Ballplayer’s death deemed homicide




SaltWire Network


Barry Albert loved playing baseball. So perhaps it's fitting that the police found the 47-year-old's remains — recently identified by the medical examiner through DNA analysis — near the Springfield ball diamond. “He always played in either a tank top and shorts or a T-shirt and shorts,” said Ryan Rafuse, his friend since elementary school. “He’d never wear any shin guards or anything like that. And he would slide and embed dirt in his leg that would take weeks to heal and dig out. I would say, ‘Dude, I swear to Jesus, it’s like you’re getting paid $15 million a year to play.’ He seriously played like he was major league. It was all or nothing with him.” Albert, who was also known as Barry Mosher, grew up in Western Shore, and attended Gold River Elementary School as a child. “We met in elementary school and we just kind of hit it off and stayed buddies ever since,” said Rafuse, who lives in Martins Point. “We always managed to have a good laugh together.” They talked during the pandemic but didn’t have many chances to hang out together. But weeks ago, after spending an evening drinking beer with Albert’s brother, Rafuse concluded the human remains found at Springfield Lake belonged to his lifelong buddy. “I knew lately he was in a bad spot. He didn’t have nowhere to go. So, he was pretty much homeless,” he said. For the first few weeks after Albert went missing in August, Rafuse hoped his friend had found a camp to stay at in the Western Shore area. “But after a couple of weeks went by, I said, no, something’s wrong. Because Barry was the type of fella, he wouldn’t stay away long. And somebody pretty much always knew how to get ahold of him or where he was at roughly. He would have made an appearance. He would need food or cigarettes or something.” Albert was last seen alive Aug. 21 on Ron Street in Bridgewater, though he may have been spotted in Wileville that day as well, and reported missing a week later. He had three grown sons — one as well as a set of twins all born on Christmas Eve — and had split up with his wife, who he married in 2007, about four years back. “It seems like that’s when things started going downhill for him,” Rafuse said. Albert was living in a tent behind Eisnor Park, a collection of mobile homes in Bridgewater. “He was pretty much at rock bottom,” Rafuse said. Lou-Ann Albert, his former partner, said she still loved the man and took him food sometimes, but couldn’t handle his drug problem. “He’d get off them for a little bit and he was perfect,” she said. “But he would always have that addiction.” He got hooked on “trucker pills” as a youngster and later started using methamphetamine regularly and smoking crack cocaine, she said. “He didn’t have a chance.” Albert’s oldest son, Mason, 22, studied to become an addictions counsellor to try and help his father, she said. “When he realized that his father didn’t really want the help at the time, he switched over and got a job” in Halifax, providing respite care for people with autism and schizophrenia, said his mom. The dead man’s two younger sons, Ethan and Tyler, are 21. “The twins have autism and Asperger’s syndrome,” said their mother, who lives in Martins River. “I loved Barry to death. But he didn’t hold a job. He looked after the kids when I was working. … He loved those kids.” She’s heard the people who killed Barry Albert just meant to beat him up. “Something went bad,” she said. His remains were found in an outhouse at the Springfield ball diamond, she said, noting Barry Albert played at that field many times as a younger man. “They need to be caught,” she said of her estranged husband’s killers. “Nobody deserves that.” Police announced Nov. 18 that the missing person and human remains cases have been merged into a homicide investigation. The RCMP Southwest Nova major crime unit is leading the investigation with assistance from the Bridgewater Police Service, the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner’s Office, the RCMP underwater recovery team, RCMP Forensic Identification Services and Lunenburg District RCMP. Even before the DNA tests came back to identify Barry Albert’s remains, after talking with the police, his former partner was sure it was the father of her three boys. He had lots of recognizable tattoos, including an anarchy sign on one arm and an eagle on his shoulder that he got in jail when he was younger, she said. “Him and my son had matching tattoos for baseball,” she said. “It was a baseball mitt and on the mitt my son, Mason had his father’s number 19, and Barry had Mason’s number 11.” Albert worked mostly manual labour gigs, Rafuse said. “He wasn’t the best for keeping a job.” Word on the street is that Albert’s body was dismembered and missing some crucial parts when police found it in Springfield. Police wouldn’t confirm that and while Rafuse has heard the same thing, he hopes it isn’t true. “For somebody to want to take it to that f---ing level, you really had to piss in somebody’s cornflakes,” he said. “You really had to hurt somebody or owe them quite