Marion County homicide: Daughter believes mother is guilty of father's murder

Published:
Updated:

Sixty-eight-year-old John Stricklin was killed in his Marion County home in April.

Police arrested his wife Barbara in August, but in October, she was released following the dismissal of the murder charge.

Their only child together tells 10TV she believes her mother is guilty.

John and Barbara Stricklin were married 42 years. Both had children from prior marriages. They had one child together, Erin Umbehr.

Umbehr spoke with 10TV by phone from her home in Mississippi.

"He worked hard all of his life, and would do anything for any of us," she said. "My mom came down and stayed with me and my kids and helped raise them while I worked. That's the way my parents lived for three years. They both sacrificed a lot."

She says her father was devoted to his country, serving in the military for more than three decades. She says her parents were equally devoted to each other.

"They had a great relationship. I remember them going country line dancing, and they were on bowling teams and softball teams together."

She says family tragedy- the deaths of two of her sisters to illness- took a toll on her parents and their relationship. Eventually, the two filed for divorce.

She says the only thing left to be settled was money.

"It was a check for $55,000 (to buy her out of their home). Because he had already halved all of the other money."

She is haunted by an April 26 phone call from her father.

"He told me, he said, 'Erin I want you to know your mom is really upset with me. We went to the attorneys.' And I guess her attorney didn't have something right, like a free title. And he said, 'I did not give her the money.' He said 'She's upstairs throwing stuff around.' He said as she was walking across the street, my mom told my dad he would not live to see tomorrow. My dad was found dead the next day."

She said the minute she heard of her father's death: "The first thing I screamed, was 'She killed him!'"

In August, Barbara Stricklin was charged in her husband's murder. In October, based on new evidence, prosecutors asked the court to dismiss those charges without prejudice, meaning they can be re-filed.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office says she's still a person of interest in her husband's death. Barbara Stricklin insists she is innocent.

"They've only focused on Barb Stricklin," said Stricklin's attorney Rocky Ratliff. "And the reason they focused on Barb Stricklin is simply because she was going through a divorce with the gentleman. That was it."

Erin says her mother, once extremely close, has cut all ties to her and her children.

"My dad deserved a whole lot more than that, what he got. And we deserve answers. We deserve to know the truth. I truly love my mother. I just want to see justice for my father."

Erin Umbehr and her half-brother have filed a wrongful death civil suit against Barbara Stricklin.

Umbehr says the civil suit is not about money, but about "trying to hold her responsible for something, until she can actually be held responsible for what she really did."