Published 12:00 am Friday, March 9, 2012
Note: The address for the Justice for Phoebe page on Facebook and the email address for the North Carolina Parole Commission have been corrected.
By Sarah Campbell
CONCORD — The family of a slain Cabarrus County woman is asking the community to help keep the man convicted of murder behind bars.
After a 10-day trial in April 1979, Roger Warren Clark received two life sentences for the kidnapping and murder of 19-year-old Phoebe Alisa Barbee.
He was issued a third life sentence for kidnapping Gay Porter in Rowan County the same day.
Clark, who is being held at the medium security Nash Correctional Instruction, is up for parole later this month.
It isn’t the first time. He was first considered for parole in 1999 and has been before the North Carolina Parole Commission several times since.
“This man does not need to be out,” said Roxy Barbee, Phoebe’s mother. “I think he is a danger to the community and he should spend the rest of his life in jail.
“Quite frankly, it wouldn’t have bothered me if he had gotten the death sentence because he killed her. He took her away from our family.”
Clark, 55, is eligible for parole because he was convicted and sentenced under the state’s old sentencing laws. Under current law, someone sentenced to life in prison is not eligible for parole.
Keith Acree, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Public Safety, said at one time, Clark would have been eligible only for what was known as a “paper parole,” meaning if he were granted parole on one of the life sentences, he would immediately start serving the next.
But a 1997 court decision forced the state to stop using the so-called paper paroles and begin calculating convicts’ time toward parole eligibility on multiple sentences simultaneously.
• • •
It’s been nearly 34 years since squirrel hunters found Phoebe Barbee’s badly beaten body in a field in southern Cabarrus County.
That was the day after Clark lured her into his car by convincing Barbee something was wrong with her car as she drove on N.C. 27.
Barbee, a 1977 graduate of Central Cabarrus High School, was on her way home from work at Wendy’s about 3 p.m. on Sept. 11, 1978, when Clark offered to give her a ride home.
An autopsy report later revealed severe head injuries including disruption of the brain and multiple skull fractures. Defensive wounds were also found on Barbee’s forearms and hands.
Evidence also indicated Barbee was raped and sodomized.
Earlier that day, Clark also coaxed Gay Porter to pull her car over on Interstate 85 with the same ploy. Porter got into his truck and Clark made advances, but he let her out in Cabarrus County when she realized his intentions and jerked the truck’s steering wheel, running it into roadside signs.
Clark also targeted a woman driving on Monroe Road in Matthews earlier that day. She refused a ride from him after he made vulgar comments.
• • •
The Barbee family will travel to Raleigh on Tuesday to voice their opposition to Clark’s release to members of the parole commission.
But Sonja Barbee, Phoebe Barbee’ s younger sister, said it’s just as important that the commission hear from community members.
“Obviously, we believe he should stay in jail,” she said. “At this point, the community is really an important part of keeping him incarcerated.”
The family has started a Facebook page called “Justice for Phoebe” to help get the word out about Clark’s possible parole. It includes information about how to contact the parole commission.
“Because of the nature of this crime, especially the predatory nature, I think the community should know that a man like this has the opportunity to be paroled,” Sonja Barbee said.
Sonja Barbee pointed out that Clark was convicted before the state required sex offenders to register.
“If he were to gain a parole release, he could live anywhere he wanted and you wouldn’t be notified. You could be none the wiser,” she said.
Sonja Barbee said the system that allows Clark the possibility of parole is flawed.
“It’s an insane concept, the fact that this man is even being considered for parole when he was given three life sentences,” she said. “I think that’s the hard thing to swallow.”
Those interested in writing to the parole commission are urged to do so before Clark goes before the board later this month.
“To be considered for this particular parole hearing, they need to be in soon,” Sonja said. “But people can write anytime. They are required to keep the letters on file.”
Roxy Barbee said no matter how much time passes, she still mourns her daughter.
“No one knows the heartache we still continue to go through,” she said. “We still miss her.”
How to write the parole board
• Hard-copy letters can be mailed to:
Chairperson, Tony Rand
N.C. Post Release Supervision and Parole Commission
2020 Yonkers Road
4222 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4222
• Letters can also be emailed to email@example.com. The Barbee family asks to be copied on those emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family said to include the following information in any letters:
Offender: Roger Warren Clark
DOC No. 0077814
County of Conviction: Cabarrus
Convictions: First-Degree Kidnapping-two counts, First-Degree Murder-one count
For more information, visit the Justice for Phoebe Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Phoebe/160515614067120 .
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Facebook: facebook.com/ Sarah.SalisburyPost