Still thinking about the Barbara Kelley/Red Baird case

It’s not often that I come across an old case of a missing child from the US that I’ve literally never heard of in my life, but when it happened the other day with 17-year-old Barbara Joe Kelley, missing since 1950, and I immediately added it to Charley.

Before the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office put up a listing of unsolved cold case homicides and missing persons (in chronological order with Barbara at the very bottom), she wasn’t listed anywhere. I’m hoping now that she’s on Charley, other databases will follow suit and add her. I found a better quality copy of the second photo I originally posted and replaced the image today.

I don’t think it’s possible to arrest anyone at this point; whoever did this is almost certainly dead. But it might still be possible to find Barbara and lay her to rest. And in any case, Barbara, Henry “Red” Baird, and this tragic mystery should be remembered and honored.

Gayle Patrick Irish seems like a good suspect to me. The fact that he is said to have been in a mental hospital at the time of his confession is not necessarily an indication he was mentally ill; back in those days a lot of state mental hospitals had dedicated units for “sexually disordered offenders” whose “disorder” was merely that they couldn’t seem to stop raping people or molesting kids.

At the time he was arrested for the sex crime for which he was incarcerated at the time of his confession to killing Barbara, Red, and the Marysville man, he had a hunting rifle in his possession. The police confiscated it, but they don’t seem to have paid any particular mind to it at the time. And why should they have? Irish wasn’t, at the time, suspected of having committed any crimes with a gun; all of his known offenses had been committed with his penis.

By the time Irish made his statements about the murders, the rifle had been lost and it was apparently never found. What a great shame that it was, cause it would have been nice to see if they could have made a ballistics comparison with the Kelley/Baird and Marysville crime scenes.

Unfortunately Irish disappears from the headlines after they were unable to locate Barbara’s body. I don’t know what happened to him or if he ever recanted his statements. If he was alive today he’d be over a hundred by now.


8 thoughts on “Still thinking about the Barbara Kelley/Red Baird case

  1. Colleen McHugh September 1, 2021 / 7:36 pm

    God Bless you and your moxie, perseverance and your never ending devotion to find out what happened to others loved ones. I can only pray that one day we can solve my Mom’s, Carol Joan McHugh, disappearance. Inverness Fl, June 8th, 2017. 72 years old, out for a walk at 2:30 pm. Two of my siblings live across the street from her, in individual homes. They didn’t call 911 until 10:30 pm!!!!! That was after calling me at 8:38 pm to ask if she was with me. When I told her she was not, she told me to never mind her call, that my Mom just turned the corner?????????? The deputies came to my friends home at 3:30 am to search for her. I asked to go to my Moms and help. They (siblings) took things out of my car and set them up behind my Moms house. A mop, a bucket, cleaning solution and a pressure washer. They told the Sheriffs dept. that I was obviously trying to cover something up. They also took my cell phone, planted it in my Moms house and dislocated the power to the driveway fence for me to leave. The search wad for 5 days. None of them helped. I was interrogated ted, investigated, gave my DNA and went through a surprise lie detector test. I did all of this without an an attorney, I simply wanted them to find my Mom. They had attorneys before they called 91-. Why did they wait so long to call, why did they try to make it as if I did something. They are using her house and belongings to their benefit. They had me arrested because my tire was touching my Moms driveway 3 years later, after an interview with a local new agency. The state through it out, it was not a good arrest, not warranted under any law. She is still missing and I am the only one still looking for her.

    • lacy September 3, 2021 / 12:13 am

      I hope the answers come through, Colleen. What a terrible situation.

  2. Dawn Marie September 1, 2021 / 10:49 pm

    One thing that stands out to me is Henry was found naked except for his shoes and socks. The strange thing about that is he must’ve put his shoes back on, or maybe his killer did it after Henry was dead? It is nearly impossible to get pants off without taking the shoes off first. Barbara was probably wearing a dress or skirt as that’s what most girls wore on dates back then, and it wouldn’t be hard to get even a skirt down and off with shoes still on, and a dress of course you can lift off over your head. But Henry?

    • Meaghan September 1, 2021 / 10:56 pm

      If I were to guess, I’d say the killer forced both of them to strip down elsewhere, then allowed them to put their shoes and socks back on so they could walk (at gunpoint presumably) to the beach without hurting their feet, then shot Henry and took off with Barbara.

  3. Julie Blose September 3, 2021 / 1:55 am

    My brother Richard Ray Barnett disappeared 39 yrs ago Aug 31, and still how do you get someone to do a DNA if they don’t want to. People forget kids get taken and don’t stay in protective mode. People need to understand it can and could happen to you, your mother, sister, brother, cousin, friend people steal other people’s children. People rape, kill, raise, other people’s kids. Missing children awareness needs to be shouted. People need to listen.

    On Wed, Sep 1, 2021, 4:11 PM The Charley Project Blog wrote:

    > Meaghan posted: ” It’s not often that I come across an old case of a > missing child from the US that I’ve literally never heard of in my life, > but when it happened the other day with 17-year-old Barbara Joe Kelley, > missing since 1950, and I immediately added it to Charley.” >

    • lacy September 4, 2021 / 12:56 am

      I just read your brother’s case file, Julie. I just can’t imagine how horribly frustrating it must be for you. It would be wonderful if you could be reunited with him.

  4. Me September 3, 2021 / 10:18 pm

    A Gail Patrick Irish, who’d now be over 100 (DOB 11/16/1917) died in Los Angeles on 7/21/1984.

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