Police: Randle Barrow’s Mother Drowned Him in Tennessee River, Then Killed Herself

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office has released information about an apparent murder-suicide involving a mother and her 8-year-old son.  Deputies say Randle Barrow’s mother drowned him in the Tennessee River, and then committed suicide.

Randle Barrow, 8

Randle Barrow, 8

Marshall County deputies found Randle’s body around midnight Sunday morning. They had been looking for the boy, who they say had autism,  since Saturday morning when Huntsville Police went to his home to check on him.  They had gotten a call that he had been missing from school for two days.

Officers say they didn’t get a response from inside the home, and then noticed the home was on fire.

“They immediately notified Huntsville Fire, and they started to try to make entry to the house,” said Lieutenant Dewayne McCarver.

Firefighters put out the blaze and they say that’s when they found Randle’s mother, Delicia Barrow, inside.  Her death was under investigation, however Sunday night, investigators said it appears Barrow had committed suicide.

Huntsville Police say they found a note inside the home, and contacted Marshall County deputies for further assistance.  “There was a note that evidently his mother had left that basically gave us some clues as to where he could be found,” Marshall County Sheriff Scott Walls says.  .
Deputies say they searched the shore line north of Guntersville, and found Randle’s body in the Honeycomb area near Sunrise Marina.

Delicia Barrow, after her arrest in October 2013 (Huntsville/Madison Co. Jail)

Delicia Barrow, after her arrest in October 2013 (Huntsville/Madison Co. Jail)

Deputies say it appears Delicia Barrow drove her son to Marshall County and drowned him in the Tennessee River.  They say they believe she returned to her Huntsville home, where she apparently committed suicide.

Deputies are still investigating.  They are awaiting the report on the full autopsies from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. “Pending the autopsy being what we expect it to be, along with information from the Huntsville Police Department, this case will be closed,” Sheriff Walls says.

Right now the Sheriff’s Office is working Randle’s death investigation, and the Huntsville Police Department is working his mother’s.

Delicia Barrow was arrested earlier this year on assault charges.  She was accused of stabbing a nurse at Huntsville Hospital, according to our news partners The Huntsville Times/al.com.

Close friends of the Barrows tell WHNT News 19 Randle’s father died when Randle was a baby.

For several weeks, Randle was in the temporary custody of Demetrius Bell and his wife.  Randle’s mother, who is Bell’s good friend, voluntarily put her son in their care because of her health issues. “The whole idea was when she got better, we would just return him to her care,” Bell says.

Just recently Randle’s mother asked for him back. Bell says in the days leading up to Saturday, she became harder and harder to reach.

Saturday morning, Bell got a phone call that something might be wrong. “The director of the school that he attends, the Riley Center, called us and told us she was concerned,” Bell says.

Bell went to Barrow’s home and learned Randle was missing.

Bell says Randle was a happy, loving little boy.  He said Randle responded well to authority, and his autism is moderate.

Bell says Randle’s mother designated himself and his wife as permanent legal guardians for Randle in her Last Will and Testament.

Melody Crane, director of the Riley Behavioral and Educational Center, an autism center in Huntsville where Randle was enrolled, sent out a press release Monday morning. She wrote:

“After having worked closely with authorities following Randle’s absences from school, we were contacted early Sunday morning by investigators to inform us that Randle Barrow’s body was recovered from Guntersville Lake. No other details surrounding Randle’s death have been released to us at this time. We are shocked and so very deeply saddened by this loss. Randle was a joy every day he was with us. He was always smiling, giggling and greeting those around him. His concern and caring for his classmates and teachers were evident every day. Randle will be greatly missed and our hearts go out to his family.”


  • justin

    I knew they and Randle play on a baseball team with my niece called the royals. The team is for disabled kids and adult called The Miracle League. God Bless

  • April

    I would start the search like the baby’s day out book. Where does he go odten? Where does he like to go? Where would he want to go (ex. Airport if he loves planes) just throwing an idea out…

    • cubeangel

      It has a lot to do with it. She is looking at the way things are done today. Mindy, the thing is these families are not going to receive any help whatsoever. You would have to challenge certain ideas and ideals our nation has like extreme independence and self-reliance. This mother needed help emotionally, spiritually and probably financially. We’re all expected to “pull ourselves by our bootstraps” and not need others.

      In addition, you would have to question the idea of the internal locus of control that Americans have and question the idea that everyone has control of their own fates and lives. We would have to become more community minded as a society and reject some of this individualistic ethos.

      I predict I will be called a communist, a socialist or a liberal with no moral values whatsoever. So Mindy, I’m just speaking hot air to the wind. To solve these issues, we would have to question our very identity of our nation, who we are, our ethos and our values. It won’t happen, ergo, we will have more cases like this and more school shootings.

  • Sistaz

    I agree like what did his mother kill him and then set herself on fire or what I don’t get this story at all. The caregivers that’s just a strange situation.

  • mega78

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family’s. I hope and pray that JUSTICE is served and the person/persons who did this pay for what they did to this sweet child.

