How an ex-Marine and liar became a hit man

An in-depth look at David Tyner, the "Cathouse" killer, and his victims

Brooke, 22, had danced at some of the same clubs as Ermey in an effort to support her child, a daughter she'd had at 16. She would disappear for weeks at a time — sabbaticals, some of her friends later learned, to the Moonlite BunnyRanch in Mound House, Nevada, a legalized brothel popularized by the HBO reality series Cathouse.

Now she was pregnant for a second time — eight weeks along — and had returned home around Halloween to have the baby.

Fierro drove her back to 1511 SW 56th St., where he had a key and was free to come and go as he pleased. According to Fierro's later testimony, Brooke requested that he take a shower so they could have sex. She also snorted more cocaine. The two were alone for approximately 45 minutes before Fierro began to hear someone knocking and whistling at the door.

Tim Lane

He didn't want to answer: Barrientos always told him when to expect someone. Brooke insisted. When he opened the door, there stood Tyner. Prosecutors would later learn that Symantha Stanton's PikePass — an electronic sensor for tolls — had been used to get off the turnpike into Oklahoma City at 3:49 a.m. She had last seen Tyner in their apartment as she was falling asleep, around 11 p.m.

Fierro spent a half-hour chatting with Tyner; the two had met while helping Barrientos move over the summer and had an easy rapport. Tyner asked when Barrientos might be coming back. Fierro suspected it would be soon, since few places would still be open. He introduced Tyner to Brooke before they both went back to the bedroom, inviting Tyner to stay and wait for Barrientos.

As Fierro left the living room, he heard Tyner on his cell phone telling someone that the only people in the house were Fierro and his girlfriend. A few drinks in, he thought little of it.

Fierro and Brooke were in the bedroom when Barrientos arrived a short time later. There were female voices, which Fierro assumed to be those of Ermey and Barrera. Brooke went out to greet them; Fierro stayed behind. He heard music and amiable chatting.

Thirty minutes passed. Then Barrientos's tone turned serious: "Aw, what the fuck?" Before Fierro could react, gunshots rang out, and a bullet zipped through the bedroom door.

Fierro looked around. The damaged door led to the living room and mayhem. The other door led to the kitchen. Fierro picked the latter.

Shoeless and shirtless, he sprinted through the kitchen and into the garage, hitting the button to open it and diving underneath. Running, he turned to see Tyner giving chase, a white Pontiac Grand Prix parked in the driveway.

"Fern Dog, come back," Tyner yelled. "I'm not going to fuck with you."

Fierro may have been a dealer of ill repute who once met with Mexican cartel members while his children played in the back yard and who was barely two hours removed from selling cocaine to a pregnant woman, but he was not stupid. He continued to run until he smashed into a horse kept in a neighbor's yard. Dazed, he climbed up a tree, where he waited for a thought to come into his head as to what to do next.

Barrientos was the primary target: big, fearless, and known to be armed. He took four shots to the torso and one to the head. Barrera was most likely the second kill; as with Barrientos, shots to the back indicated she had been trying to flee. Clean and easy.

At this point, it's possible that Tyner heard the garage door open and went to chase Fierro. But Brooke and Ermey remained, and after seeing their likely fate, the cocaine in their systems provoked a different answer in the fight-or-flight response.

They fought. Fiercely.

Ermey was bruised and battered, hit with fists or feet that fractured her femur and broke her rib. Both were shot in the hand as they tried to shield themselves from bullets. At this point, the killer or killers may have run out of ammo — or Tyner, the one with the firearm, ran out to chase Fierro. In either case, both women endured stab wounds: Brooke's larynx was slashed and her abdomen stabbed. When the shooting resumed, Brooke's bullet wounds indicated a struggle, the shots not grouped together, but spread out as the target squirmed. Both were then shot in the head, ending the fight.

The massacre probably took less than three minutes total. Bodies were splayed out in virtually every side of the room: four adults, two fetuses. Petroleum was splashed around and a match was lit.

Stanton's PikePass was used again on the turnpike at 5:30 a.m. and at the exit toward Salina at 7:30. Phillips's Grand Prix was captured that morning on a nearby business surveillance video but was never seen again. At 5:37, the fire department responded to a neighbor's phone call reporting a blaze at 1511.

The findings of the medical examiner later indicated that attackers had left behind one survivor: Ermey, who did not suffer a fatal gunshot wound but instead died of smoke inhalation.

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This is a factually inaccurate article which should be treated as fiction.

CinBlueland topcommenter

Just my 2c, Yes the guy was a pogue. 

But, how is this a MN related article? I don't see a post/article about Obama's stooge in Egypt being ousted.

Or is this some weird projection that all Marines are lying, nutcases? Be a reporter, lets dig deeper, what is the % of non-combat MOS types doing stupid/bad shit to those in combat MOS's, and have had heavy combat action.

Or was this just a hit piece to try and piss on the Marines?

Who stands on that wall at night Rossen? 99% of the Marines don't ask your your approval, appreciation, hell even respect. 

