Lindon Barrett, a prominent former UC Irvine professor was found dead in his Long Beach apartment on July 13. Long Beach Police Department officials suspect the cause could be homicide.
Barrett’s body was discovered at his home in the Kress Building Lofts on the 100 block of West Fifth after neighbors complained of a foul odor emanating from his apartment. The official date and cause of death have yet to be determined, pending the completion of Barrett’s toxicology report.
Approximately 12 hours after the discovery, Marlon Martinez, a 21-year-old construction worker, was arrested after he was found with Barrett’s missing vehicle, a black Lexus. Martinez has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bail. His arraignment is scheduled for August 28.
Detective Russ Moss of the Long Beach Police Department was unable to provide detailed information regarding the case due to its ongoing nature. Despite this, Moss explained that Long Beach police were able to make the arrest on the grounds of Martinez’s incriminating statement and the suspect’s possession of Barrett’s vehicle.
Although Martinez and Barrett were acquaintances, the nature of their relationship and whether it may have provided a motive is presently unclear. Moss stated that there are currently no other suspects being investigated.
A professor in the English, Comparative Literature and African-American Studies departments at UC Irvine, Barrett was also among the founding faculty of the Program in African-American Studies in 1994 and held the Directorship of the African-American department from 2004 until his departure. In 2007 Barrett left UCI in order to teach at UC Riverside.
The 46-year-old professor’s death has prompted a deluge of sadness from both UCI and UCR students.
“He showed so much potential for change in the university for the good of all students,” said Kevin Robert, a third-year student at UCR.
Barrett’s ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean in a private ceremony held by his family in Newport Beach on July 22.
“It was an appropriate and beautiful ceremony. Everyone was very touched and everyone who was there loved and respected him,” said Donna Iliescu, Program Manager of the African-American Studies program at UCI.
Iliescu came to know Barrett in 1999 and described him as being well liked by students and dedicated to teaching and educational outreach.
“[Barrett] was always very friendly. He never turned anyone away. Whoever did this to him was obviously not a close acquaintance; if they knew who [Barrett] was and what he stood for, they wouldn’t have done this. He was one of the most brilliant people I have ever met and [this tragedy] makes me sad and angry,” Iliescu said.
Anyone with information regarding the case should contact Detective Moss or Detective Terri Hubert at (562) 570-7244.