By Kate Gaier
6:15 pm December 7, 2006
Investigators say they've seen suspects flee before, but never to Costa Rica, and even more disturbing in this case is that the man running is a well known pastor in the community.
Susan Mack lives in the area and said, "It just makes him guilty. It makes him guilty. If he didn't do the crime, why would he run from it?"
That's a question many residents are asking in the area.
Mack lives across the street from where David Barrett held weekly spiritual gatherings. Now the meeting place is quiet, Barrett's home frozen in time, and he is nowhere to be found.
Investigators believe Barrett and his family have fled to Costa Rica.
"His ties are there. We have pretty good information that it is Costa Rica," said Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin.
Forty-six-year-old David Barrett used to be an associate pastor at a local church, but branched out to start "House of the Living Waters Assembly." Now he stands accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl he knew through that church.
"We've had concerns in the past about some of his style of leadership but that was not a crime. But what he is alleged to have done is definitely a crime against this minor," said Sheriff Griffin.
It’s a crime that carries serious jail time if convicted, but the next step in this investigation is bringing Barrett back to the United States.
CAPT Gale Bowyer with the Sheriff's Office said, "Because he did flee to a foreign country it's necessary to get the federal officials involved so they can work with these other agencies to hopefully retrieve Mr. Barrett."
Mack added, "I hope they get him. He's done it once, he'll do it again."
The Sheriff's Office is working with the GBI and the FBI to get that warrant to bring Barrett back to Decatur County.