But if you're going to throw stones about how evil they are, what is the pct of Marine on Civilian crime vs civilian on civilian crime??


Interesting article. Doesn't take much to push someone off the path.

swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland  By the way, what's the derivation of the expression, "the guy was a pogue"?  I can guess what you mean from context, of course.  I don't think I've heard it before.  Any special meaning?

CinBlueland topcommenter

Just a little context, you're aware that an "average" Marine could drop you from 300 to 500 meters? How many of us go off the Res as it were? You're in far more danger from a local banger who likes to spray and pray.

swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland I think you're being a little touchy here, Cin.  That this guy did a hitch in the Marines is parenthetical to the story, in reality and in presentation.  This guy actually fits the profile, to a T, of the kids the Marines recruit relentlessly in small towns.  Athletic, competitive, marginally connected to family and friends; tendency toward risk-taking, trouble-making and violence.  

I knew a half-dozen guys at least who came to the end of high school and you wondered, are they going to get to Marine Boot Camp before they get put in jail/prison?  In the small town, the Marine recruiter would actually go to court with the young defendant, and as long as the charges weren't too heinous or overly publicized (and any victims were of a lower social status), a deal would be worked out where charges would be suspended conditionally, as long as the kid actually went to Boot Camp and stayed in the Corps (and out of town) for a set period of time.

Hey, it worked more often that it didn't.  For most young men in rural areas, if you're not college material, after high school sports are over there is no socially acceptable outlet for violence and adventure.  Either join the service, or get married, or drink heavily and wind up in jail.

Most of the guys i remember wanted to be in the Marines because the Marine recruiters really laid it on thick.  Of the guys who went that route, I remember a couple who washed out, but even that was good for them because as they said, "I used to think I knew what sucked, but after Marine boot camp I can tell you I had no idea."

And then of course there was Steve Jenkins/Anderson, who was so crazy the Marines wouldn't take him.  You can Google how he turned out.

CinBlueland topcommenter

@lenti Like the Columbine, Colorado, Sandy Hook killers?  Nothing personal, just bugs me when Marines are dragged into these things.. Texas, and in theory JFK, OK, but if you're going report on this junk, then start attaching gang affliations as well.

CinBlueland topcommenter

@swmnguy @CinBlueland In short, he was not a line troop. I'm not going to try and buff myself up... Just go to your local VFW.

CinBlueland topcommenter

@swmnguy @CinBlueland swmnguy, was this the 70's?

Marine recruiting standards jumped pretty high in the 80s/90's. The jail or Marines option was out. 99% of the guys I served with were educated, and motivated. Yes a great way to see the world, but when the call came we came. 

Recruiters laying it on thick?? I know they have quotas but mine said "If you join you will see combat" How thick is that?

Sorry about being defensive, we/they give their all. Nothing is asked for in return.

swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland  Actually, Cin, this guy's gang affiliations are far more central to this story as told here than his record in the Marines.  And the story makes it very clear that none of his fellow Marines were exactly fans of his.

swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland  You don't have to apologize to me about anything.  Yes, I was referring to the guys I knew growing up in the 70s, but also well into the 80s.  

The guys who wanted to join the Marines wanted to see combat.  That was why they were interested in the first place.  The guys considered losers, or less-motivated, usually chose the Army.  There were exceptions; I knew a couple guys who seemed like top-shelf recruits who went into the Army because they were 4th generation or something like that.

In farm country when i was a kid, no recruiter had much trouble meeting a quota.  Rural America has been in a Depression for about 40 years, in many ways.

The story made it very clear to my eye that this guy was in no way a good Marine. When you say, "we/they give their all," I don't think we're talking about the guy in this story.  I did not take this guy as any reflection whatsoever on the Marine Corps, or the military in general.

I do think you're being overly sensitive about it, and I also do not think you need to apologize to me about it.  There are things I'm overly sensitive about myself and I don't think I need to apologize about that.


@CinBlueland @swmnguy Sorry, but that is absolute nonsense. I am a Vietnam veteran, honorably discharged from The United States Marine Corps in 1971. From then on I referred to myself, and was warmly referred to by others, as an ex-Marine. I went on to college under the GI bill, then to the military medical school, USUHS--- always referred to as an ex-Marine by my classmates, most of whom were active duty line officers before they entered USUHS. Later, as a USN Medical Officer, I served two years at the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center in Northern California, and then four years at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. Every single active duty Marine I had contact with referred to me as an ex-Marine. Every single Marine retiree I had contact referred to himself as an ex-Marine.

The "former" qualifier came into use much later, and as far as I can tell is, for some bizarre and arbitrary reason, considered 'politically correct'. The term former Marine is fine if you choose to use it. However, I will not be corrected but whippersnappers who were not even born yet when I was, again, honorably, discharged from the Corps. 

CinBlueland topcommenter

@swmnguy You may hear trash talk about the Suck.. Still not your place to comment.. Unless you've served and did your time.. Your comments mean nothing. Do a little homework on Ex vs Former Marine