Victim remembered as teacher, listener

Sarah White

Austin citizens have expressed concerns for their personal safety in the weeks following the New Year’s Day murder of North Campus resident Esmeralda Barrera, but the victim’s friends and family are also making sure the 29-year-old’s memory is not forgotten.

Austin police still do not have a suspect in custody for the murder of Barrera or for the two assaults that occurred in North Campus the same morning.

Barrera was pronounced dead in her home on the 3100 block of King Street after the Austin Police Department investigated a 9-1-1 call received at 2:46 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Alyx Vessey, a friend of Barrera’s, said in an interview with The Daily Texan that Barrera was always concerned about her safety and took necessary precautions.

“Whenever we would drop her off anywhere, she would ask that we wait in the car until she got home safely,” Vessey said.

Vessey said she was inspired by the way the Austin community had come together in response to Barrera’s death. An avid music fan, Barrera served as a counselor with Vessey at Girls Rock Camp, where both coached young musicians.

“Esme was a fast talker, but for all her chattiness, she was a really good listener,” Vessey said. “I think that is part of the reason why she was such a good music fan. Esme embodied the idea that it is as important to be in the crowd as it is to be in the band.”

Vessey spoke about the last time she saw Barrera, when she visited the 2011 Girls Rock Camp showcase.

“I remember her a little teary-eyed as she watched the bands that she and the other counselors had coached play,” Vessey said. “She was always a huge professional resource to me in the way that she invested in the kids. It breaks my heart to see that she didn’t get her [teacher’s] certification.”

Melinda Chow, spokeswoman for Girls Rock Camp, said camp staff members are in the process of planning a memorial service for Barrera, but does not have an exact date set. She said while there would be a memorial service planned by GRC, the camp counselors and administrators chose to postpone it in order to grieve with the Austin community first.

Memorial services have been planned across the nation as well, including one in Los Angeles on Friday, where four bands will play and admission funds will benefit Barrera’s family.

“She embodied everything that Girls Rock Camp was about,” Chow said. “She had real instinct [in working with kids] and was a gifted teacher. Right now we are prioritizing the community and making sure that everyone has what they need.”