Woman’s death confuses friends
Debbie Bariames didn’t want to move to Lake Tahoe with her husband and her infant son. She thought it was too cold, but her husband, George Bariames, desired to live in a small community, where they could start a new life and raise their infant son.
On Sept. 21, authorities found Debbie dead, George sweating and staring blankly at a television set and baby Nicholas malnourished and neglected next to his mother’s body.
It was an event that left Debbie’s best friend Tina Snider shocked, angered and confused.
“I still don’t believe it because everything is unknown,” Snider said. “We don’t have any information on what happened.”
An autopsy failed to reveal the cause of Debbie’s death that occurred at the family’s apartment on Market Street off Kingsbury Grade. Authorities are awaiting toxicology and other reports to find the answer.
Snider said she last talked to her friend on Sunday, Sept. 15. Debbie was depressed after her move and wanted to come back to Las Vegas.
“We talked once a week,” Snider said from her Las Vegas home. “Sunday was the day we talked to each other. I talked to her that Sunday. She sounded sad. She wanted to come home I think. George got on the phone saying he wanted to come home too.”
The couple met about five years ago when Debbie’s neighbor in her Las Vegas apartment complex introduced her to George. They dated, moved in with each other, got married and tried for about a year to start a family.
The wish finally came true on Nov. 4, 2001 with the birth of Nicholas. Their son, affectionately called “Nikky”, was born in Iowa.
Snider and her husband, Kevin, were deemed the godparents of the child.
On Sept. 21, Nicholas was found with his face pasty and sallow. His eyes were dark, cheeks thin and he failed to have the energy to lift his head or drink a rehydration liquid.
A helicopter flew him to UC Davis Medical Center. He was listed in serious condition Saturday but was released at 11:45 a.m. Thursday.
Snider, who was asked by Debbie to take care of her child in case there was an emergency, was baffled by the news of Nikky’s release. More than likely, child protective service took in the baby.
On Tuesday, George had a seizure before his first court appearance at Tahoe Township Justice Court. On Wednesday, Douglas County law enforcement officials said George Bariames apparently faked his seizure before his original court appearance on charges of child abuse and neglect.
“We came to that conclusion when we were told by Carson-Tahoe Hospital,” said Lt. Mike Biaggini. “The tests ran on him were not legitimate.”
Biaggini said there are a couple reasons why Bariames may have faked his seizure. One was that he was trying to bypass his court appearance. The other could be that it was an opportunity he created to escape.
Biaggini said there is a possibility of increasing security when Bariames appears in court. His next hearing is 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 at Tahoe Township Justice Court. He remains in Douglas County Jail with bail set at $500,000.
Bariames faces a maximum of 20 years in state prison for the abuse and neglect charge.
As godmother, Snider said the baby had a mixture of his parents’ facial features.
“He looked like a little bit of both,” Snider said. “Debbie said he looked like George when he was a baby but Debbie had a certain way to wrinkle up her face and he would do the same thing.”
Snider received a phone call from Tom Bariames, George’s father, around midnight on Sept. 21 telling her about the death and arrest. She hasn’t had a sound night of sleep since. The next day was her scheduled phone call with her best friend.
Snider, her husband and a group of Debbie’s family intend to drive to Stateline this weekend to retrieve Debbie’s belongings. She believes George should spend the rest of his life in jail. Even though they don’t have a child themselves, Snider and her husband, Kevin, said they would certainly fill Debbie’s wish to take care of young Nicholas.
“Even if it was an accident and (George) passed out for a couple days, you just don’t sit there and watch television,” Snider said.
— Contact William Ferchland at email@example.com.
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