Slain Atascadero woman led a quiet life taking care of family

52-year-old found dead Wednesday worked for ASH and cared for her mother and son

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMay 24, 2013 

An Atascadero woman who was fatally shot this week was a former Atascadero State Hospital employee who lived alone with her 15-year-old son.

Little is known about who might have murdered Colleen Barga-Milbury, 52, who was found dead Wednesday evening in her Tranquilla Avenue home. But Barga-Milbury seemed to live a quiet life, spending time caring for her autistic son and her now-deceased mother.

Craig Dacus, a spokesman for the state hospital, said the victim worked there from January 1979 — the year she graduated from Atascadero High School — until June 2010. Her last title was food service supervisor.

In 2010, according to her brother-in-law, she moved to Idaho so her son could attend a special school there.

“She was always responsible,” said Dale Rice, a former Atascadero resident who now lives in Lansing, N.Y.

Eventually, Barga-Milbury moved back to Atascadero with her son. Rice said he doesn’t think she was employed after 2010.

She had married Carl Milbury in 1991, and the couple separated in 1994, but a divorce filing was later dismissed. According to the county Clerk-Recorder’s Office, Milbury died in 2000. When Barga-Milbury’s mother battled cancer, Barga-Milbury became her at-home care provider until her mother died in 2006, Rice said.

When her sister, Chris-tina Rice, lived in Atascadero with her husband and two children, Barga-Milbury visited often, said her niece, Amy Rice, Dale Rice’s daughter.

“She’d be over almost every day,” said Amy Rice, 20, who referred to Barga-Milbury as “Aunt Sissy.”
Christina Rice could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. But her daughter said Barga-Milbury was a funny person, who spent a lot of time with her son.

Barga-Milbury had no other living relatives.

“We’re the only family she’s got,” Dale Rice said.

He said the family has no idea who might have committed the crime.

Barga-Milbury’s son is staying at a girlfriend’s house, Amy Rice said, but will soon live with her family in New York. He is not a suspect, according to police.

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