Bomb suspect says he meant to kill himself — (The Des Moines Register)

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The Des Moines Register (IA)

December 7, 1999

By TOM ALEX,  Register Staff Writer

Harry Lee Barber said in front of police investigators that he loved his wife and did not intend to hurt her even though a pipe bomb was found beneath the car she drives.   Barber, who has been charged in connection with a series of bombs planted in Des Moines since Nov. 2, insisted that he intended to kill himself, said Police Detective William Boggs.

“He said he was taking medication for depression,” Boggs said Monday.

Barber, 46, of 1318 Eighth St., drove a pickup truck that was more valuable than wife Deborah’s car. “He said it was not intended for his wife,” Boggs said. “She had the less valuable car. His truck was worth more.”

Polk County Jail officials say Barber is charged with three counts of possession of explosives, two counts of unauthorized possession of offensive weapons, assault while participating in a felony, three counts of first-degree arson, and attempt to commit murder. Bond has been set at $315,000.

Three bombs either exploded or were discovered in the Des Moines area in the past five weeks. One person was slightly injured. Unlike the other bombs, the two discovered Friday had not been set to go off, police said.

The explosives were found in a residential neighborhood near Mercy Medical Center. Those devices led police to Barber.

One of the bombs was in an abandoned Plymouth in the 800 block of Indiana Avenue.

Soon after that, the second bomb was found attached to the underside of the car Barber’s wife drives. It had a trip wire similar to those on other bombs found around the city in November however, the wire was not hooked to anything.

On Saturday, Deborah Barber told the Register that her husband planned to kill himself. She said he set the earlier bombs as a ruse so he would not be suspected of suicide when he took his own life with a car bomb.

“He never meant to harm anyone,” she said.

Reporter Tom Alex can be reached at (515) 284-8088 or