2 children, mother killed on holiday visit

/ Source: The Associated Press

Two young children visiting their mother at Fort Smith for Christmas were killed along with their mother and their bodies were left in a Fort Smith apartment complex for as long as a week, police said Tuesday.

Police arrested the mother's boyfriend at the apartment, after officers received a call from his father early Tuesday saying his son may be suicidal, said Fort Smith police Sgt. Jarrard Copeland.

The boyfriend, James Aaron Miller, 30, may have spent up to a week with the bodies, attempting to clean up after the deaths, Copeland said.

Police identified those killed as Bridgette Barr, 28, daughter Sydney, 5, and son Garrett, 2.

Copeland said Fort Smith police received a call from Miller's father in Colorado at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, saying his son had sent a text message.

"I don't know what that text message said but it made the father think he might want to harm himself," Copeland said.

When a Fort Smith police officer arrived at the apartment Miller and Barr shared, Copeland said Miller answered the door.

"He told the officer he was ready to go," Copeland said.

No obvious cause of death
The officer waited for an ambulance to pick up Miller. After the ambulance arrived, the officer searched the apartment, finding Bridgette Barr's body underneath a blanket, Copeland said. Sydney was found a short distance away, while Garrett was found in the apartment's bathtub, he said.

Copeland said the bodies bore no obvious wounds and a cause of death had yet to be determined. He said investigators believe Miller lived in the apartment with the bodies up to six days.

Copeland said officers found a bottle of window cleaner where they suspected Miller tried to clean up blood stains. He said there were signs the walls had been cleaned recently as well. However, Copeland didn't know if the bodies had been moved or tampered with.

"It was kind of hard to guess what was happening at the time because the bodies are decomposing," Copeland said.

Copeland said investigators later interviewed Miller and he made a statement. Copeland said he would not disclose what Miller said.

Miller is being held without bail at the Sebastian County Jail on suspicion of committing the killings, Copeland said. No charge has yet been filed, Copeland said.

Police believe Barr's two children were only visiting their mother for the holiday season. They normally live with their father in nearby Muldrow, Okla., Copeland said.