Anonymous letter responds to decades old cold case

PITTSBURGH — There are new developments in a decades old unsolved murder just a few months after an exclusive Target 11 investigation.

In November, investigator Rick Earle reported on the shocking unsolved murder of six-year-old Beth Lynn Barr back in 1977, who disappeared while walking home from school.

It was believed she was abducted by a man in a car. Less than two years later, her body was found in a shallow grave near a cemetery in Monroeville, about six miles from where she was abducted.

After our story, police received a four-page, handwritten letter pointing to a possible suspect.

“My first thought was very hopeful, like well maybe this will have some answers and to actually get a physical letter,” said Donna Barr, Beth Lynn Barr’s mother.

The letter, which was not signed, suggest that a deceased former police officer may have abducted and murdered Beth. A witness said she saw the girl talking to a man and then getting in the car with him. No one was ever charged with the crime.

The anonymous author wrote: “In 1977, I was one of many who went to search for this beautiful innocent ‘lil girl. This case has affected me my entire adult life.”

She goes on to say she knows Beth’s parents and then poses a question.

“I am wondering and have been, if someone is deceased, yet worked as a police officer, if perhaps their fingerprints/DNA could possibly help to solve this horrendous heartbreaking case? So that Beth’s soul/spirit, and Charlie and Donna, could finally have closure. I feel so terrible at even writing and sending this to you.”

Edgewood Police Chief Bobby Payne worked the case as an Allegheny County police investigator. He reviewed the letter.

“I read this letter many, many times. I try to digest what was being said by a female writer,” said Payne.

Payne said the officer in question was never a suspect. And he said the letter fails to offer any real proof.

“There were no grounds for those suspicions that I can see in her letter whatsoever. There was no evidence that would point to the fact that this police officer or any other police officer would have been involved in the abduction and murder of this young girl,” Payne said.

Donna Barr said she knew the officer and was shocked when she saw his name in the letter.

“I find it hard to believe for a lot of reasons. I was completely shocked; you know very nice guy. So, I don’t know what to think about that,” Barr said.

While the author raises some legitimate points about the case, she then goes off on several tangents, describing strange interactions with the police officer and how she loved him.

She ends the letter writing: “I am not ending this by signing my name.  I will come forward if this is ever proven. I vowed years ago that I will not stop when it comes to Beth Lynn Barr, and after seeing Donna Barr on the news last night, I knew I had to reach out to you!!  Please take me seriously. Thank you, God Bless and stay safe.”

Donna Barr said she’s gone over it many times, but still doesn’t know who wrote the letter. Meanwhile, Chief Payne is urging the author to reveal herself.

“As it stands right now, if this woman is not willing to come forward and sit down face to face and not have an interview with an interrogation, I don’t see any value in that letter there’s no evidentiary value whatsoever,” Payne said.

In addition to the anonymous letter, Donna Barr received calls and emails from people after our initial story aired in November.

Barr said it has now given her some renewed hope that people haven’t forgotten and that someday investigators will discover who killed her little girl.

“It touches my heart very deeply.  It reassures me that she’s not forgotten,” Barr said.

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