By Joan Ward George
Kerry Bartow was convicted last week for the murder of his wife and the attempted murder of his six year old daughter in November, 1996. In this sensational story that grabbed the attention of NBC and turned into an episode of NYPD Blue, Bartow stood accused of hiring a friend to kill his wife Sharon. The friend, Terry Collins, age 18 at the time of the murder, is the brother of Bartow’s girlfriend. Collins confessed and plea bargained with the authorities and is now serving out his sentence of seven to 14 years in jail for his part in Sharon Bartow’s death and the throat slashing of the Bartow’s young daughter.
When The Wave first reported on the murder and assault case (See Wave, November 23, 1996), Kerry Bartow was assumed to be one of the victim’s of a burglary gone bad at the couple’s Wavecrest Gardens apartment complex on Seagirt Boulevard. He told police that at approximately 12:35 a.m. on the Saturday morning of the attack members of his family were awakened by the noise of their doorbell. He told police that when he opened the door he was faced by two masked men wielding handguns trying to force their way into the Bartow’s third floor apartment. Bartow was shot in the chest, his wife was shot once in the head and their six year old’s throat was slashed within minutes. The couple’s two other children, an infant and an 11 year old, were asleep at the time of the break-in and saw nothing of the incident.
Detective Charles Lehner, of the 101 Precinct Detective Squad, has had the case from day one. According to Lehner, Bartow’s story had holes in it right from the beginning and he was a prime suspect since the incident occurred. During the initial investigation Bartow agreed to a polygraph test, which Lehner says he failed terribly. The results of that test led to Bartow’s confession, arrest and incarceration in February, 1996. It also led police to Collins as one of Bartow’s accomplices, who was a student in Amherst, Massachusettes. Collins also admitted his guilt in the murder, assault case for which he was promised $10,000 from Bartow for killing his wife. Collins remains in prison where he has already served more than two years of his sentence. His sister, who was Bartow’s girlfriend, is believed by police to be a total innocent in the case.
Bartow will be facing sentencing on April 13 and is expected to be handed down a decision of 25 years to life for the murder of his wife and depraved indifference, and 12 1/2 to 25 years for the assault, attempted murder of his daughter.