Guest Post by: Ian Granstra
In 1991, Head fled Lincoln, Nebraska, after she was charged with burning down her former boyfriend’s mobile home. Seven years later, she was believed to have shot another boyfriend to death and absconding with his money.
Unfortunately, one more alliterative label can be placed on Hazel Head; she has proven to be street smart. The wandering woman’s nomadic lifestyle has enabled her to stay one step ahead of the law for nearly three decades. An investigator descried the vagabond as “nearly impossible to track.”
Charles Barker was devastated when his wife was of ten years was killed by a drunk driver. After a couple of months of mourning, however, he snapped out of his funk and again began doing what he enjoyed: hunting, fishing and traveling. When the 69-year-old retired Benton, Louisiana, truck driver received a large insurance settlement from his wife’s death, he decided to use the money for a little fun. Charles began frequenting area casinos where he would forget about life for a while.
Charles was coming out of his shell, but he was still lacking one thing which he desired: companionship. He was ecstatic when a bubbly, younger woman engaged him in conversation at the Red River Casino.
The woman introduced herself as Deianna Ray and Charles was immediately smitten. The encounter at the casino led to a whirlwind romance and less than a year after losing his wife, Charles moved Deianna into his home.
Deianna Ray’s real name, however, was Hazel Head, and she was wanted in Nebraska for the arson seven years earlier.
Charles Barker, the lonely and vulnerable widower, had caught Hazel’s Head’s eye; the large amounts of cash he flaunted at the casino had turned Hazel’s literal head. Hazel Head, alias Deianna Ray, had latched onto her next prey.
Charles thought he had hit the jackpot at the casino; instead, he would soon be robbed of his money… and his life.
After living together for only a couple of months, Charles confided in his two adult daughters that he and “Deianna” were having problems, but he did not elaborate.
In August of 1998, Charles’ daughter Jennifer Spoonts grew concerned after being unable to get a hold of her father for over a week. Jennifer lived nine hours away in Austin, Texas, and asked her aunt June, Charles’s sister, who lived in the area, to check on him. When June and her husband arrived at Charles’ home on September 2, they found him slumped over the bar of his home with dried blood on the back of his head.
Police believed Charles had been killed by a single bullet to the back of his head as he was reading the newspaper. He had been dead for at least five days. No signs of a struggle were found in the home, leading police to believe he probably had not seen the attack coming and had no chance to react.
Ballistic tests determined the shot came from Charles’ own gun, which he kept in a safe in his bedroom. Police found the safe open and all of the money, believed to be approximately $45,000, missing.
Also missing was Deianna Ray.
Police soon identified Deianna Ray as Hazel Head and learned she had operated several similar scams across the country of befriending men then swindling them. This was the first instance, however, in which Head is believed to have put a bullet in one of her lovers’ heads.
The following day, Charles’s car was found near the Shreveport airport, 15 miles from his home. Inside, investigators found pieces of clothing belonging to Head, as well as physical evidence, including DNA, linking her to the car.
Hazel Head was charged with first-degree murder. She, however, had nearly a week’s head start, which, for her, was an eternity.
Head is known to have robbed large amounts of money from several men and likely has committed other scams that have not been reported due to victim embarrassment. The Lethal Lady often lures her male victims by taking out personal ads in newspapers and lounging at truck stops.
Hazel Head is the typical “lot lizard” with one exception: she can be lethal. Because most truck companies have policies against picking up hitchhikers, police believe many truckers have not reported giving her rides.
For many years, Head was believed to be prostituting herself for rides and money, but the practice may no longer be as lucrative as she has aged.
Hazel Leota Head is now 69-years-old, the same age as Charles Barker when he was murdered. She has used at least a dozen different aliases and is believed to have married at least ten times.
The last confirmed sighting of Head was in December of 1998, at a truck stop near Wheat Ridge, Colorado, where she applied for a job as a waitress. She did not get the job, but she did get out of the town before authorities could nab her.
Over the years, sightings of Head have been reported in all 48 contiguous states. Police have never been able to locate a domiciled address for the fugitive, and it is possible she has not had one in her adult life.
Hazel Head is still singing hooray as she remains in hiding. Authorities are confident, however, there is a time a-comin’ when they’ll be able to say… they got Head.
If you believe you have any information on the whereabouts of Hazel Head, please contact your nearest FBI office or the Benton, Louisiana Police Department at 318-965-0579.
Charles Barker’s daughter, Cindy Barker Jefferson, is a member of Ian’s FB group. She believes another person aided Hazel Head in the murder of her father and that this person was not thoroughly investigated by the police.
Cindy also says she was told that Head, using an alias, was arrested in Oregon for public intoxication approximately seven years ago. She was released, however, before the police learned her true identity.
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More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:
Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)
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