Lanell Barsock, the black Palmdale woman who was killed by Larene Austin, a woman with whom she had a lesbian affair after meeting on Craigslist, is the feature story for a new episode of Fatal Attraction titled, “A Heart Divided.” In that episode, police are hot on the trail of a husband who has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. But when his alibi checks out, police believe that the “friend” who found the body might actually be the killer.
In June 2010, police were shocked when a distraught black woman named Larene Austin rushed into the station hysterically screaming that she had found her friend, Lanell Barsock, dead.
According to Larene Austin, she had arrived at Lanell’s home earlier that day but left after the woman’s jealous boyfriend, Louis, was in a rage about Lanell seeing another man.
A short time later, Larene went back to the Palmdale home on Rockie Lane to check on her, and she found Lanell Barsock dead in the garage.
As police leaned in to learn more, Larene continued her story, stating that Lanell Barsock had a garbage bag covering her head and there was no pulse.
When investigators arrived, they found 29-year-old Lanell Barsock in a pool of blood. At first, it was believed that she had been bludgeoned to death, until an autopsy report determined that the victim had been shot one time in the back of the head at close range.
To substantiate Larene Austin’s story, they checked into Louis’ background and learned that he was a jealous boyfriend, who at times stalked Lanell Barsock.
Barsock, a nurse in the Florida area, was seeing two men, including Louis. Law enforcement officials arrested Louis for his girlfriend’s murder.
Louis denied vehemently that he killed Lanell, and in fact, begged the officers to check out his alibi. He claimed that he was no where near Palmdale at the time of the murder, a fact that was eventually backed up by surveillance video at an auto body shop in Los Angeles.
After clearing Lanell Barsock’s other boyfriend, they focused more on Lanell’s life. They found that the successful nurse had a secret. She liked women. Her internet activity also revealed that she met Larene Austin, who detectives believed was just a friend, on Craigslist in the “women seeking women” section.
It was a shocking revelation, since Lanell Barsock had everything going for herself. She was a licensed nurse, she had a posh 3,600 square foot home in Palmdale, and had her home outfitted in nice furniture and large screen TV’s.
The investigation revealed that Lanell Barsock had broken off the lesbian sexual relationship with Larene Austin just days before the killing.
Los Angeles County investigators put together a chilling scenario. According to the evidence, Larene Austin was furious after Lanell Barsock broke up with her and decided to try to make things work with Louis.
From the beginning, Larene Austin intended to make Lanell’s lifestyle, her lifestyle. An out-of-work Larene Austin banked on moving in with Lanell and establishing a loving and financially secure relationship with the victim. When it looked like that was not going to work out, she devised a plan to put hair weave extensions in Lanell Barsock’s hair, but shot her in the back of the head instead.
Larene Austin had hoped to carry the body out to the desert to discard it, but the victim was too heavy. That’s when she decided to frame Louis Bonheur. As soon as she learned that Louis was off the hook and she was on, Larene fled to Belize, where she stayed until an America’s Most Wanted show led police directly to her, according to the LA Times.
Lanell Barsock was not the only one seeing other people, police stated that Larene Austin also had two girlfriends on the side, while she was seeing the victim. One of the women posted a comment, stating that she was lucky to be alive, according to the AV Times.
“WOW, i could have very well been the next victim. I was dating her at the same time and she drove the victim’s car to my home a month prior to the murder..I’m soooo lucky….. Justice should prevail!!!!”
For the vicious murder of Lanell Barsock, 31-year old Larene Eleanor Austin was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The website Find-A-Grave has an entry for LaNell C ‘Nell’ Barsock and more more pictures of her. She is buried in California. In addition to Fatal Attraction and America’s Most Wanted. Lanell Barsock’s murder case was featured on CrimeWatch and Crime Stoppers Case Files. Recently, Fatal Attraction aired the Antoinette Chase and Mia Nichols cases.
[Image via Celso Diniz/Shutterstock]