a bit.” Mounties found Albert’s remains Oct. 8 near a Hastings Road ballfield in Springfield in a search they said was part of an ongoing investigation. “They went right to the spot,” Rafuse said. “That tells me somebody gave some information up.” Police “showed up with a bunch of gear, dogs, excavator, the whole nine yards,” he said. “So, somebody had to say there was remains there. And I’m thinking that it was somebody involved and they’re looking for a bit of a deal. You may think you’re tough or hard or whatever, and then you go do something like that. You can’t unsee that shit. You can’t just rub your eyes and it goes away.” RCMP divers returned to the scene in late October to search the lake for evidence. Lou-Ann Albert has heard they found items of clothing in the lake, but she doesn’t know the details. It would have taken more than one person to kill Albert, said his friend. “If somebody stepped up to him and he knew shit was going to go down, he’d f---ing swing,” Rafuse said. “Especially if you know your life is on the line, you’re going to fight for all you’ve got, unless they caught him off guard.” Rafuse wants to hold a celebration of life for Albert at the Western Shore ball diamond. “We were even thinking of just having a game of ball in his honour.” A mutual buddy told Rafuse that Albert showed up at a ball game about six months ago to mark the passing of a friend’s father. “We always played ball together and always had a good time.” Rafuse decided to hold off on doing the same for Albert until his remains were identified. “Nobody deserves to go out like that,” he said. “I don’t care what he did. No one deserves that.” Rafuse, like many others in their circle of friends, believes Albert either robbed a drug dealer or took the fall for stealing some cocaine. “But Barry was no dummy,” said his friend. “He was street smart. I know right now that if he did take that, he knew shit was coming his way. … You’re lucky to get a beat down and some broken bones; you don’t walk away from that. I’ve heard stories of people getting killed for a lot less.” If he did take the coke, Rafuse figures his pal had given up on life. “Bridgewater’s too small,” he said. “Drug circles aren’t big; people talk.” Rafuse said he could not name the “crackheads” he believes killed his friend. “They were probably high when they done it, they probably made mistakes and I can guarantee you they’re probably going to get caught,” he said. Albert had a reputation for unpaid debt, Rafuse said. “He wasn’t the best for paying people back when we were younger, and even when we got older,” said the 46-year old. “That was just Barry. He used to get f---ing mad if you brought it up. ‘Hey man you got that 20 bucks?’ (and he’d respond) ‘I told you I’d give it to you when I get it?’” But he kept in touch with a small circle of friends, many of them childhood pals. “I used to say, dude, you remind me of Alexander Keith’s beer. Those who like you, like you a lot.” Court records show a judge issued a warrant Oct. 12 for Albert’s arrest for failing to attend court as directed. He was slated to be arraigned that day on an assault charge with the offence date of Aug. 1. Other than that, his only other convictions are more than 20 years old, and they were for failing to attend court, forgery and drug possession. The recent assault happened at the trailer park, where Albert had a girlfriend, Rafuse said. “Something happened that her grandson showed up and was giving her a hard time,” he said. Albert was staying with her when the teen got mouthy, Rafuse said. “I don’t know if he was having a bad day … but he just had enough of (the teen) talking to her like that, and they got in a fist fight. And I guess Barry beat him up half bad.” Mounties are staying tightlipped about whether Albert’s remains were dismembered when they found them. “There’s a ton of rumours that are going around the community, that being one of them,” Cpl. Chris Marshall said recently. “But at this point, given the number of rumours and conjecture, basically investigators are in a position right now where the investigation into the remains has only been going on for a couple of weeks and they’re still trying to gather information. So, it makes it very difficult for us to start confirming those kinds of details when we’re still at the outset of an investigation.” Police said they estimate the 5-foot-9 man weighed about 150 pounds. He had brown hair and brown eyes, and often wore blue jeans, a dark T-shirt and a ball cap. “He was a really nice guy,” said a woman, who knew Albert growing up. “He was just going down the wrong road.” Like many others in their circle of friends, she’s also heard Albert owed a lot of drug money and was found dismembered. “In my gut, I wouldn’t be surprised,” said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The South Shore is full of drug problems, especially in the Western Shore and Gold River area.” Like Rafuse, she remembers Albert as a keen ballplayer. “He was really good at hitting and getting home runs,” she said. “As soon as I think of Barry I think of baseball.”