Posted on March 14, 2013 at 6:26 AM
Thursday, Mar 14 at 7:01 PM
TACOMA, Wash. -- The search for a Puyallup woman came to a tragic end Thursday after she was found dead at a Tacoma hotel and her husband was placed in police custody.
Police found Sara Barrett’s body at a Motel 6 just off I-5 in Tacoma early Thursday morning. Police said they initially thought she was killed inside the motel, but when they found blood inside her car at her office, they weren’t so sure.
Before Barrett’s body was found, police say her husband, Tony Barrett, 43, reportedly called friends and family early Thursday morning, saying he had done something terrible: He had killed his wife.
Police spotted him driving the wrong way in downtown Tacoma around 2:30 a.m. He led police on an overnight chase that ended across the Narrows Bridge in Gig Harbor. Police managed to stop his car with a spike strip; after a scuffle with officers, Barrett was taken into police custody and is currently in Tacoma General Hospital with minor injuries.
Sarah and Tony Barrett, who had three sons, were estranged and had a history of domestic violence.
Friends said there were two sides to their 28-year relationship. They looked like a happy couple, but had a violent history. It was a relationship Sara’s friends say she was trying to leave when she was killed.
“Everybody was in awe of them…They were that adorable couple that everyone looks at and say, oh, I wish I had that,” said friend Jennifer Hall.
In 2008, Tony Barrett was convicted of assault. He choked and smothered Sara with a pillow, while threatening to kill her. Both Barretts filed restraining orders against each other in 2009. In 2012, Sara filed another restraining order against him, but it was dismissed because of failure to appear in court.
Despite Tony’s conviction for assaulting Sara and a number of restraining orders, Hall says she saw them together often, as recently as two weeks ago.
“She just kind of babied him through the separation, that it would be easier on him and easier on her to move on,” said Hall. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
The director of the Tacoma YWCA saw the events unfold on television and said Sara’s struggles to leave her abuser are shared by many.
“The average nationally is that it takes seven tries of breaking away from a violent relationship to make that final break,” she said.
In the meantime, the Barrett family grieves for both parents. They had been planning and looking forward to celebrating Sara's birthday in two weeks.
Tony Barrett has worked as a delivery truck driver for Tacoma Public Schools for more than a decade. Sara worked at Pier One's distribution warehouse in Dupont. Her employers released this statement:
"Our hearts go out to our associate, her family and our community. We thank you for your thoughts during this tie. We will continue to fully cooperate with local authorities regarding the recent tragedy."
If you are a victim of domestic violence, there is help available. Call the Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-562-6025.