Originally published in The Rock River Times.

When that day was over, Frank Barris would claim that he was not in his right mind on June 20, 1933. That morning Frank spoke on the phone to a young woman named Anna Trenary.   The conversation did not go as Frank had hoped.  When Frank hung up the phone, it was the last thing he would claim to remember for hours.

Frank left work early and returned to his house.  He grabbed his handgun that he had purchased a month before.  Later, Frank would state that he brought the gun in order to use it on himself in front of Anna.  He stated,“She took away everything that was beautiful in my life.”

Frank journeyed to Anna’s small house at 1511 West State Street.  Anna was having lunch with her 15-year-old son and a boarder, Vernon Morgan.  She sat with her back to the door and was just raising a sandwich to her lips when Frank burst through the door.  He fired the .44 caliber gun at her.  The bullet tore through her arm and exited through her chest.  Anna was dead before she hit the floor.

Across town at Frank’s home another scene was taking place.  18-year-old Eddie Barris was very worried about his father.  Frank had been acting peculiar and speaking of Anna almost constantly.  Eddie knew his father had left work early that June day.  Eddie stopped at the house and his concerns grew when he realized that his father and his gun were missing.  Eddie was joined by his younger sister Lucille and they raced to Anna’s home.  Unfortunately, they arrived too late to stop the horrible scenario their father had put into motion.

When police arrived, Frank sobbed as he poured out the whole story to the bewildered men on the drive to headquarters. Frank told the police that he had been living a lie.  He confessed to the police that he had been having an affair with Anna Trenary for almost 18 months.  His wife, Sophie had no clue about her husband’s affair.  

The policemen tried to make sense of the convoluted story that came pouring out of Frank.  Anna Trenary worked as a nurse for a local physician.  Frank and Sophie’s daughter, Lucille needed at home care and Anna was assigned the job.  No one could foresee the far reaching consequences that the decision would bring. 

Anna was such a great nurse that it wasn’t long before the 16 year old Lucille was back on her feet.  Anna would often visit her former client to check on her progress even after Lucille was released from her care.  It was during these visits that Frank and Sophie got to know the young nurse.  They would often share dinner and a glass of wine.  It wasn’t long before Anna started to bring her son along for the visits and the families grew even closer. 

Frank became obsessed with the 36-year-old beauty.  Before long, he was dipping into the family’s savings to pay for gifts for Anna.  By June of 1933, Frank came to the end of his money and he could feel Anna slipping away.   Whether it was the fear that his family would find out about the affair, the money, or Anna’s rejection, something inside Frank snapped.

Frank was convicted of the murder of Anna Trenary and sentenced to life in prison at Joliet, Illinois.  He would die there while serving his time.  Sophie divorced Frank and the family moved on with their lives.

By 1942, Frank’s son Eddie was married with two young children of his own.  He had recently been promoted to manager for the A & P store on West State Street.  But the darkness that had reached out to claim his father was not finished yet.  Eddie was under tremendous pressure with the new job and he started to have a drink in the evening to relax. Before long, one drink turned into more until Eddie began to lose control.  This caused problems in his marriage and by August, Eddie’s wife Ellen decided to leave. 

On August 13, 1942, the couple was dividing the household goods.  Ellen’s sister and mother were helping her pack.  Eddie brought two men along to load the truck.  Eddie asked to speak to Ellen in the kitchen.  He wanted one more chance to fix things.  When she refused, Eddie had the same reaction as her father had years before.  He pulled a gun and began to fire at Ellen.  Ellen’s sister and mother came running to her rescue.  Eddie fired at them as well, striking them both.  

Thinking that he had killed all three women, Eddie ran from the apartment and into the street. It was there that Eddie shot himself in the abdomen.  Then he drew a knife from his pants and drove the 4 inch blade into his chest.  He collapsed on the street.

Police were able to quickly piece together the scene from the many people who witnessed the attack.  Ellen and her mother, Dora were on the brink of death.  It was considered a miracle that the couple’s two little children had not been hit by the bullets flying around.  

Eddie was very close to death.  He had missed his heart but had lost a lot of blood.  But against all odds, all three women and Eddie recovered.  Eddie was arrested for the assault but Ellen’s family showed concerned and forgiveness toward Eddie.  They agreed to a plea bargain to grant Eddie a light sentence.  He was convicted of a misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon with intent to do great bodily harm.  Eddie was sentenced to one year at Vandalia Correctional Center. 

When Eddie finished serving his sentence, he joined the U. S. Army to serve in World War II.  He remarried and died at 41 years old in Madison, Wisconsin. One can only hope that the terrible legacy that Frank committed and Eddie attempted ended with them.



Copyright © 2018 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events