A local man who has been charged with harassing a couple in West Plains, Mo., is believed to be the same man who recently sent demanding letters to several banks in the same area demanding money and a new vehicle. Gaston R. Barnett, 72, of Salem, Ark., has been charged with harassing the couple and threatening to kill them.
During the first week of September, several banks in West Plains received letters demanding $1,000 per month and a new car. The author wrote in the letter that if the banks didn't comply, "I have a military unit on standby alert twenty four seven that can toss a blanket over any city with a population of ten thousand or more within thirty minutes or a county within an hour, I also have two satellites in space monitering my every movement 24 7." Currently, Barnett has not been charged in that case.
Barnett is now charged with two counts of harassment, which are misdemeanors in Howell County, according to the Howell County Sheriff's Department report.
According to the sheriff's department, Barnett allegedly wrote various letters during the month of August to Bobby and Marge Bridges. One letter, addressed to the couple, demanded that they drop a grocery bag filled with new $100 bills at his doorstep and asked in the first line of the letter, "Do you want to live?" Another letter went into detail as to what would happen to the family if they did not do as the writer demanded. The letter was approximately 14 pages long. "If you don't comply, I'm going to have one my well rigs pulled into your back lawn, drill me a hole deep enough to toss you both down in it, time you both hit bottom, you be dead, you be taken by gunpoint, you refuse, you be cut to ribbons, tossed in the hole anyways both yours, plus Jr and Lyndal and some their rotten children that was involved in it too," the letter states.
Another letter was sent to the couple stating, "More pain is coming yore way, until you do then when it gets to where you can't stand no more pain. You and yore little honey will be dead, from starvation, then dropped down into a big round deep hole, about a thousand foot deep."
It is believed Barnett also sent a letter to Junior and Lyndall Bridges writing, "There's only one way that you and your little brother Bobby and you spouses stay alive and that's by your working for me...I'm going too offer the 2 of you and extension on life including you children and grandchildren that you two involved in the 1993 abduction or deal of me, Go get 5 arm duffle bags and fill the 5 with new 100 dollar bills, bring them down to my pickup truck that will have a blue tarp over the bed, roll the 5 army duffle bags into the back my truck on Tuesday 26th August, 2008, and close my chev pickup tail gate backup, if you should decide to decline my offer, you all shall be dead within 48 hours..."
On Sept. 25, Barnett allegedly sent another letter to Junior and Lyndall Bridges, threatening torture and believing that the two of them were responsible for torturing Barnett in the past. "Do your remember how you electrocuted me in August 1993 tied to a chair out at your farm South West Plains, MO. That's what I planned for the 2 of you since you failed too come settle the house bringing me the keys I had wrote you, asking for," the letter states. "I personally don't think that either one of you can survive any electrocution as bad a health as the 2 of you are in, but, we shall see, after Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. the deadline of not proceeding what I ask for..."
Lyndall Bridges also reported on Aug. 26 that Barnett came to her residence uninvited. He also parked in her driveway on Sept. 23.
The Bridges are Barnett's in-laws.
Howell County Sheriff Robbie Crites wrote in a statement that "information was received that Barnett recently purchased a handgun from a neighbor in Arkansas, and Barnett continues to send threatening letters with demands and specific details of how he will kill the defendants."
Because of this information Sheriff Crites also wrote that Barnett is "a danger to the community because (of) the general threats to cause harm to citizens, plus the recent letters demanding money and goods from Howell County businesses."
However, according to Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger, Barnett has in the past written long rambling letters to people in the Viola and Salem areas who made him angry, but he has never acted on them.
Barnett was arrested Oct. 2. He was being held at the Howell County Jail with his bond set at $2,500. He met his bond Oct. 6 and was released.