AFTER ELIZABETH BARKLEY
After Elizabeth Barclay
By Kanon Beltran, Moderator, Memories of Dallas
Edited by Paul Heckmann, Executive Director, Memories of Dallas
Who killed Elizabeth Barclay? It’s been forty years since the young girl was kidnapped, shocking the citizens of Dallas, which happened only three months after the kidnapping and murder of young Tyra Heath of Mesquite
October 23 1979 – 7 year old Elizabeth Barclay, her brother and another unrelated child were walking to a grocery store when an here-to-yet unidentified black male stopped them along Community Drive and Northwest Highway. The man then grabbed Barclay and according to the two other children, threatened to drown the girl, then jumped into his car with the young girl and drove away.
An investigation began immediately. The disappearance of the girl brought up memories of the disappearance of Tyra Heath back in July and of another girl five years earlier. Dallas police launched an all points bulletin and called in Dallas Police helicopters to aid in a wider search in hopes of finding the girl.
There were other documented witnesses, a woman identified as E.C Landy who said she heard screams from the area and also a Hispanic gentleman who claimed he saw the whole thing.
October 27th – Four days after the abduction the parents of Elizabeth, Linda and David Barclay held a press conference and plead for their daughter’s return. A call was made that night by a Psychic however Dallas police determined the information shared by the caller wasn’t plausible.
October 30th – the search widened including a search of the Coppell area and the Trinity River bottom with Dallas Police, Dallas REACT Members and Elizabeth’s father David. Nothing was found.
November 7th – Elizabeth’s parents had raised $10,000 in reward money in hopes of the safe return of Elizabeth. A better vehicle description was also put out in an article about the missing girl, the description now read that police were looking for a two-door Buick, and a black male, 5’6 with sideburns. More helicopter searches were conducted to no avail.
November – the family held several vigils over the months of October and November however, it seemed they weren’t drawing the crowds they were hoping for. None the less, although divorced, the Barclays acted in tandem trying to find thier little girl
November 18th – Dallas Morning News ran a full page ad in support of finding Elizabeth. The reward had been upped to $15,000 and an updated photo of the girl had also been included
(however I did notice the poster didn’t run with details of the Buick or the abductor which seems really odd to me, you’d think they would have included it in hopes of finding the girl and her abductor or at least gotten a call in on someone recognizing both.)
December – As December descended upon the city, hope was fading. And unfortunately that bit of hope would be struck down during the Christmas week.
December 21 – an unidentified person discovered skeletal remains on a dirt road, off what is now Wingo Way in Wills Point a few miles outside of Dallas.
The Barclay’s were informed of this discovery and that they could possibly be Elizabeth’s remains. The Dallas County Medical Examiner confirmed that suspicion using dental records. The cause of death was determined to have been gunshot.
December 23 – Robert Douglas Durkee was arrested for an unrelated kidnapping in University Park and was thought to have been connected to Elizabeth’s case
December 24 – Police decided he was not connected to the case and let him go.
December 30 – leads had dried up in the Barclay investigation. A funeral was held for Elizabeth at Restland, a small crowd gathered to celebrate the life of a young child who had been taken too soon.
And that was the end of what the public knows of the Barclays and Elizabeth.
As for Dallas, another tragedy was forthcoming in December. Another child 7 year old, Steven Craig Little had been abducted the same day Elizabeth was found and whose tiny body was found the day after off of Abrams Road. While there was not public connection of these two cases, Dallas parents must have been reeling.
Looking back, this goes into the Cold Case Files. The case remains unsolved and no new leads have been released to the public.
I have my own theory; Elizabeth’s murder was very similar to another girl around the same age named Ladina McCoy. Ladina died via a gunshot and was found near Mountain Creek Lake. No suspect has been identified in Ladina’s case.
February 22 1980 – A girl aged between 4-6 was kidnapped from a sidewalk in East Dallas by a man identified as a 6 feet tall black male with a goatee, the girl was thrown into a dirty blue station wagon, the man then drove off with the girl never to be seen again.
February 24 – Dallas Police were puzzled by this disappearance, but thinking that this case was parental, the investigation was dropped.
Back to Elizabeth’s case I don’t know if Elizabeth’s parents are still alive nor the whereabouts of her brother Scott, much like the Heaths who I talked about in a previous blog post. I suspect they’ve stayed away from social media, Elizabeth’s case has been relatively forgotten and sadly wouldn’t be the last stranger abduction in the DFW area, there have been a total of thirty-one cases from 1977-2000 a staggering number for such a short time. Other area cases have grabbed media attention more, Amber Hagerman and Ashley Estell come to mind both of which are also cold cases, I suspect none of the major news media will run a story although even a brief mention could dust the cobwebs and furnish new leads and give Elizabeth, her family and all the other families the justice they deserve.
