On July 19, 2015, Talen Barton was at the residence of Cindy and Coleman Palmieri, Barton’s foster parents in the past. Also at the residence where Ms. Palmieri's brother, Theodore Norvell, her son Teo Palmieri and two minor females who are also related to the Palmieris. Late in the evening after everyone had gone to bed Barton went into Teo’s room and placed his hand over Teo’s mouth as he slept and attempted to slice his throat with a knife. Teo woke up and started screaming as he fought for his life due to the traumatic injury to his neck. Ms. Palmieri heard her son screaming, entered his room and was immediately stabbed in the neck by Barton. After being stabbed in the neck, Ms. Palmieri started screaming for her husband, Coleman. Barton then went to the bedroom of Coleman and Cindy Palmieri. However, once Barton arrived he met Mr. Palmieri running for the door. Once they reached each other, Barton stabbed Mr. Palmieri in the throat. After the confrontation with Mr. Palmieri, Barton went downstairs where he observed Mr. Norvell entering the kitchen. He then stabbed Mr. Norvell in the neck.
During these cold-blooded brutal stabbings, Mrs. Palmieri bled profusely as her brother desperately clung to his life as well. At one point during the commission of the crime, Barton had stated, "I should just put her out of her misery" when he learned that Ms. Palmieri was not dead after stabbing her. Ms. Palmieri described a moment after Talen had stabbed her brother, Theodore. Barton looked back at her and stated, "You're not dead yet." As a result of Barton's actions, Teo eventually died from multiple stab wounds to his neck and body. Mr. Palmieri also lost his life due to multiple stab wounds to his neck and body and Mrs. Palmieri and Mr. Norvell suffered from severe injuries.
Probation spoke with pathologist Dr. Jacqueline Benjamin regarding the injuries the deceased victims suffered. Dr. Benjamin stated that Mr. Palmieri 's injuries were brutally severe. She said the wound to his chest was fatal as he was stabbed through the heart which severed the left ventricle cutting off the blood to his heart and the depth of the wound also sliced through his left lung causing it to collapse. Dr. Benjamin also said the wound to Mr. Palmieri’s neck was severe as well as his internal carotid artery was cut. Dr. Benjamin said the depth of Teo Palmieri’s injury to his throat was serious as it cut through three layers of muscle, severing his internal carotid artery and jugular.
During the interview with Barton, which was somewhat disturbing as he entered the interview room with a smile on his face. And although he said he felt "bad" about what he had done and stated he knew he would probably be spending the rest of his life in jail he indicated he felt good about his life and who he was.
Based on the information I received from Ms. Martin [Laytonville foster mother prior to Barton moving in with the Palmieris] during the interview he had grown up in a chaotic and unstable environment when he was younger eventually despising the person he had become as a teenager and young man. On that fatal night at the Palmieri’s residence he began to think about how much he hated himself, his situation, and how he could get out of the life he was living. Moreover, during the investigation, it was discovered that Barton had stated he wanted to do "violent things" and or "kill things." It was also determined he had told a friend, "I just want to kill people." But what it really came down to was, Barton "wanted to know what it felt like to die" and that is what he told detectives when they interviewed him.
Barton said it was his intention to commit suicide after he had killed the victims. It was hard for me to believe he really wanted to die but I do believe he wanted to know what it was like to watch someone die. Like most normal people who have goals in life such as going to college, getting married, having children, establishing a career, it appears Barton’s goal in life for a long time was to know what it felt like to kill someone and watch them die. So on that fatal night he killed two people, watched two others suffer as they fought for their lives and asked them "What does it feel like?" and "Does it hurt?" almost in a mocking manner.
Knowing that he had killed two people and watching two others struggle to survive, Barton eventually sat down in the living room and smoked marijuana while talking to dispatch on the phone. Eventually his hatred toward his life as well as others and the overwhelming desire to know what it would feel like to kill someone almost an obsession with death became a reality for him.
