VICE- On the evening of July 18, 2013, Kathy Barlas returned to her home in Mason City, Iowa, to find her adult son waiting in the garage in his underwear, dripping with blood. “Mom, I killed Satan,” Tom Barlas Jr. said to his mother. Did he mean he hurt the dog? “No, Mom, I killed Satan,” he repeated. Kathy entered the house, heading toward her bedroom where she found her husband, Tom Barlas Sr., lifeless on the floor, bleeding from multiple stab wounds. He was dead. When she returned to the garage, her son was gone. Calling 911, Kathy told the emergency operator that her son might be headed toward the Greek Orthodox Church of Transfiguration. The police eventually found Barlas, who resisted arrest, repeating “God and Jesus Christ,” over and over. The cops used their tasers to subdue him, eventually arresting Barlas for the first degree murder of his father. Last Thursday, a little over a year later, I drove through Mason City, Iowa—which, along with neighboring Clear Lake (the town that killed Buddy Holly), remains my hometown. I’d just flown in from Denver, attempting to begin a week-long vacation, when the news came over the radio that Tom Barlas Jr. was found not guilty of the murder of his father, due to his suffering a “psychotic episode” that prevented him from understanding the consequence of his actions.
Well there ya go! Nice little tip to keep in your back pocket if you ever find yourself in the state of Iowa with an unquenchable thirst for murder (don’t kill me, preferably. Or do. I’m 50/50 on it). Simply proclaim that the person is Satan and you’re now allowed to murder them in cold blood. Done and done. Kind of awesome when you think about it. Iowans have a free pass to kill anybody they want now. I live here and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I wanted to murder people. Gas station lines are constantly too long, Iowa State fans grind my gears on a daily basis, the mail man who walks by my house whistling drives my dogs nuts is an asshole and any other number of reasons. The reason doesn’t matter. Calling the person Satan before you do it does. Problem solved. You’re Satan, I kill you, now you’re dead and now I can buy this riptide rush Gatorade and bag of chilli cheese Fritos a lot faster. Everybody wins (except the dude at the Road Ranger who’s dead in a puddle of his own blood and presumably his family and friends who have some events to plan now). Hey, it was just a “psychotic episode” where I didn’t understand the consequences of my actions. Simple. Open and shut case. Move along, Cedar Rapids Police Department.