  • Cole Phelps

    I knew Delicia Barrow through a Literature Evangelist group along time ago. She was a devoted leader of the ministry over the young people but from I remember, she was a cruel woman…very difficult to like and after hearing the news report, a cold blooded reptilian murderer. I know only god can judge such a creature. but because I have 3 kids myself, I have no sympathy for her especially after she the ultimate took the cowards way out. R.I.P. Randel…..(EDITED) Delicia Barrow

    • Mimi

      I also knew her through this program and never saw her do or say anything cruel. She was firm but never cruel. I actually thought that she was kind. I don’t think that we should be so quick to believe that she murdered her son until all of the details are released. Right now there are too many holes to this story and I am having a hard time believing the police’s theory.

      • Cole Phelps

        Well I must’ve saw something u didn’t see back then. I know u might find it hard to believe but believe it. A house catch on fire, a note found in the house leading to her son floating in the Tennessee river, coincidence? I think not.

    • Mimi

      Do you know of certainty that she wrote the note? I think more research is needed to verify that she wrote the note and whether it stated that she drowned her son.

    • Maria Flanders

      I had EXTENSIVE contact with the Barrows from 1999-2006. I’m sure Cole worked with my children. I DO NOT KNOW who this “cruel ” person he is referring to! She was fair, firm, devoted & dedicated to the program. There were times, she had to invoke the established consequences of sending individuals home for violation of Pre-specified rules. Some were bitter and will use this opportunity as a means of revenge if this is their reference if describing her as. “Difficult”.

      I am in NO MEANS CONDONING THE REPORTED ACTIONS. I feel that ALL the EXTENUATING facts haven’t been reported. Based on the following life changing events for Delecua, , how many can honestly say they could remain rational WITHOUT counseling, support nucleus or family support?

      First, let me explain the nature if their job. They were responsible for coordinating AND training teams to go door to door working for scholarships. This included travel arrangements, food lodging, inventory, etc. Some teams represented ALL of North America.) Turn around was frequent and the program was harder than some anticipated. Therefore, some didn’t finish NOR return to program. Once education was complete, those who had repeatedly joined teams moved on (LIFE).

      1. Delecia. & Renee Barrow devoted their lives to Literature Evangelistic Work. Even during Delicia’s pregnancy, she assisted students in earning scholarships for their education.
      2. When Randle was born, they made a family decision to cut back the amount of time in the program, but still doing what they love.
      3. While the family was enroute to taking 2 yr Randle to Horse Therapy, they were UNEXPECTANTLY involved in a fatal accident that SEVERLY INJURED Delecia, INSTANTLY making her a widow and single parent of an exceptional child.
      4. LOSS OF: HUSBAND, HEALTH, FINACIAL INCOME AND LIFESTYLE AS SHE KNEW IT. Everyone went on with their lives. & Delecia was stuck in a nightmare ALL ALONE!

      Why didn’t the medical professionals recognize the NECESSITY of help, monitoring, counseling, etc. She stabs someone & NO ONE FELT A NEED FOR A MENTAL EVALUATION? Now everyone wants to talk about her & check into her background. Where was all the investigation before this tragedy? How many more deaths does this nation have to read about before we SERIOUSLY address mental issues in this country?

      • Ashley

        Well said, I thought the same and I also thought if she had stabbed a nurse why was her autistic child left in her care ? Something obviously was wrong…normal ppl don’t go around stabbing nurses in hospitals.

  • R

    I feel so sorry for the whole situation. I understand the mother was sick, Maybe she got bad news, and did not want leave her chlld behind all alone in this world. Sometimes when people are desparate, they make irrational desicions that they would take back if they could. The little boy is in heaven now, and I pray that god will forgive th mother for wha she has done.

  • Jess O'Penna.

    I’m sorry to preach– what matters here is that now no one will ever know what Randle could have been– but this is the outcome of calling autism a tragedy and considering the people it is part of “defective,” “broken,” and “less.” His mother might have done the killing, but this boy’s blood is also on the mainstream media’s and Autism Speaks’ hands.

    Rest in peace, little one.

    • Lily

      Labeling of any kind is so wrong. And the way people speak about us. I am high functioning AS, and when a co-worker overheard this, he threatened my life, stating I don’t deserve to be alive. Bulling is the cause of many issues in our community. And the worse is the endifference that the majority has. Not all on the spectrum has lower intelligence or suffer complete melt downs due to overload to their sensory issues. Not many people are willing to help in the agencies that are suppose to help. Humanity is becoming endangered. Not helping one another is cutting the throat of society. This is a very sad situation. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family…

  • Maria Flanders

    The “monster” portrayed by the media is COMPLETELY out of character of the woman I grew to know & love. As Cole has already pointed out, she was devoted to the ministry. She and her husband dedicated their lives to the scholarship program. She lost her husband tragically & completely unexpected. Her whole NUCLEUS of life changed. Health prevented her from doing the work she loved. The struggle of a single parent was amplified to the highest degree by her son’s exceptionality. The cluster of family ties she had developed over the years was INSTANTLY severed with NO replacement. Everyone grew up & moved on, but Delecis was stuck. NO ONE TOOK INTO CONSIDERATION THAT SHE LOST HER SPOUSE, HEALTH & LIVELYHOOD COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED WITH NOTHING TO FILL THE MASSIVE VOID. Delecia communicated to me often her fear of someone hurting Randle and her inability to protect him. Yes, THIS IS TRAGIC, to think that when she felt her only protection for her child when she was giving up was the reported end results.