Detectives noted during their interview with Barton that he often smiled, laughed and almost displayed some sort of enjoyment in what he had done. During my interview with him, he displayed the same emotions. Barton's callous emotional display, his self-satisfied attitude and a lack of regard for the lives that he had taken is heartless. Murder by its very nature is extremely serious. In this case the victims were ferociously attacked with excessive violence and life threatening bodily harm was inflicted, displaying a high degree of cruelty and viciousness which is deserving of the years he will spend in prison. Society should be and needs to be protected from someone who is as cold hearted as Barton.
This probation officer spoke with Marcella Runnings, a juvenile probation officer at the time, who wrote the original disposition report for the court when Barton was a juvenile. Officer Runnings had written in her report about her concerns about Talon’s emotional balance and his risk of becoming a danger to others. I spoke to Officer Runnings and she said she had met with the Palmieris during a disposition report and had told them she did not think it was a good idea for them to take Barton into their home, which is somewhat ironic as Ms. Palmieri when interviewed by detectives stated Barton had told her, "You guys are really going to regret ever bringing me into your home."
On July 23, 2015 the defendant was interviewed by Donald Apostle M.D. Dr. Apostle indicated the defendant suffered from possible methamphetamine exposure in utero and a traumatic and neglectful upbringing, including sexual and physical abuse with a history of self ingestion of marijuana. Dr. Apostle described the defendant as chronically depressed. However, he did not believe the defendant was psychotic at the time of the murders and to the best degree of his medical certainty he believes the defendant was aware of the nature and quality of his actions as well as the wrongfulness. A letter written by the defendant from the jail to a friend has been attached to this report. (It is also appended below)
Probation spoke with Detective Wyant who indicated the defendant was very candid about his brutality and he felt as though he was talking to someone who was "pure evil." Detective Wyant went on to say, "I hadn't seen anything this brutal in my 17 year career. This murder was very calculated and I hope to never see him out of prison. He is an absolute monster."
Talen Barton Explains Himself
During probation’s interview with the defendant, he stated, "It was really fucked up and now I'll be in jail for the rest of my life. I deserved to be in jail for the rest of my life." The defendant indicated he was a "pussy" for not killing himself but explained he did not have enough time to do so. The defendant stated he was "pretty pissed off" at the victim (Teo) before he killed him because he was an "ass and had an uncontrollable temper, and wasn't going anywhere."
When asked how he was able to kill one grown man and severely injure another without injury to himself, the defendant stated he practiced martial arts and boxing for a couple years. When asked how he got started in martial arts, the defendant stated his guardian (Denise Shields) at the time knew he was getting "picked on" at school and wanted him to be able to defend itself. The defendant also stated, "She also knew I had anger issues."
The defendant said he knew he had to attack both men by surprise as they were both skilled in self-defense. The defendant stated Mr. Palmieri was a Brazilian martial artist in capoeira and was well versed in the art. The defendant stated, "I knew I had to catch them off guard." When asked about Mr. Norvell the defendant stated Mr. Norvell was a fencing instructor, a form of martial arts. The defendant stated, "I had to attack them by surprise so they wouldn't have a chance to defend themselves."
The defendant was asked about Denise Shields and the relationship he had with her. He stated Ms. Shields always threatened him with the possibility of foster care in order to get him to comply with her rules. The defendant stated, "I would have killed her if she would have been there.” I asked, "You would have killed her had she been at the Palmeiri house?" The defendant stated, "Oh fuck yeah. I would have -- if anyone deserved it, she did." When asked if he had anything else to add, the defendant stated, "Goodbye."
A Victim's Statement
Probation did speak with one of the victims, Theodore Norvell, via the telephone. Mr. Norvell said he is still recovering from his injuries and was still seeing his physician. Mr. Norvell stated he is still struggling with trying to understand the defendant's motive. Mr. Norvell stated he will be writing an impact letter to the court, which will be attached to this report if received in time.
