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Michael Barber's Accused Killer Under Arrest

Ft. Lauderdale Murder Suspect Seized in Detroit

Andrew Fred Delaney, 24, Picked Out in Photo

By Jack Nichols

flakiller.jpg - 9.88 K Ft. Lauderdale--Michael Barber had set himself a steady course since leaving Denver, Colorado in late1996. He'd hoped to find a place under Florida's welcoming sun where he'd work at ease among his beloved plants. Behind him he left memories of halcyon days, Colorado Rocky Mountain Highs.

He was a slightly built man, elfin and bearded. He talked about metaphysics. His zest for life showed in the care he gave to gardens.

Barber had traveled in a van, returning south after a 20 year absence, bringing his two dogs along. He'd sold his Denver home at a small profit and at first had put down roots near Route 1 in Rockledge, Florida. He had also purchased a small condominium in nearby Cocoa Beach.

Among his treasured belongings were photographs of gardens he'd tended through the years. At least once a week he visited his mother, Dorothy, in Indian Harbor Beach. Barber boasted that his Rockledge home's best feature had been a back yard proving suitable for his well-cared-for pets.

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He'd done photography for a Denver gay newsmagazine, he explained to Central Floridians, and while in Brevard County he'd attended local meetings where discussions took place about gay/queer liberation.

Reconnecting with an old friend further south impelled him, in part, to pull up Central Florida roots as soon as he'd established them, packing his van, renting his condominium, putting his home on the market and moving almost impulsively to South Florida. He was delighted at quickly finding lodgings that would allow his dogs.

The kindly gardener was new to Ft. Lauderdale's offerings. According to police he was last seen in the company of the man now accused of having murdered him, Andrew Fred Delaney, 24, of Detroit Michigan. Neighbors picked Delaney's photo out of a line-up, saying they'd seen him with Barber.

Delaney was arrested in hiding at his mother's Detroit home. He'd reportedly abandoned Michael Barber's 1992 Ford Explorer in Boynton Beach were it had failed as reliable transportation but had lugged electronic equipment he'd stolen from Barber's Ft. Lauderdale home all the way to Detroit via a bus.

Delaney's crime, reportedly, is robbery. He is said to have been known in and around Ft. Lauderdale as a sex worker who visited nightclubs in search of john-clients. With his capture, Ft. Lauderdale's activists released a warning to those gay males and lesbians who too carelessly court the offerings of the city's nightlife.

"Ft. Lauderdale's beautiful beaches bring all kinds of people from everywhere to live," said a recently settled resident.

Delaney has also been identified as having membership in a violent gang, Folk Nation. The credo of this group—with respect to homosexuality—may, some think, provide further clues as to the killer's motivations.

Michael Barber was found face down in his home wrapped to his shoulders in a plastic bag and stabbed. Neighbors called a landlord who discovered his body.

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