Suspect in brutal murder of college professor claims victim made unwanted sexual advances

Bizarre circumstances surround a vicious murder

Hollant Maxford Adrien made headlines six years ago, after the 2010 earthquake that devastated his native Haiti. Then a French professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, he began offering free Creole classes to relief workers headed to Haiti to help rebuild.

“There is no better way that I can help Haiti than to use what I know,” he told Hamline University at the time. “What I can give people is a connection to the Haitian people.”

Last week, Adrien’s body was found brutally beaten and stabbed in an industrial park in Manatee, Florida. The 20-year-old suspect, Barry Joshua Baer, confessed to police on Friday that the two men were in Adrien’s car when he stabbed the former professor in the neck with a knife he carried for protection. The fight continued outside the car, where Baer admitted to hitting Adrien 40 to 45 times in the head. Baer says the fight began after Adrien made unwanted sexual advances towards him, but it is yet unclear if these advances included force. The killing definitely did.

“The trauma sustained by the victim produced a large amount of blood splatter in the immediate area, indicative of an extremely violent attack,” Manatee County Detective Ben Main wrote in the arrest report, obtained by the Bradenton Herald.

In August 2013, Adrien, who lived in Sarasota at the time of his death at age 56, was found not guilty of kidnapping and raping a developmentally disabled young man. But he had been fired from his job at Wittenberg University in Ohio before the trial began. Adrien later filed numerous federal civil rights suits regarding the charges and the firing, claiming that he had been “defamed and detrsoyed.” It is unclear if or where he was working in Sarasota.

Baer did not report the incident to police: He was arrested after a high-speed chase when he was behind the wheel of Adrien’s car. In his confession, Baer said he took the vehicle to a friend’s to clean it and took Adrien’s money and possessions. As the investigation continues, Baer remains in custody at the Manatee County Jail.

Photo: Hollant Maxford Adrien via Hamline University