The defendant, Talen Barton, stated he has lived in Mendocino County for five years. The defendant stated he has lived in the state of California for 10 years however, he also lived in Nevada, Washington and Alaska. The defendant characterized his health as good. He stated he was not currently taking any medication and denied ever being diagnosed with any mental illnesses. The defendant stated he enjoys playing the guitar and reading.
The defendant indicated he started smoking marijuana when he was 13 years old and said he would smoke it once a week for recreational purposes. By the age of 15 the defendant explained he was smoking every day, and estimated he smoked 5-10 grams of marijuana a day. The defendant went on to say by the age of 18 he was smoking marijuana every day and estimated he was smoking a quarter of an ounce a day. The defendant stated he enjoys smoking marijuana and he indicated it was a "habit, just as cigarettes are to others." The defendant said he typically does not get "high" from smoking marijuana as he has become used to it. However, he did say he does enjoy the taste. Defendant also stated he likes smoking hash, honey oil and keif.
The defendant stated although he does not grow marijuana, it has been given to him on most occasions. The defendant said he has trimmed marijuana for others and in return had been paid and given marijuana in exchange for his services. The defendant also stated he has used LSD in the past and has used it approximately 10 times and said, "It was amazing." The defendant explained he also ingested psilocybin mushrooms at the least 15 times and stated, "It made me trip pretty hard."
Mother’s name: April Wheatcroft. Age 39.
Father’s name: Royal Barton. Age 45.
The defendant stated his parents were never married and he was raised by his mother and stepfather (Scotty) until the age of eight and then he went into foster care. The defendant stated he went into foster care as a result of his mother and stepfather’s drug abuse. He also said his stepfather beat him with his fist and would threaten them (his older brother as well) with weapons. The defendant explained when his stepfather was under the influence of methamphetamine he would usually punch, slap and/or kick him and his brother. Defendant also stated that he was sexually abused by one of his stepfather's friends and explained it only happened one time but he chose not to elaborate on the details.
The defendant went on to say that his mother was depressed and he usually could tell when she was. He stated she would often tell him she was depressed but he often knew ahead of time, especially when she was using drugs. The defendant stated he is "still friends" with his mother. However, he has not seen her in six years. The defendant stated he talked to his mother on Facebook and she calls him at the jail. The defendant said he does not talk to his father and he last spoke to his father when he was 15.
The defendant stated he has one brother and one half brother. Defendant said he gets along with his younger half-brother but not so much with his older brother. The defendant stated, "We're not the same kind of people. I like metal, he likes rap. It's a strange relationship."
Brothers: Royal Martin Jr., 21, Concord California. Sean Epley 15, student, Washington State
The defendant indicated he was employed at Ramone's Bakery and Cafe while living in Eureka for a couple of months between 2014 and 2015. (Report prepared by the Mendocino County Probation Department)
From Dr. Donald Apostle (MD), Santa Rosa
At your request (Andy Alvarado, DA investigator), Mr. Barton was examined at the Mendocino County Jail investigative office on July 20, 2015 for purposes of psychiatric evaluation regarding diagnosis and sanity. The two-hour interview was recorded by videotape.
Prior to my examination I was informed by members of your office that Mr. Barton had a history of being sexually abused by his parents who are also drug abusers. He did graduate high school but did not attend college. He had smoked marijuana daily and was smoking marijuana at the time he called 911. He has been noted to burn himself by putting out marijuana cigarettes on his forearm. He has been into fantasy card play including Dungeons & Dragons identifying with the character "Ger" who is an assassin and kills and rapes with a sword.
He was taken in by this adoptive family at age 17 after he had been arrested by a previous foster mother for criminal threats. He loved this new foster family, describing it as the closest thing he has ever had to a family but is now charged with killing the foster father, their 17-year-old son, and stabbing the foster mother and her brother in the throat He spared the 14-year-old and 15-year-old daughters.