Elizabeth Barclay would have been forty-seven this year. If you have any information please contact Dallas Police at (214) 670-8345.
Thank you and I only ask for respect for the Barclays in the comments.
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Great job Kanon!
So many remain unsolved. ?
Elizabeth is my aunt and while the public may have forgotten her, our family never has. With kids of my own now and my aunt being kidnapped and murdered with no justice ever being served, my children being kidnapped is a very real and terrifying thought for me every day. Please, if anyone remembers or ever heard about my aunt’s murder or knew her kidnapper, now is the time to come forward with that information. It has been far too long and the cloud that hangs over my family is to big and dark. We just want answers. Thank you.
I am Elizabeth’s older sister. I was 17 at the time she was stolen from us. I agree with most of what you say but I wonder where in the world you got Wingo Way?! Last year I finally went out to the still desolate place where her remains were found. The area, unbelievably, is virtually unchanged in 40 years other than the fence line across the road being cleared and a new barbed wire fence erected. But the county road is not Wingo Way. It’s just a number.
As far as family goes Elizabeth has been followed in death by my mother in 2005. I am estranged from my brother and stepdad. And since David told me back in the90’s that someone was in prison for Elizabeth’s murder, I don’t think they have any interest in this case being solved. I on the other hand, the one who knew her the least sm still haunted by her murder and pray daily for it to be solved
I got the Wingo Way thing from Dallas Morning News, I don’t know if that was their misunderstanding of East Texas,
Very pleased to see another push being done by law enforcement & media to get justice for Elizabeth. Sherry, are you at liberty to share the exact location in Van Zandt County? firstname.lastname@example.org if you prefer. Blessing to you & yours.
They recently renamed that road Wingo Way. My husband graduated from Wills Point in 1990 and we recently were driving out that way and noticed it had that name and wandered when it had been re-names because it had always just been a county road number and had no name, so my husband wandered where they came up with such a name. This was about 2 weeks ago.
FM 2965 is also called Wingo Way. I am from Wills Point and one of our schools is on that road. I hope that helps. I’ve never heard of that story and please know I’m praying for answers for your family.
Did they ever catch the person(s)? Was there ever anyone suspected or considered?
I am Elizabeth’s cousin and was told the story of her murder as a child. I have always wondered if they would solve her murder, a few years back I received newspaper clippings on the case. I have prayed for so long that they find the evil who took her!!
I am Elizabeth’s sister. I’ve never heard your name. How are you related?
So sorry gor your losd
Sorry for your loss.
John Paul Barnes
I am a retired Police Officer from the Dallas area. With our current DNA technology, we have the greatest chance ever of finally catching her abductor! Thought of contacting John Walsh, whose own child Adam was abducted? I think his show is In Pursuit! They are finding suspects from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s! Hope they find this person!
I worked at the child care center where Elizabeth and her little brother went, that always stayed on my mind till this day when I go eat at a restaurant in the neighborhood, I think of Elizabeth and how beautiful she was, I wish justice would come no matter how old he is now.
I read that Texas DPS, is reopening the case. I was wondering if they might have an idea of the type of firearm used in Elizabeth’s case, and also Ladina McCoy case.
It’s nice that you took the time to highlight these unsolved cases. We need more Cold Case investigators to work these cases.
I worked with Linda. I still remember when it happened. Something so horrible, I can never forget. I often thought about Linda how difficult it must have been to lose a child. Such sad memories.
I was Stephen Craig Little‘s best friend at the time of his death. We called him Steve. His parents we’re divorcing and it was chaotic. I wish that these cases would be solved, so we could all get closure.
I was a 9 year old child at the time. And attended the after school day care center where Elizabeth went to. She was 2 years younger than me but I remembered playing with her there on the playground and in the activities room inside and I certainly remember the devastating time of her abduction. I have often thought about Elizabeth through the years and hoped that her kidnapper would be found and could be brought to justice. Because of this abduction I was brought to realize the world could be a scary place. I remember the main lady in charge at the day care center who had short dark hair (I can’t recall her name – Lori is in my mind, but that probably isn’t right – it was 40 years ago and I was a child) and how devastated she was by the abduction. There was also a beautiful young woman from Chile (also cannot recall her name) that was working there and she was an amazing artist and she would draw pictures for me everyday because I begged to to do so. About 6 months after the abduction we moved out of Dallas as my father who was a minister was moved to a church outside of Dallas. I am all grown up and a professional musician in NYC, but Elizabeth’s memory still lives in me. I have written a Viola & Piano Duet that is a tribute to Elizabeth, it is called ELEGY FOR ELIZABETH BARCLAY, I am in the process of recorded it and will be putting it up on my YouTube channel. You should be able to find it with a search.
ELEGY FOR ELIZABETH BARCLAY – for Viola & Piano. Your light continues to shine. link to the musical tribute piece: https://youtu.be/vYlDlnKpIRk