another teen was hit by gunfire but treated at a hospital and released.

Police responded to the 2000 block of Jackson Street Saturday night, just before midnight. At the scene, officers found 15-year-old Marlon Barber Jr., of 920 1/2 West Fifth Street, Dubuque, on the ground suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Dubuque County in Iowa
Dubuque County in Iowa
Dubuque in Dubuque CountyDubuque in Dubuque County

16-year-old Demarcus Timmons, also of Dubuque, was in the 2100 block of Washington Street. He, too, had gunshot wounds.

Barber died early Sunday morning while in surgery.

There have been no arrests or charges filed in the case.

In a KWWL Channel 7 report that aired Oct. 22, 2012, police said an initial investigation shows both victims were at a party in Dubuque. After a petty dispute, two groups of people — one of which included both Timmons and Barber — went outside. That’s when and where the shooting took place.

“I don’t want to speculate too much on what the true nature of the initial dispute was, other than the fact that it was very minor in comparison to the loss of a life,” Dubuque police chief Mark Dalsing said. “Whether it was over a female, whether it was over who looked at who wrong, it’s ridiculous that something so minor could cause the death of one person and hospitalization of another.”

KWWL also reported on Oct. 22:

A Facebook page called “R.I.P Marlon Barber” popped up shortly after the teen’s death. While it contains dozens of loving, supportive messages, a small number of people used the page to voice hate-filled, racially charged messages, generalizing the issue of race and crime in Dubuque.

“It’s disgusting that people will use a tragedy to promote their political agenda or their social views,” Dalsing said. “The Internet is what it is. It’s a great way for people to say what they want anonymously. A great way to stir the pot, and it’s just incredibly unfortunate that it takes the loss of a young man for people to crawl out of the woodwork and act the way they do.”

Many of the original offending comments have been removed from the Facebook page.

Lynn Sutton sits on the Dubuque city council. She is the city’s the first black council member and has said she hopes to act as a leader in Dubuque’s black community. On Monday afternoon, she addressed some of the hate-filled messages on the Barber Facebook memorial page.

“The thing we have to remember is people lost loved ones and they are grieving, and posting all these things on Facebook is not helping these families, not helping these friends,” she said.

In a phone conversation Monday afternoon, Barber’s father Marlon Barber Sr. said his son lived with him in Chicago up until just about two months ago. He said his son had moved back and forth between Chicago and Dubuque, where his mother lives, in the past. He said his son went to Dubuque to escape the violence of Chicago.

“We lost our son and we lost a brother and it’s wrong, all this killing,” Barber said.

Barber said his son, the oldest of five children, was outgoing and liked to dance, rap, sing and be around his four younger siblings.

“I love my son and miss him dearly,” Barber said. “He’s in a better place.”

According to the Dubuque Community School District, Timmons is not currently enrolled. Barber was enrolled at Hempstead High School.

Four Oaks, which provides school-based programming in partnership with the public schools, confirms Barber attended its Dubuque program.

Both the district and Four Oaks said they’re offering support in regard to this tragic incident to any student who seeks it.

Dalsing said there’s no evidence to suggest the shootings were gang-related.

“That’s one of the big problems is, people make that big leap, that they think, ‘Oh,’ right away, ‘it’s two groups of minorities. Must be gang related.’ A lot of these kids have been in Dubuque for a long time,” Dalsing said.

As of Monday evening, county prosecutors have not filed any charges, nor have police arrested anybody or even named any suspects.

Dubuque police said there are several people who know specifically what happened in this incident and who is responsible. While a number of these people have been identified, police say there are still a number of people who have yet to come forward. Police said they “want to emphasize how incredible important it is for those with information to come forward.”

On Oct. 25, 2012, KWWL reported that community members with Dubuque’s Washington Neighborhood had established a fund in Barber Jr.’s name.

Laurie Bartolotta, one of the group’s members, told KWWL the community had done so “with sincere sympathy and with the hope that we will not ever have another tragedy like this happen again again in our neighborhood.”

Investigators confident “know what happened”

In a KWWL Channel 7 report airing Oct. 8, 2013, Assistant Dubuque police chief Terry Tobin said investigators are confident they know what happened — and know the people involved in the shooting — but nobody has been willing to talk so far.

Marlon Barber Jr. (courtesy KWWL)

Marlon Barber Jr. (courtesy KWWL)

“It’s one thing to potentially know the facts of the case or what happened. It’s another thing to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” Tobin said. “Our issues on that case are the lack of people willing to come in and officially provide that information or be willing to stand up and acknowledge that the information that they have is out there and that it’s accurate and that it would help us to build a case.”

Lt. Scott Baxter echoed Tobin’s thoughts, saying investigators are still working on the case but have been hindered by a lack of cooperation by “people holding pivotal information.”

City council member Sutton called upon people to provide information.

Group draws attention back to unsolved cases

Margreet Ryan and David Becker are on the Social Justice Committee of the parishes of St. Raphael Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Church in Dubuque, and on Oct. 19, 2013, held a ceremony in Jackson Park to remember the victims of unsolved homicides and missing persons cases. The group also wanted to show support for victims’ family members.

“It’s difficult to talk about your grief, and these people must be grieving so, so severely, and where do they go with all of this, you know?” Ryan said in a KWWL interview that aired Oct. 19, 2013. “This has been a history of 50 years of unresolved homicides and missing persons.”

The Oct. 19 event formally recognized the 12 unsolved homicide and missing person cases the committee could find, though they said there are likely more than that.

Members planned the ceremony around the one-year anniversary of Marlon Barber Jr.’s unsolved homicide.

“We said, ‘Well, maybe there’s other unsolved murder and missing people,’ so we found out there was,” Becker said.