I was informed that Mr. Barton believes in reincarnation and they would all be together again. He did not harm himself although he had indicated that this was a murder suicide. He had mentioned that he cries each night before going to bed wondering if he should kill everyone else as well as himself. He had informed you that he disliked the son, Teo, seeing him growing up the same way, taking the same path, smoking weed, describing himself as a failure and a putz. He stabbed Teo in the neck initially and then he stabbed the adoptive mother in the neck when she came into the room, confronting him after hearing the noise. He then attacked the adoptive father, killing him. The mother and the uncle remained wounded but he asked her how it felt to die. He had the teenage girls with him in the room and cut the phone cord, but called 911 on a cell phone stating that he had just killed four people. He vacillated between being calm and agitated according to the girls.
Mr. Barton presents as a 19-year-old male who was of slight build but was willing to speak. He stated that he was not suicidal anymore but felt the need to be punished having killed two people and maybe a third on Saturday night. I initially asked him questions of orientation on a mini-mental state examination and he was oriented to time and place and could remember three words after a few minutes and could subtract serial sevens without difficulty and could spell the word World both forwards and backwards. He could identify simple objects and had a total score of 30 out of 30 on a mini-mental state examination. He showed no evidence of agnosia being able to identify geometric forms and on a modified Bender-Gestalt showed no evidence of motor-sensory incoordination. He could correctly draw a face of a clock with numbers in the correct position. He completed a simple trail-making test without any errors quickly and did the same on a more complicated trail-making test alternatively connecting numbers and letters quite well without any errors showing no evidence of confusion and demonstrating good planning and forethought.
He was born in Phoenix, Arizona on May 17, 1996 at 12:04 in the morning. His birth mother and father were not married and his mother was 18 when she delivered him. He already had an older brother who was born when the mother was 16. He reports his birth mother probably used methamphetamine while pregnant and also had a history of heroin and cocaine abuse and may not have used marijuana. He described being raised not very well. His father left the picture and random men whom he described as meth-heads showed up and ruined the life of his mother and himself.
At age 8 he moved to California where he stayed with another family friend for eight years. He was a good student at home schooling until he stopped caring about life, feeling that he didn't have much to live for. He began smoking marijuana at age 13 and currently smokes a few grams of “kief” daily which he describes as crystals from the leaf of the marijuana plant which is pure THC. He smoked marijuana daily except for about 20 days since January 1 of this year.
He also described having taken acid and mushrooms, both on three or four occasions. He denies the use of ecstasy, methamphetamine and cocaine stating that he doesn't do anything harder and prefers psychedelics which open his mind. After his first acid trip he began to believe in reincarnation even though he is agnostic and has no religious beliefs. He states since the age of 14 or 15 he would feel depressed and hold an Exacto knife for hours daily thinking about suicide. He had no friends in school, feeling nobody liked him and considered him a strange dude. He then offered that he will get punished for what he did.
At age 17 he was sent to juvenile hall after a scuffle with Denise (Laytonville foster mother, and family relation) who was taking care of him since age 8. He states he was going to kill himself at the time he got arrested. He demonstrated some of the scabs on his left forearm from putting out joints on his arm. He recalls being abused by one of his mother's boyfriends who was a gang member and beat him up physically with threats to kill him and his brother. At the mention of his brother who lives in Laytonville he began to cry and became quite tearful stating that he misses his family. He described himself as being quite lonely but had a girlfriend stating that girls do like him. He stated that all he really wanted to do was help people.
On Saturday night he was thinking of killing himself and taking people with him which was a new idea. He believed in the heat death of the universe, stating that all matter stays in the universe and then after reincarnation you could start a new life. He thought if he killed himself he would never be accepted and it would be so wrong that no one can forgive that. He stated that his foster family did love him unconditionally and became tearful because he couldn't feel it. At 17 he was the new member of the family, like a second fiddle with no guidance, feeling new to this world. He remained depressed but loved food and became obsessed with sugar which made him happy. He thought that nobody cared about him since his biological mother left and he has only seen her once since the seventh grade. He recalls that his father helped setting up metal concerts and smoked weed.