    When she assaulted the nurse, why wasn’t a mental wellness check done? It is SOO easy to judge with partial facts! I MUST DISAGREE WITH COLE and some his contradictory statements. As a parent I entrusted my minor children in her care to participate in the Literature Evangelist program from 1999-2006. She WAS dedicated to the ministry! In my extensive contact, communication and interaction I have NEVER known her to be cruel or cold. She was warm, honest and I proudly bragged about her & Renee being my children’s substitute parents. There were rules to the program and I have seen her implement the CLEAR consequences of the students actions. Children often think that when you reap the consequences of your own actions as being cruel, I totally disagree Cole. My heart is heavy of the ENTIRE situation!

  • Mindy

    Cole Phelps…that is really a horrible thing to say. You have no idea what their lives were like. She may have had good reason for acting the way she did. It is a VERY stressful life…especially when the child(ren) are young and hard to reason with. Do you even HAVE an autistic child? This is nothing new. It is happening more and more. The majority of the time it is not that the mother is being cruel but she sees it as the only way out for her and her child because the rest of the world is cruel. Unless you have lived that…you will NEVER understand.
    It’s not that the mother should be condemned…but it’s time for us as society to take a long hard SERIOUS look at autism. The “Baby Boomers” of this autism holocaust are now adults. There is NOTHING in place for them. Until we see a real change AND SOME HELP FOR THESE FAMILIES…this problem is only going to get worse. It is a tragedy. I feel for the child. I feel for the mother. I feel for their loved ones mourning right now.

  • franky hernandez

    I work with randles uncle. This is just tragic. As a father, my heart is crushed. No one really knows what a person is going through to do something like this….but that boy deserved a chance regardless. Look for those warning signs and look out for your family and friends. Help and love each other. You never know who is ready to crack under the pressure. May god bless you and keep you Randle. May he lift you from the river and cradle you always. Rest in peace….

  • toomuch

    I am sorry to say but if she was such a great part of this church or organization when her tragedy occurred….why would she be alone….she was such a dedicated person for 7 yrs….yes its tragic her life fell apart….but people lose spouses and become single caregivers everyday this is never an excuse to kill your children….if you want to kill yourself then do it….but there is no excuse no reason no faith no person who can take an innocent childs life and its ok in any defense….yes we dont know the whole story and may never know but we do know an innocent child has been killed over a selfless act…..

  • Joanne Whitehead

    While my heart indeed goes out for a little boy who lost his life so young, we can’t judge this woman. What she did was wrong but if she was sick & not in her right frame of mind, who knows what was going through her mind. I have a 26 year old son with autism who I wouldn’t hurt for anything but I have suffered depression for years. People misunderstand depression. They think that because a person has all their limbs & is not vomiting, that they are all right. Sadly that is not the case most of the time, therefore we should not judge this woman. Assuming that the illness she had was depression as there was no mention of what the illness was.

  • Shakira Green

    December 17. Randle’s birthday celebrate him with kindness and love please all week long please……Tres R.I.P your sadness is over your pain is over your hurt is over just sorry it ended this way escaped it to leave it. I’m mad but I saw your pain she was truly in pain some of you don’t know the half of what she was going through.. just sad Randle had to go with her..pray for her sister she is trying to be so strong but I know it’s hard for her I see her cry sad day. You just Don’t know the half….

  • Kenneth Pitt

    O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
    2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
    You understand my thought afar off.
    3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
    And are acquainted with all my ways.
    4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
    But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
    5 You have hedged me behind and before,
    And laid Your hand upon me.
    6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    It is high, I cannot attain it.

    7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
    Or where can I flee from Your presence?
    8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
    If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
    9 If I take the wings of the morning,
    And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
    10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
    And Your right hand shall hold me.
    11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
    Even the night shall be light about me;
    12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
    But the night shines as the day;
    The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

    13 For You formed my inward parts;
    You covered me in my mother’s womb.
    14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
    Marvelous are Your works,
    And that my soul knows very well.
    15 My frame was not hidden from You,
    When I was made in secret,
    And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
    16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
    And in Your book they all were written,
    The days fashioned for me,
    When as yet there were none of them.

    17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
    How great is the sum of them!
    18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
    When I awake, I am still with You.

    19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
    Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
    20 For they speak against You wickedly;
    Your enemies take Your name in vain.[c]
    21 Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
    22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

    23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    Try me, and know my anxieties;
    24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
    And lead me in the way everlasting.

    Let God Be her judge!

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