In addition to Marlon Barber Jr., the public remembrance ceremony honored the following victims:

  • Francis Rafferty, killed in a 1964 home invasion.
  • Sherrie and Victoria Martin, young sisters who were burned alive in an unsolved 1965 case of arson.
  • Kenneth Bouzard, beaten to death near the railroad tracks in 1971.
  • Jackie Shireman, stabbed 30 times with a pair of scissors in 1975.
  • Patrician Spahn, who went missing from East Dubuque, Ill., in 1975.
  • Theodore Hoerstman, missing since December 1982.
  • 14-year-old Kenny Joe Johnson, discovered in 1987 in Dubuque. An autopsy revealed he’d been sexually assaulted and strangled to death.
  • Paul Knockel, who went missing in 1990 on Thanksgiving.
  • 20-year-old Crystal Arensdorf, who disappeared July 4, 2001.
  • Amy Luce, who went missing in July 2012.

“These cases can go for years and years, and all of a sudden something comes forward to the police or to other authorities and that’s the bit of information that cracks the case open and allows for the case to be solved and to be cleared,” Tobin said.

Although the people whose names made this list are gone, “they must not be forgotten,” Ryan said. “That is the point. They must not be forgotten.”

“We look at those events as being an opportunity to renew the interest in the public’s eye for these cases,” Tobin told KWWL. “There are people out there that have information that would be beneficial to helping us solve the case and close it.”

He said the biggest challenge in cracking a cold case is the people who have information may die or move away as the years pass.

For other cases, such as the active investigation into Marlon Barber’s death, Tobin said the problem lies in people who have information but won’t talk.

In a Telegraph Herald story published Oct. 21, 2015, Lt. Baxter reiterated that investigators have identified potential suspects, but don’t have sufficient evidence to refer the case to the county attorney’s office.

“It’s frustrating for us, but we haven’t forgotten about (Barber),” Baxter said.

About Marlon Barber Jr.

Marlon Terrell Barber Jr., the son of Nate’ Watson and Marlon Barber Sr. was born November 14, 1996 in Chicago, Illinois.

Marlon received his formal education at Holmes and Prescott Elementary Schools in Chicago, IL, Hillcrest Elementary School in Iowa and Academy of Leaming High School in Riverdale, IL where he loved and played football.

Marlon, affectionately called “Bushaman” or “Yolo,” was the joy of his Grandma Lisie and Grandma Rita’s heart. He was known for being funny, outgoing, putting a smile on everyone’s face, and he loved dancing.

He was a son, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend to many.

He died Sunday, October 21, 2012, after being shot in Dubuque, Iowa, just before midnight on Oct. 20.

Survivors included his mother, Nate’ Watson (Michael Gibson); father, Marlon Barber Sr. (Dorothy Bell); brothers and sisters: Kyerrah Barber (KySean Bryant), Terrance Dogan, Shannon Barber, MarShaune Barber, Theodore Bell, Malik Ashanti, Christopher Bell, Alandus Ambrose, Angel Ambrose, and Asia Taylor; nephew, KySean Bryant; grandmothers, Rita Franklin and Elise Barber; grandfathers, Nathan Watson and Michael Green; a host of aunts, uncles, cousins; a host of friends; and his best friends, Blake McGonigle and Prince Lamptey.

Information Needed

Anyone with information about Marlon Barber’s unsolved murder can contact Dubuque Police Department Case Agent Cpl. Chris Gorrell at 563-587-3806, Lt. Jason Pace at 563-589-4439 or Capt. Scott Engleman at 563-589-4467.



13 Responses to Marlon Barber

  1. I need to get a hold of that detective of MR.Marlon’s case i’m doing a report on him in class and he is about my age so I picked him…PLEASE WRITE BACK👮

  2. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    As, always they are protecting someone and don’t want to rat out their supposed good friends. How many young people get killed or wounded over an argument over some stuff that amounts to nothing in the grand scheme of things.

    Their have been shootings, where someone was denied entry to a party. So they go home and get a gun. Then they go back and shoot up the place and kill or injure someone. If I don’t get invited to a party, it bothers me. I go home and cry in my oatmeal. But it does not bother me.

  3. Kim says:

    I didn’t know Marlon, however the photo I saw of him told me so much. The sparkle in his eyes and the love showing on his face for the little one he was holding showed me that this world is a much sadder place without him. As for the people that know something about his murder and aren’t assisting the police, they are cowards, a brave person would step up, they would help solve this murder so that his family and friends would be able to move on, not have questions in the back of their minds, not wonder every day why someone would kill this wonderful person that they love, and I use the present tense, because you never stop loving that person. But they have not…and it is something that they will have to live with and it will follow them and haunt them in everything they do and everywhere they go and in the end I just want them to remember one thing, it all measures out at the end.

    • miranda says:

      thank you so much he lived with me he was like a brother to me and thanks for talking good about him he was a very good kid

  4. Dawn Picolet says:

    What a shame someone knows what happened give the family closer

  5. Stacy Miller says:

    So young..
    So stinking sad; (

  6. I agree with you Christina Harris, 100 percent.

  7. Diana Wilson says:

    Give his family closer. Prayers that someone will come forward.

  8. That’s a shame when ppl won’t talk cause if it happens to their loved one they would want ppl to talk. Hope someone comes forward

  9. Jack street Spy says:

    I know someone who has info but won’t talk

  10. Miranda r.i.p marlon says:

    I think the people that did this to marlon should sit be hind bars

  11. Miranda croft says:

    R.i.p marlon we all love and miss u so much and always will you are never forgotten

  12. Jackie says:

    R.i.p marlon

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