I-TEAM: Daughter angry after her father is killed inside Northeast Florida mental hospital

She blames insufficient staffing and roommate assignment for his death

The daughter of a man killed inside the Northeast Florida State Hospital in Macclenny turned to the News4JAX I-TEAM, asking for help in getting answers about her father’s death.

She says her father, Warren Barrett, was brutally killed by his roommate Mark Stone — who is facing prosecution on a second-degree murder charge.

Warren Barrett was one of the hundreds of patients living in the Northeast Florida State Hospital while being treated there for mental illness.

In April 2021, investigators say, he was brutally beaten by Stone. Barrett later died from that beating.

Mark Stone (Special to WJXT)

The I-TEAM has spent months digging through legal records after Barrett’s daughter claimed her father’s death should have been prevented — blaming lack of staff at the hospital and pairing two men with violent histories as roommates.

Barrett’s daughter — who wants to remain anonymous — played the I-TEAM the last voicemail her father left her.

“And tell your mom that I love her,” the voicemail said. “And I love everybody in the family.”

She says her father was a loving and caring man.

“He tried to be the best person he could be for who he was,” she said.

She says she is angry after learning from hospital authorities that her 72-year-old father was brutally beaten by his roommate inside the facility.

Baker County deputies said Stone, 44, admitted to going after Barrett but says Stone was acting in self-defense.

Barrett’s daughter wants answers: Why no one intervened? Why Barrett and Stone were assigned to the same room when they had histories of violence? And why no one called police for hours after finding Barrett injured on the floor in a pool of his own blood?

“I was very shocked when I had to identify his body because I didn’t know the degree of what happened,” she told us.

Marilyn Parker speaks with Warren Barrett's daughter, who wishes to remain unnamed. (WJXT)

According to Stone’s arrest report, Barrett had fractured ribs, brain bleeds and a broken neck. The incident occurred on April 5, 2021, and Barrett died 10 days later -- on April 15.

But Barrett’s daughter says it wasn’t until she received a letter from the state — dated April 27 — that she learned her father’s death was related to the April 5 attack that occurred inside the hospital. “It was a vicious attack,” said Baker County Press Publisher Jim McGauley.

McGauley has reported on the Northeast Florida State Hospital for years.

“Here’s one from 1999,” he showed us while looking at an old article written.

McGauley says he has covered numerous reports of violence at the hospital — including alleged rapes, stabbings, and abuse. “What do you think has changed?” we asked.

“Ever since it became part of the Department of Children and Families, I think it kind of drew into a shell. It’s a mental hospital. So, you know, I think they’re very careful about what gets out,” McGauley said.

Northeast Florida State Hospital (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX - All rights reserved.)

The I-TEAM discovered, from January 2020 to August 2021, sheriff’s deputies responded to 21 delayed battery calls from the hospital —Barrett’s case was one of them.

Staff told investigators that they did not immediately report the incident between Barrett and Stone because they had not realized the extent of Barrett’s injuries — even though Barrett was found in a pool of blood.

The same day of the attack, Stone told another staff member that he beat Barrett and that’s when security made the report. Police found a note that Stone left on a dresser near his bed which said, “I could not just lay there and suffer bodily harm. I had to do what I could to prevent being struck.”

Police said two other patients in the room didn’t see what happened.

Barrett’s daughter believes the hospital was understaffed when her father was beaten.

“What do you think the staff should’ve done?” we asked her.

“Well, apparently there wasn’t enough staffing if this all went down. And nobody heard anything. So where was the staff?” she questioned.

The I-TEAM took that question to DCF — the state agency running the facility. DCF sent us a chart stating that at the time of the incident on April 5, 2021, the hospital was “appropriately staffed with the minimum requirements.” We started asking DCF questions about staffing after Barrett’s death last year, and in an August 2021 email, the agency wrote in part: “…the unit was appropriately staffed during the time of the incident.”

“The minimum direct care staff required for this living area is three staff during the day and two during the night. The minimum required nursing staff is one per day and one per night.”

DCF went on to say: “Security personnel are not stationed in living areas but make several walk throughs on each shift.”

The I-TEAM also spoke to Anthony Nix, who says he was once housed at the Northeast Florida State Hospital and later became an employee. He no longer works there.

Nix says he has been attacked by patients as well, and he claims staffing at the hospital is insufficient.

Nix wrote a letter to DCF about what he calls aggressive patients.

“The issue that we have with the hospital is that they don’t have adequate staffing on none of these wards to provide a safe environment for the residents of this hospital,” he said.

In response to his letter, the hospital administrator said, although they would like to have more staff, it’s not always possible due to circumstances beyond their control.

While Stone remains in jail awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder in Barrett’s death, his daughter thinks more people should be held accountable.

“I think everyone who was involved at the hospital should be on trial as well because they made decisions that affected the outcome for both of them,” she said.

And she still wants to know why Stone and Barrett were put together as roommates since they both had a history of violence.

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Stone was 24 years old in 2001 when he slashed his mother’s throat a week after spending three months in jail on a domestic battery charge.

As for Barrett, court records show he was abusive, and his daughter says he had been suicidal and diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Barrett’s daughter says their violent histories should have kept the two men from being placed together in the same room.

The I-TEAM checked DCF’s room assignment policy. It says to separate residents or break up hostile mixes of people who are involuntary civilly committed, incompetent to proceed and residents with not guilty by reason of insanity. Because of stone and Barrett’s background and DCF’s own policy, we asked why the two men were roommates, but DCF said it could not comment due to the ongoing investigation.

Barrett’s daughter says she may not get the answers to all of her questions until her father’s case gets to trial, but she says regardless, her father didn’t deserve to die.

“It was still my father, and he loved us,” she said.

Stone’s next court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

About the Authors:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad