At a small-boned 5-feet 7-inches tall and 165 pounds, 49-year-old Barbaro Tamayo may not cut a particularly imposing figure.

The Tucson man’s state prison and county court records, which include 21 criminal charges along with a three-year prison term, say otherwise.

Al Pacino as Tony Montano in his throne in Scarface

A former worker in the mental health section of the Pima County Jail went so far as to call Tamayo “frail” – but also noted there was reason Tamayo had been previously housed in the mental health section.

“He told me he was Tony Montana’s cousin,” said the worker, who is remaining anonymous unless he confirms it’s OK to use his name.

He also said Tamayo, who is originally from Cuba and only speaks Spanish, was fine – as long as he was in a controlled environment, like jail, that administered and made sure he took his medication. He did not know what type of medication was administered and there is no official declaration of Tamayo’s mental health status.

Tamayo refused an interview request, which would have come with a translator.

The diminutive, wiry man was most recently charged with attempted sexual assault in connection with a string of sexually motivated burglaries targeting single women who lived alone near the University of Arizona. The targeted area ran from Speedway Boulevard to Broadway, from Campbell Avenue west to Stone Avenue.

Tucson’s historic Sam Hughes neighborhood, which is no stranger to Tamayo, sits just east of the targeted burglary zone, running from Speedway to Broadway, from Campbell east to Country Club Road.

“(The residents) have been complaining about him for seven years,” says former Sam Hughes resident Cherlyn Gardner Strong, “with it peaking all over the last couple of days. The guy is a major problem.”

A 2007 neighborhood listserv message she shared offered a brief background on Tamayo from one of the residents. The resident said that Tamayo’s history of crime led him to a residential treatment facility in October 2006, which for some reason he either never entered or left shortly after admittance, and re-offended within 45 days.

“Please be vigilant in watching for suspicious activity in our neighborhood,” the message concludes. “If he is found in our neighborhood we are to notify the police immediately.”

Strong notes, however, the complaints did not seem to go much farther than some bickering over the neighborhood listserv.

“If they wish to preserve property values or whatever reason they have, fine,” Strong says. “However, this is not fair to female college students who have simply moved to the area due to the proximity to UA. I don’t give a damn about their property value worries when things like this have escalated to sexual crimes against women.”

Tamayo currently faces the single charge of attempted sexual assault, although police are looking into the possibility that he may be responsible for the entire month-long series of sexually motivated burglaries.

Tamayo’s other Pima County charges date back to 1997 and consist of:

11 – counts burglary in the second degree (three dismissed)
3 – counts burglary in the third degree (all three dismissed)
1 – count burglary in the first degree (dismissed)
1 – theft
1 – possession or use of a dangerous drug (dismissed)
1 – endangerment of others (dismissed)
1 – aggravated assault
1 – armed robbery

1 – attempted sexual assault (pending)

Source: Pima County Consolidated Justice Court

To be fair, a total of nine of the charges were dismissed while 10 resulted in grand jury indictments.

No further information was available, save for the entire situation being a blaring example of the system not working.

His three-year prison sentence stemmed from a July 1999 burglary attempt. He was admitted into prison in June 2000 and released in September 2002.

Tamayo’s list of infractions while imprisoned holds 11 entries, including several for refusing to work, a few for disobeying orders, one for theft, another for possession of contraband and one listed as “any sex act/stlk.” All are minor violations, except for the mysterious sex act, which is a major violation.

A total off 11 aliases are on record, some of which are combinations of his first name, last name and middle name of Cordova.

His prison record notes his public risk rating, or the danger he imposes to society on a scale of 1 to 5, is a low-rated 2.


NOTE: Barbaro Tamayo’s photo is available on the Arizona Dept. of Corrections website but I did not post it because police purposely withheld it when he was most recently arrested.

What do you think?

What needs to be done to get people the help they need?

Why is our system so screwed up?