He states that marijuana helped him not to think and he has felt meaningless since age eight with thoughts of killing himself from time to time. He denies having auditory or visual hallucinations. He states he believed in a new world order describing this as extremely rich people who create the New World and the president as a figurehead. He went on to describe this as BS. He has a philosophy of life in which people can eventually create their own heaven by recycling until they get it right. He does play the guitar and write songs and is into physical exercise and boxing and tae kwon do. His music teacher died of cancer a few years ago and he became tearful thinking about that.
He has never been diagnosed with ADHD although he describes himself as being hyper at times but has never been on Adderall or in the hospital. He likes to read Stephen King and other such novels and goes on to describe this world as being boring with no one coming in. He began to believe in reincarnation after his first acid trip at age 17 when he felt connected to everything after this experience. He was in high school at that time. He did worse during his senior year because he didn't care and described his sense of apathy and not being able to feel shit.
He feels really really bad remorse stating that the murders feel senseless now. At the time, they seemed like it was only choice because he had no life and felt useless. He doesn't feel any different being off of marijuana for the past 24 hours and states he is not addicted to it, having been off of it some 20 days since January 1.
He describes themes of loneliness, being disconnected and having no one. He had an Alaskan Husky dog who was killed by one of his mother's boyfriends that he felt closer to than he did to his mother. He states he feels a sense of neglect and didn't get raised right. He has no imaginary friends going on to say that he is sane. He states he killed his best friend and hopes that he will get the electric chair and a lot of punishment.
This is his first time in jail and he keeps to himself not interacting with others. He tries to get some sleep and food is not too tasty. He described being in counseling during his teenage years but that was superficial and without any depth as a counselor just seemed to want to shoot the shit. He states he wants to call his biological mother and tell her that he killed three people and is not her son anymore. He feels he doesn't belong to anyone.
In regard to the events of the time he stated that he killed Teo by stabbing him in the throat and recalls him screaming. Stepmother Cindy came into the room and he stabbed her and then felt "Oh fuck. I didn't want to do that." However, he left her there and then stabbed his foster father and then the whole house awoke. He does recall being with teenage girls and at one point offering them cookies. He did cut the cords to phone and stated that, I killed the people I wanted to kill, describing the foster father as a useless electrician who had no license and relied on Cindy.
He describes Teo as being never happy and always bitching and that they would be better off with reincarnation. However, he identified his foster mother as a saint. He states he felt like shit going through this and that there was no emotional release. He states he was going to kill himself but was interrupted after he stabbed his foster mother who he had not intended to stab. He states he thought about killing Teo and the foster mother as part of a murder suicide pact and knew that this was the wrong thing to do. Nevertheless he gave himself permission to do so in spite of his belief in reincarnation and he admits that he is afraid of death. He felt some relief when police arrived.
Mr. Barton presents as a 19-year-old male with possible methamphetamine exposure in utero and traumatic and neglectful upbringing including sexual and physical abuse. He began to feel depressed quite young and by age 13 was smoking marijuana regularly and has continued to do so until the present. He did not do well at his Senior year in high school stating that he didn't care and at one point described himself as a pothead.
Has felt disconnected, lonely and having a lack of bonding even with the new foster family that took him in at age 17. He described the 17-year-old victim and the foster father in very negative terms and planned a murder suicide which went awry after he stabbed his foster mother. He had a belief in reincarnation after his first exposure to LSD stating that one could improve in a subsequent life.
He was not dissociated during the stabbings and showed little evidence of release. He was regretful that he had stabbed his foster mother which derailed his suicide attempt. He was not hearing voices or having command hallucinations. He was chronically depressed with a history of self ingestion of marijuana.
He indicated that he was aware of the wrongfulness of the murders and knew that murdering was wrong. He now feels a great sense of remorse and wishes for severe punishment.
Posttraumatic stress disorder can be considered with depression in Mr. Barton. He self medicated with marijuana which never really solved his problems of detachment and longing. He has expressed feelings of not being accepted or being able to feel the love of others. He was not psychotic at the time of the killings and to the best degree of medical certainty shows that he was aware of the nature and quality of his actions as well as the wrongfulness. This was a murder suicide attempt that had gone awry. Respectfully submitted, Donald Apostle MD
Letter From Talen Barton To His Friend, Griff Ollar:
Thank you for writing! I hope you are doing well as I hope everyone is doing well. I'm incredibly curious about who all returned to school and how this year is treating you.
