LONELY ENDING Writer and activist Bobbi Salinas dead several months before family finds body

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Posted: Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:00 pm | Updated: 8:34 am, Wed May 22, 2013.

Barbara Salinas-Norman was a Chicana activist, a bilingual teacher, an author, a publisher and an artist. She was “intelligent,” “inspiring,” a “trailblazer.” But her life had begun to unravel, and this once well-connected woman apparently died alone in her Santa Fe home, where her body lay undiscovered for several months behind an unlocked door. Her decomposed remains were found Monday at the Zia Vista Condominiums on Zia Road.

Police originally speculated that Salinas had been dead since October, but family and friends said Friday they thought the 70-year-old might have died long before that — a year or more ago. According to a preliminary autopsy report, she died of natural causes.

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  • Mona505 posted at 2:39 pm on Tue, May 21, 2013.

    Mona505 Posts: 3

    Yes, I lived at Zia Vista and had those experiences. I had a complaint from my neighbor that the smell from my cats litter box was protruding to the downstairs unit, I had warnings posted on my door. If I had not taken precautions to eliminate the smell they would impose a fine.

    Those walls are paper thin you can hear a neighbor sneeze. Now about the smell of a rotting body and no sign of Bobbie? WHY WERE THE POLICE NOT CALLED SOONER???

    No one owes you an apology!

  • A La Chicana posted at 3:03 pm on Mon, May 20, 2013.

    A La Chicana Posts: 2

    It is truly one of the saddest stories I have ever read too. To have your life exposed this way is a shame. In reality she was a remarkable woman whose life changed so dramatically and to think nobody noticed until her remains were discovered. I wish her remaining family would write her story from childhood till now if they can...there must be other writers in her family. Please, family of Bobbi tell us the truth...she was more than a hoarder and she should not be remembered for that alone. Hoarding can happen to any of us. It's hard to let go of sentimental treasures and pictures of ones life but in the end we must purge ourselves of useless paper if we have no one to pass them onto or anyone who cares anymore. I met a very old woman who had 2 days to get rid of her house full of things because she was about to move in with her grand daughter. she told me if she had known that nobody in her family wanted or would be interested in her things she would have gotten rid of them sooner...I never forgot that and try to get rid of things that mean nothing to anybody but me while I am still young enough.

  • A La Chicana posted at 2:35 pm on Mon, May 20, 2013.

    A La Chicana Posts: 2

    I agree with you that her works need to be preserved. I am sorry that I had never heard of her before this but Mecha club at San Jose State Univ. (student Union) was very influential during my college years. I will be researching her going forward and maybe write her story as a tribute...

  • Valerie W Stasik posted at 12:35 pm on Mon, May 20, 2013.

    Author Posts: 4

    It's common knowledge. Just check the police blotter and talk to other residents. However, you'd much rather believe an incompetent reporter who was led by the nose by Bobbi's brother. He called the media. I suspect it was his way of shifting blame. I lived there and had those experiences. Did you?

    That the association cannot enter a resident's unit without permission is part of the assoication's rules. It isn't just what I'm saying. The association was not evicting her is a fact. The association is a homeowners association, not a mortgage holder.

    What about all these "friends"? Why weren't they checking on her? Sounds to me like a bunch of people who just want to blame someone. If you want to do something about how the mentally ill fall through the cracks, why don't you explore the issue and see if you can mandate some changes through the city or the legislature. It was very frustrating for us when we could get no one to intervene.

  • sanchez rae posted at 12:21 pm on Mon, May 20, 2013.

    sanchez rae Posts: 15

    ...and none of what you've written explains how any of you owners could have NOT noticed this woman missing for close to a year if she was such a presence. So what was the chatter then, "gee, Bobbi has moved, sure is calmer around here, no one lurking in the bushes? Good riddance?"

  • sanchez rae posted at 12:17 pm on Mon, May 20, 2013.

    sanchez rae Posts: 15

    Says you. No way to corroborate any of what you've written. Lots of assumptions. CYA.

  • Valerie W Stasik posted at 10:15 pm on Sun, May 19, 2013.

