ID on body expected today |

ID on body expected today

Gregory Crofton

Investigators hope a fingerprint comparison will confirm a body pulled from a lagoon in the Tahoe Keys Monday night is 57-year-old Robert Barr.

An autopsy of the body, which will include fingerprint analysis, is expected today at 10 a.m.

A semi-automatic gun was found in water near the body. Investigators have not yet said if they consider cause of death to be murder or suicide.

Barr, a resident of Portland, Ore., was married to Rebecca Barr, a 45-year-old woman found shot to death in the woods near Fallen Leaf Lake March 26.

Last week investigators were in Oregon for four days trying to locate Robert Barr to talk to him about the death of his wife.

“Is it Robert Barr? If it is him, we still don’t know how and when he died,” said El Dorado County Sheriff Sgt. Bob Johnston. “We won’t know for sure until an autopsy is performed. If we can get fingerprints from the body we’ll know it’s him.”

Johnston said there is chance that the body will be too badly decomposed to collect fingerprints. If that’s the case, investigators may have to get a court order to access Barr’s dental records from Oregon Department of Corrections.

Barr served time in two minimum security prisons in that state after being convicted in 1996 of being an ex-convict in possession of a firearm and robbery.

No one seems to know why the Barrs came to South Shore sometime before the weekend of March 25. They reportedly left Portland abruptly without telling family members about their trip.

An investigation into the Barr’s lives began once they identified Rebecca through missing person’s Teletype information more than a week after her body was found by a South Lake Tahoe resident.

A few days after they identified her, the owner of a Tahoe Keys vacation home rolled up to his 1579 Venice Drive residence and found a champagne-colored Chevrolet Malibu parked in the driveway. Investigators traced the car back to a business in Portland where the Barrs had rented it.

Then Monday, around 6:45 p.m., three boys in a canoe paddled up to a man’s decomposing body thinking it was a beaver’s nest. Instead, what they found was a body floating several yards offshore in about 2 feet of water.

The boys said the man was wearing a tuxedo, his head was submerged and his stomach as well as his right hand were elevated above the surface of the lagoon. Noble Lau, a 9-year-old who is one of the boys who discovered the body, said he saw blood around the hand.

The body was found directly behind a vacation home at 1652 Venice Drive, about one-eight of a mile from where the Barr’s rented Malibu turned up. The owners live at Berkeley, Calif., and have not been at their vacation home in weeks.

Tuesday morning El Dorado County Sheriff’s investigators wrapped yellow tape around the homes and backyards at 1652 and 1656 Venice to protect any evidence. They also brought out Dive and Water Rescue Units and a kayak to search areas of the lagoon for clues. Before noon, divers pulled garbage and a black cowboy boot from the water.

“We’re just going to be out here a long time,” Johnston said. “We’ve got a whole crew of people from El Dorado County Sheriff’s Dive Team in Placerville and South Lake Tahoe.”

El Dorado Sheriff’s Department took over the investigation into the body from South Lake Tahoe Police sometime Monday night when they realized it may be related to the Barr case.

Investigators working the case may know what they are dealing with, but the boys who found the body don’t.

“I was trying to figure them out,” said Chani Lau, father of two of the boys, Hunter, 7, and Noble, 9, who found the body. “They still don’t know what this means. You can tell that they’re still in shock. We made them sleep with us last night. Hunter kept waking up talking about the finger he saw.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.