I apologize for not having written sooner. Trust me in saying that this is the soonest I could. You ask me three questions in your letter and I'll try to answer them as best I can.
You have great faith in me when you say you don't believe I did my deeds in a sane frame of mind. I'm sorry to say I did. As unfortunate as this whole situation is it’s one caused 110% buy me, while rational. What was my motive? Truly, simply, hatred. A lot of it was due to a fermenting hatred for Teo, caused by strife and petty squabbles. More than that though, it came about due to a deep self-loathing brought about by years of mistakes and lies made mostly by me but also by others. The buildup to this took years but the events that took place directly prior to the incident are something like this:
I returned to Laytonville, incredibly dejected because I absolutely hate that tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. Cindy and Coleman are incredibly kind and let me live with them again. Rowyn's stepfather, Mike, gave me a job moving large rounds of wood across his property. This was when discord first formed between Mike and I as I was apathetic and failed to call him for more work. It was a stupid decision but I considered it to be more interesting to just smoke marijuana all day. After that it became very difficult to find a job. Coleman soon became angry with me and I was threatened with expulsion from the home. I more than deserved this.
Rowyn returned home on my birthday and I went to his house to hang out with him, Gil and Daniel. I was entirely depressed by this point. Mike made it very clear I wasn't welcome but as a favor that I didn't deserve he gave me a number of friend who gave me a job. This worked out well. I had that job up until I was put in here but soon Rowyn's family no longer liked me. They were pretty much my family and I couldn't deal with that even though I caused it.
During this time Teo annoyed me beyond belief. A lot of it had to do with smoking and once he tried to attack me so I decided not to deal with his shit anymore. But he wouldn't leave me alone. Nobody deserved what I did to them but I simply lost my patience and decided that night to remove the thing that annoyed me most: Teo. It was incredibly rash. I no longer placed any value on anything, especially life.
Everything snowballed from there into a hellish night that eventually came to your second question: Me calling 911. I hurt a lot of people who never deserved it that night. There was no rational reason for doing this. After I stabbed Teo he screamed and I knew I couldn't get away. From then on I was acting on fear. Eventually four of us sat in the same living room. Teo pleaded with me to save his sister. His daughter pleaded with me to save her dad. Cindi's daughter cried because she thought she'd last lost her whole family. I've brought so much pain to such good people. I was scared but it was my choices that had brought this on me and I had another choice to make. Nothing I did that night was right or fair but I'm proud of my last choice.
Why did I smirk? I never saw my mugshot but I tried to smile. Apparently they have lots of drugs in prison so the pot I smoked at night may not be my last. But I'm glad to be sober. I offered Teo at toke while he was bleeding for the pain. He declined.
As for my future I took a plea deal and got 71 years to life in prison. I'll have my mom keep you updated on my address if you still want to write to me.
My friendship with you was one of my favorites. I considered your family as my friends are my true family. I appreciate that you thought the same of me.
I wish you luck in everything you do. Pass my greetings to our friends if you get a chance. I'm sorry to have been a disappointment. Take care. Much love to my brother. Talen Barton
PS. Can I ask a favor of you? Can you give the other letter to Rowyn? It’s futile to apologize but I have to try.
* * *
I hope you and Kelsey are well. I hope school’s going well for you too. There's no adequate way to express how I feel. I'm sorry is hollow but it's the truth. I'm getting off too easy for caving in my best friend’s family, his world. If I could change I would. I'm a fool. To have something so good and throw it away. Your friendship was the most valuable I ever had. It was all I tried to cling to. I'm sorry to have brought you this pain. Everything you ever did for me was too good. You helped me in life when I didn't even help myself. There's so much I could say. I'm truly sorry. I will be for many lifetimes. Take care. Good luck. Talen.