Hijacker Still Mentally Ill

Hijacker Still Mentally Ill

Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. kept his annual appointment with Arthur G. Barkley last Friday, Jan. 27, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, just as he has for the last 35 years. Judge Marcus D. Williams and Barkley's psychologists and attorney joined them.

"The remarkable thing about this defendant is his mental situation hasn't changed in 35 years," Horan told Williams, during a 15-minute hearing last week. Horan said Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute is the best place for Barkley to remain.

"He's aggressive by nature, he just is," Horan said.

BARKLEY, a Phoenix bakery truck driver, took control of TWA Flight 486 over northeastern New Mexico in June, 1970, after a long-standing feud he had with the IRS over a $471 tax grievance.

In a drama that played out at Dulles International Airport, Barkley demanded millions of dollars from then President Richard Nixon to be delivered to him.

After a smaller amount of money was delivered, Barkley, then 49, shot and wounded the TWA pilot with the plane sitting on the runway at Dulles. The pilot, treated in intensive care at Fairfax Hospital, survived, and Barkley was charged with robbery, abduction and maiming. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in November 1971.

Inside the courtroom last week, Dr. Colin Barrom described Barkley's "elaborate system of delusion" and paranoid beliefs, but said "it's rather remarkable how good his memory is."

Despite aging, Barkley is still "unpredictable," testified Barrom. Barkley's last aggressive incident occurred in 1998, when he put a ceramic mug in a sock and attempted to assault a psychiatrist, according to Barrom and Dr. Robert K. Guthrie.

Neither recommended that Barkley, now in his mid-80s, be removed from Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute to enter a nursing home.

WHEN WILLIAMS offered Barkley the opportunity to talk, Barkley said, "Your Honor, I can't understand these people, what they are saying?

"I would like to know when this court made a law that a man can't stand up and protect his family."

Barkley then told the story of his grievance with the IRS Ñ the same story he's told for more than three decades, said Horan.

Williams said there is no reason to change Barkley's status as a patient at the mental health institution in Marion, Va.