Details Revealed in Court Documents


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MASON CITY, IA – Court dates are approaching for two Mason City men charged in two different cases of first-degree murder.

They both have their unique differences but two separate high-profile murder cases are preparing for what will be a busy day at the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse on August 12th.  Both Michael Cisneros and Tom Barlas Jr. are set to make court appearances on the same day for the same charge of first-degree murder.

For Michael Cisneros, it took years of gathering forensic data for him to finally be singled-out as the prime suspect in the murder of 20-month old, John Snyder Jr.

DNA analysis helped Mason City Police and Iowa State Investigators make an arrest linked to the 1994 murder.

According to investigators, the technology was not available back then to make a connection, but eventually they say traces of Cisnero’s DNA did match that found on Snyder’s pajama bottoms.

While the defense will have to find a way to counter the forensic evidence, time may be on their side as the DNA match comes nearly two decades after John Snyder Junior’s disappearance.

Cisneros remains in the Cerro Gordo County Jail under $500,000 bond awaiting trial.

From one case that had gone cold, to a case in which an arrest was made within moments of the crime.

The charges against Tom Barlas Jr. shocked the community but it’s not just his alleged actions that are drawing headlines.

According to court documents, police say after stabbing his father Tom Sr. to death, Barlas reportedly told his mother that he had “killed Satan”. When his mother looked to clarify what had happened, documents show she discovered her husband’s body lying motionless on their bedroom floor.

Police arrested Tom Barlas Jr. soon afterward covered in blood and restrained him, they say fearing he may harm himself.

Barlas Jr. appeared fine medically but according to Police, his mental state was highly in question.

Mason City Police say that while Barlas Jr. was being processed the only statements he made were that he was “God and Jesus Christ”.

While no reports of any pleas have been made yet, the defense for both Cisneros and Barlas Jr. are preparing for long days of trials ahead.

In the end, it’s up to the justice system to decide if the evidence is enough to put both Tom Barlas Jr. and Michael Cisneros behind bars for what could be a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole.

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