A con-artist kills her latest lover with his own gun, then vanishes.
Weight: 120 lbs.
Hair: Blonde (reddish)
Defining Characteristics: Has a scar near her right eye and a gap in her front teeth
In August of 1998, a woman calling herself Deianna Ray placed an ad in the personals section of a Louisiana newspaper. Deianna Ray was hardly being honest in the ad. In fact, her real name was not Deianna at all. It was Hazel Liotta Head. According to authorities, Deianna was a drifter who hitchhiked around the country looking for her next mark–a lonely man to latch onto and drain his bank account. That man happened to be Charles Barker, a recent widower who was devastated after the sudden loss of his wife of ten years. According to Charles’ daughter, Cindy Jefferson, Charles tried to overcome his depression with activities:
“But then later on he… snapped out of it and wanted to do things. Go fishing and travel. He bought a Winnebago, a boat. I guess that’s when the loneliness set in. You know he didn’t like doing it by himself.”
Police believe she fired the fatal shot
A casino on the Red River in Louisiana became Charles Barker’s latest diversion. He probably believed that he met Deianna by chance. But according to Ed Baswell of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Department, it’s likely that it was all a set up:
“Charles Barker carried pretty large amounts of cash with him. Hazel would have almost certainly noticed that because she’d be looking for those kinds of things. And so he would’ve become a target for her.”
Less than a year after the death of his wife, Charles was swept up in a whirlwind romance with Deianna. According to Charles’s daughter, Jennifer Spoonts, Deianna moved into Charles’s home within days of their initial meeting:
“Dad told me he had met a woman in the casino. You know I didn’t think anything of it. You know I just hoped he was happy and I don’t want to see him alone. You know I thought maybe she would be a good companion for him. And evidently he was happy with her, for awhile, because he would call me and say he liked her. He needed someone, some companionship. He didn’t like to be alone.”
Charles Barker was murdered in his home
One weekend, Jennifer made the nine-hour drive from her Austin home to meet her father’s new girlfriend:
“She wasn’t… a real presentable woman. You know just no class. She looked like a bar fly you know. I was suspicious of her. I knew she wasn’t right for him.”
A short time later, even Charles apparently began to share that opinion. According to his daughter, Charles admitted he was having trouble with Deianna, but refused to provide any details:
“When my dad called me he just sounded so different and he started crying and I’ve never heard my dad cry or anything. And but he told me he’d call me in two or three days. Everything would be okay and he’d let me know what was going on.”
But that explanation never came. Shortly afterward, Jennifer tried calling her father to arrange another visit:
“I’d been trying to phone him for the whole week. And no answer. And I finally called my aunt. And she said well we’ll go by there and check on him.”
No fingerprints were found on the gun
Charles’ sister, June, and her husband, drove over to see if there was a problem. According to Sheriff Baswell, when they arrived, they noticed the front door of Charles’s residence was open:
“So they proceed further. The husband looks in and sees Mister Barker slumped over the bar.”
Charles had been dead for five days, killed by a single gunshot to the head. As Sheriff Baswell combed the crime scene, several observations were made:
“Our detectives found no sign of a struggle. They did not find the house had been ransacked. Mister Barker had a .25 caliber Raven arms pistol that he kept in his residence. There were no prints found on the gun. But the ballistics evidence indicates that that was the weapon that was used. Mister Barker had a safe that he kept in his bedroom. The safe was opened when investigators arrived.”
She often hitched rides from truckers
Except for a few stock certificates, the safe was empty. Also missing was Charles Barker’s Lincoln town car and his girlfriend. Sheriff Baswell soon identified her as a con artist named Hazel Head:
“Mister Barker’s vehicle was found the next day after his body was discovered. It was found near the airport. Inside the car were pieces of clothing that belonged to Hazel. Also found in the car was DNA evidence. Physical evidence that we believe definitely links her to the car. We believe she is the one that took the car from his residence and drove it to that spot near the airport.”
A background check on Hazel Head revealed that she’d married as many as ten times and was known to use more than a dozen aliases. There was also an outstanding warrant for her arrest in Lincoln, Nebraska. There, she had allegedly burned down her boyfriend’s home, then fled before standing trial.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season twelve with Robert Stack and in season eight with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.
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