Powelifter’s Death Shockingly Attributed to Inability to Roll Over

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Photo courtesy of the In Memory of Tanner Barton‘s Facebook group

He could deadlift 500 lbs but couldn’t roll over?

I shouldn’t be writing about this case. Writing this story is like playing with lit sticks of dynamite. The drama, chaos, and lawsuits surrounding this story have destroyed the case. Touching it could cause third-degree burns, but I believe this teenager needs the adults investigating his death to grow up, observe the facts, avoid the opinions, and bring him Justice.


Tanner Barton, 19 was a freshman at Marion University, an excellent student honored with being named on the Dean’s list, and was playing college football as an offensive lineman. He wasn’t just any football player, he was one of the best in the state and was one of the few who could continue the game into college. In 2010, Tanner was selected to be a part of the All-State Football team.
The Marion Star reported his accomplishments in Track & Field on May 5, 2011. The 6′ 3″ 290lb giant of a lineman was also an excellent discus thrower. Despite his size, Tanner was very active and physically powerful. During his high school wrestling days, he broke all the school weight lifting records and was an accomplished wrestler. If that wasn’t enough, he was a start football player and powerlifter. That’s right. Tanner Barton could deadlift over 500 lbs!
On the field, Tanner Barton was a giant powerhouse, but off the field, he was a loveable teddy bear. He was well-liked by all who knew him, and it seemed he had a great future ahead of him. No one realized his life would end on April 22, 2012. How could it end so soon? Why would it end? Seven years later, his mother is still asking the same questions.

On the night of his death, Tanner went to the movies with a friend and then stayed the night at a friend’s house. Around 3 am he collapsed in the basement. A young girl witnessed him on the floor and said he was making a funny noise. She thought perhaps he was snoring. For some odd reason, she said she checked his pulse, stepped over him, and went to bed. By the next morning, the football star was dead. The events of the following day have been disputed throughout the community, across the nation and even on the Dr. Oz show. Now after all the drama, the original questions remain, but somehow the case has been closed. Yes, you heard that right. The case was closed by the police department in 2018. So, why am I still writing about this case? Read on to find out.
At first, the coroner’s report said they couldn’t get a urine sample and then a short time later, a sample appears out of nowhere, and toxicology reports are made from it. This is only one of many discrepancies in this report and throughout the entire case file, but I have one primary objection to this whole deal.
The official ruling on the case says that Tanner had an enlarged heart, was morbidly obese, had a short neck, and died due to positional asphyxia. Basically, the big man falls down. Big man suffocates because he is unable to reposition his body to get oxygen. Here is my objection. There was NO EVIDENCE that his heart had anything to do with his collapse. If you study the causes and effects of an enlarged heart, you will find that if it had caused his collapse, there would have been evidence of heart failure of some sort in the autopsy, but there wasn’t any. So, it wasn’t his big heart that caused him to collapse. What then?
Some say he was drinking and smoking marijuana. This powerful man’s blood alcohol levels were a mere 0.06%. That would have in no way caused him to pass out. Here come the messed up toxicology reports. One report said there wasn’t any marijuana in his system, then, later on, another test came back positive for the drug. Hum. Ok then. We will leave that right there and move on.
There was a rumor mill report saying that “Special K” may have been passed around that night, but again that’s not been proven either. One particular person, who we won’t name because of all the needless drama, was in the the house and had access to the drug known in the medical world as Ketamine. This drug is a hallucinogenic, tranquilizing effect and could have been the reason why the powerlifter was unable to move his head enough to get oxygen, but again there isn’t any official evidence to support that either.
How does a beloved football player slump to the floor at the bottom of the staircase, lay there for hours until he suffocates, and no one notice? That’s my question. Sure it was in the early morning hours, and some of the people were asleep, but one person claimed he had foam coming out of his mouth and another claimed he had made a strange snoring sound. Why then, didn’t someone turn him over on his side so he could breathe? Why did it take several hours before 911 was called and why were calls to several other people made first? It doesn’t make sense.
To make a bigger mess, this case had gotten nationwide attention when Tanner’s mother made a public plea on the Dr. Oz show. Unfortunately, the investigation wasn’t complete, and some of the people involved were overly eager to get the show aired. This caused some major chaos when some other people threatened to sue. More drama unfolded, and many have tried to discredit Tanner’s mother. I have plenty to say about that!

You cannot expect an untrained, emotionally drained, grieving mother to conduct an investigation.

Of course, she’s going to have a lot to say. Of course, she’s going to keep calling investigators. Of course, she’s going to get frustrated when the case takes longer to solve than she thinks it should. If everyone would grow up, do their jobs, drop the high-school drama crap, and focus on the case, this case would be solved by now. Instead, the case is closed with a half-thrown together conclusion, the mother has gone through Hades, and now it’s going to take a major breakthrough to re-open the case of the Powerlifter Who Was Too Weak To Roll Over. Can we just get back to the facts? What made him collapse, and more importantly, what kept him from turning his head to get oxygent. Some say it could have taken him up to two hours to die. Why couldn’t he move? THAT IS THE QUESTION that should re-open this case.
If you can help get this case re-investigated and re-opened please contact Tanner’s Voice on Facebook. Tanner needs some justice, and his grieving family needs answers.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.

Further Reading:

mayo clinic: Enlarged Heart

Youtube: Tanner’s Football Memories

Youtube: Northwestern High School Team Intro

Facebook Video: Justice 4 Tanner


This week’s Recommended Reading:

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity


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All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online or can be verified by the guest blogger. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended. Any and all opinions are that of the guest blogger and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Synova Ink©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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Synova Cantrell may be known for her fedora, but she wears many hats. Synova volunteers with the Missouri Missing organization by highlighting obscure cold cases on her true crime blog to help generate tips. She firmly believes together we can give grieving families answers, hope, and support. Synova works as the Production Editor of True Crime: Case Files Magazine. http://www.truecrimecasefiles.com As SWMO’s #1 True Crime Writer, Synova authored Unorganized Crime; a biography of the ex-gangster Sidney Heard of Chicago, IL. This thrilling tale of con games, bank robbery, and mayhem has recently been endorsed by a retired FBI agent. Her best-selling series, Seriously Stupid Criminals, is a fan favorite in both paperback and e-book formats. Her latest e-book, Grim Justice tells the story of a judge and his wife retired in Palm Beach, Florida in 1955. Her first case files book, Snatched was released on New Year's Day. Fans eagerly await her newest serial killer series set to launch late 2019. Synova has a passion for helping fellow authors and knows how overwhelming it can be to get started in this business, that is why she created Synova's Simply Biz. Synova breaks down the business of writing in a simple way. If you need help with your business check out her new page www.synovaink.com/simplybiz. To follow all her adventures and read her true crime blog, log onto www.synovaink.com Connect with Synova: Twitter: https://twitter.com/synovaink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/synovacantrell Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/synovaink

One thought on “Powelifter’s Death Shockingly Attributed to Inability to Roll Over

  1. Hopefully there is someone out there that will read this and have the authority to find enough evidence to re-open this case. Clearly it should have been handled by an outside investigation team. It appears there may have been some cover ups and I question those people there. How can they not be held responsible to some degree because they did nothing that could have saved this young mans life. I would definitely like to read all the information regarding this case.

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