Local News

Slain Mother Had Filed Numerous Police Reports For Harassment

Posted May 8, 2006
Updated February 2, 2009

— For at least three years before her death, a slain Clayton woman tried to protect herself against harassment, but it apparently was not enough to save her life.

Court records show that Rhonda Barnes reported five incidents of vandalism, and at one point, filed a protective order at four different police departments over a three-year period. In at least one of the vandalism reports, she named her ex-boyfriend, Dennis Shaw, as a suspect.

Barnes, 38, was found dead in her Grovewood Drive home on April 18. Shaw, who is also the father of the oldest of Barnes' three children, was arrested last week in connection with her death.

According to records, in August 2004, someone slashed Barnes' tires and tampered with her car's gas tank in Kenly. In February 2005, someone broke into her Clayton home and set her bed on fire.

Two months later, Barnes' tires were slashed, and her car was vandalized again outside her church, where someone also posted negative fliers about her.

And just one week before her death, once again, someone damaged her car and spray-painted her house.

"That it went on for so long and that a lot of things he was doing were public in nature, like vandalism, like slashing tires, like setting things on fire -- that would be a red flag to me that this person was dangerous," said Marie Brodie, with the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Brodie said many domestic homicides begin with harassment and vandalism.

"The statement (the would-be attacker is making) is, 'I will harm your things and I will also harm you,'" Brodie said.

Barnes' mother, Rosa Barnes, said her daughter believed Shaw had always been behind the harassment, but that no one, including the victim, thought her life was in danger.

"Many people had an opportunity to intervene and do something and say something to this man -- to stop, to leave her alone, not just law enforcement," Brodie said.

Barnes filed a protective order against Shaw in the Washington, D.C. area where he lived, but she did not have one on file where she lived in Johnston County.

So far, Shaw has not been charged with vandalism or harassment. He is still in jail in Washington, D.C., awaiting extradition back to North Carolina.


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