Man wanted in wife’s murder in Catawba Co. now in custody

Man wanted in wife's death now in custody

CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A man who was wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting of his wife at their Catawba County home Tuesday was taken into custody Thursday.

Joseph Barker is charged with murder in the death of 43-year-old Crystal Johnson Barker.

The deadly shooting happened in an area on Plateau Road near Rock Creek Drive in Vale, North Carolina. Investigators said they got a call that Barker had barricaded himself in a room inside the home and was holding his wife at gunpoint.

Catawba County Special Tactics and Response Team responded and found Crystal Barker dead inside the home. Barker had fled the scene.

“Barker should be considered armed and dangerous, do not approach him,” deputies warned. Officials issued a BOLO [be on the lookout] for Barker Wednesday morning.

WBTV News was told that two teens, sons of a couple, were inside the home at the time of the shooting.

Investigators do not believe the teens witnessed the shooting but were able to give them information about what they heard, including that Barker had left the scene in a 1999 Toyota Camry.

Just before daybreak, that car registered to Barker was found wrecked in a ditch along Old Highway 64 in Transylvania County.

Barker was nowhere to be found, but authorities believed he ran from the accident scene on foot and could be in Transylvania County. Teams searched for him on foot, as well as using helicopters and drones.

Barker was found about a mile from where his car was found wrecked in a ditch on Wednesday. The Transylvania Sheriff was leading a search team through a wooded area when he spotted the suspect on the ground.

Captain Jeremy Queen says Barker was hiding and did not immediately give up but had nowhere to run. “Pure and simple, it was good old fashioned police work,” he said.

The capture ended a manhunt that lasted more than 30 hours. Search teams had combed woods, searched homes and had checkpoints throughout the area where they could look into cars and the back of pickups.

When Barker was caught, Queen says he was tired, hungry and disheveled but no visible injuries. No weapon was found but crews remain in the area and searching the woods just in case there is one still there.

Barker was taken to Transylvania Regional Hospital to be checked out. As he was wheeled in, IV bags could be seen and handcuffs were around his wrists.

Doctors will determine when he will be released into the custody of law enforcement. Authorities say there is a chance he could be taken back in Catawba County Thursday night.

Back in the neighborhood where the murder happened, neighbor Elizabeth Ray says it scares her to have something like a murder so close to her home especially with a suspect still on the loose.

“Oh my god, they better find him,” she said.

Anyone with further information about the case is asked to call the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office at 828-464-5241.

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