CNS – An autopsy was conducted July 16, but the cause of a UC Riverside professor’s death in his Long Beach home was “deferred” pending toxicological tests on the 46-year-old homicide victim, the coroner’s office reported. Lindon Barrett was found dead by police inside the condominium in the 100 block of West Fifth Street around 9 a.m. Sunday July 13, after neighbors reported smelling a foul odor. Barrett’s badly decomposed body indicated that he had been dead for several days, police said, and further investigation pointed to homicide.
After discovering the body, investigators at the scene noticed that Barrett’s car—a two-door black Lexus—was missing. Police tracked down the parked sedan near Paramount Boulevard and South Street, and set up a surveillance, police said. Later that night, Marlon Martinez, 20, of Long Beach, returned to the car and was placed under arrest, police said.
Martinez was booked on suspicion of murder at the Long Beach jail and was being held in lieu of $1 million bail, jail records show. Martinez, a Long Beach construction worker, was charged with murder on Tuesday. He is scheduled to be arraigned on July 24.
Police said Lindon and Martinez were acquaintances, but did not elaborate on how—or how well—they knew each other. Colleagues and students, most of whom learned of Barrett’s death last Tuesday, spoke highly of the man who joined UCR’s English department in the fall of 2007.
“He embraced his new position at Riverside, bringing a personal warmth and passion to the department and his field of African-American studies,” English Department Chair Katherine Kinney said in a statement released by UCR.
Kinney, who had known Barrett since they were in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, said the scholar was just finishing his second book, “Racial Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity.”
“Lindon offered so much, personally and professionally to the department, the campus and the scholarly field of African American studies,” Kinney said.
“He will be missed by friends and colleagues across campus and across the country.”
The UCR English department plans to hold a memorial service for Barrett in the fall. As news of his death spread, Internet message boards and blogs filled with tributes to the professor who sported trademark dreadlocks.
“His humility and gentleness always blew me away, and is something that continues to serve as a model for me. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to have met and been influenced by him,” a student who identified herself as Jamie Park wrote on a message board.
“I am honored and so proud to have been (and to still be) his student, and to call him a mentor, and I know that every single aspect of my career will be a living legacy and tribute to his life and work,” Park wrote.
Before working at UCR, Barrett taught for several years at UC Irvine. In 1994, he helped found UCI’s African American Studies Program, and from 2004 to 2007, served as the program’s director. UCI officials are also planning a memorial service in his honor. Barrett’s move to UCR was made with hopes to help build a similar Black studies program. He wanted to expand the curriculum and recruit more diverse students, according to the university. Although Barrett taught at different campuses, the Canadian native maintained his residence in Long Beach, choosing to commute.
“He never forgot how spectacular that California coast is,” Kinney told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Barrett penned numerous journal articles and a book, “Blackness and Value: Seeing Double.” He served as a consultant to Steven Spielberg on “Amistad”—a 1997 film based on the true story of a slave mutiny that took place aboard a ship of the same name in 1839, and the legal battle that followed.