    Author Posts: 4

    I was appalled at the lack of facts and the libelous reporting of Ann Constable. She owes the residents of Zia Vista and the office manager a personal apology. I lived at Zia Vista from 2006 to 2010, and during that time I served on the condo board for three years.
    First of all, Zia Vista is a condo complex, not an apartment complex. Each condo is individually owned, just like a single family home. The board was not evicting Bobbi. Bobbi was being evicted by the mortgage company holding her mortgage following their foreclosure of her property. There was no reason for her to be concerned about anyone in the community seeing her because the association had nothing to do with her eviction.
    I became well acquainted with Bobbi and tried to help her with her issues with the board. It took me awhile to tumble to the fact that she was delusional and incapable of rational thought. There are many instances of her threatening behaviors, which I will go into. As far as trying to get her help, we contacted various city departments to see if anything could be done. We even contacted the fire department to check out her apartment and they would not get involved. The Association cannot enter a resident's condo without his/her permission, so no one could just go into her unit even if the door is unlocked. We contacted the police, and other residents had as well during those years. I'm sure there is a record of these interventions. No one wanted to get involved. We tried to find contact information for her family, and finally were able to contact them. They made it clear that they did not like her and apologized for her behavior. They knew she was ill. Where were they all this time, especially when she was evicted?
    There was also an incident involving her upstairs neighbors, police, firemen, and paramedics. She was convinced that a long-gone resident who was renting the condo above her (condos are not rented by the association, but by individual owners) was still there. He'd been gone for months and a young couple now lived there. She was convinced the old tenant was still there. She lay in wait in front of her unit, and when the husband of the couple came down the stairs she pushed a camera in his face. The wife called the police. I believe the paramedics took Bobbi to the hospital for observation. She was back the next day or so. I know that hospitals can only hold a person for observation for a day or two, and unless they prove to be a danger to themselves or to others, they can't keep them. I don't know if she was provided therapy or medication. Unfortunately, you can't force someone to accept such help. So poor Bobbi again missed out on help.
    Yes, people came to avoid Bobbi. Her deterioration is sad. Her behaviors annoyed and frightened people causing them to avoid her. She consistently threatened the office manager with lawsuits, and on one occasion, a former resident told me she witnessed Bobbi threatening physical violence against the manager. She lurked in the bushes near the home of one of our board members waiting for her to come home. This was at night. The member's husband was concerned that Bobbi might be dangerous and attack his wife. On another occasion, Bobbi knocked at their door. They knew it was her and ignored her. She persisted in knocking and yelling that she knew they were home. Now, board members are strictly volunteer and entitled to their privacy. There is a venue for registering complaints and issues: A written request to be considered by the board. I could not get her to write her issues down in an understandable manner. Many issues were nothing the board had any control over. For example, she had convinced herself that the company who had sold the condos had promised her a washer and dryer. They had sold her the unit at below their sale price as it was. No one else bought a unit that included a washer and dryer unless he/she paid extra.
    Bobbi was quite argumentative and insisted on crashing board meetings, demanding immediate attention to her issues. Board meetings are open to owners, but they may not participate in discussions unless asked to ahead of time. She had no problem just walking into people's units and often passed rumors about people who were once her friends. She intimated to some people who moved in that the neighbor across from her was a child molester, among other things.
    Yes, it is beyond sad, that someone like Bobbi had deteriorated to such an extent, but it is grossly unfair to lay the blame for this on the Zia Vista community.

  • Isaac Daniels posted at 8:19 pm on Sat, May 18, 2013.

    Isaac Daniels Posts: 37

    Talk the matter to ACLU, they're not afraid!!!

  • Mona505 posted at 11:15 am on Fri, May 17, 2013.

    Mona505 Posts: 3

    Bobbi Salinas was an awesome lady and inspiration to me, my deepest condolences to her family and friends.

    I am very disappointed in the Zia Vista HOA board, you should be ashamed of yourselves! I'm a homeowner at Zia Vista and I'm extremely upset that my association fees could have been used for a phone call to the police.
    When I lived there the management had no problem calling the police when I had a radio on, my TV too loud, they even give me warning that my A/C was too loud.
    Bobbi and I had talked about how we felt discriminated by the management at Zia Vista. I have still have the letters, I too sought legal help, but no lawyers want to go up against HOA boards.
    God Bles you Bobbi!
    Viya con dios!

  • Paula Lozar posted at 8:45 pm on Tue, May 14, 2013.

    PLozar Posts: 49

    Just to clear up a misunderstanding: Hoarding behavior doesn't imply anything negative about a person's character. My mother was a charming, intelligent, well-read, generous, and responsible person, well loved by her many friends and relatives, and a devout Catholic. She was also a world-class hoarder -- not trash, thank goodness, but she never met a piece of paper she didn't want to hang onto. She seemed to have no comprehension of how negatively her hoarding behavior affected her immediate family, and she became highly offended when we complained or tried to clean up "her stuff." It's a mental illness, and a person who suffers from it won't yield to reason, persuasion, or emotional appeals -- believe me, we tried!

  • Michael Grimler posted at 3:47 pm on Tue, May 14, 2013.

    shooter Posts: 277

    @CarolynDM - Why is that sad?

  • Carolyn Garcia-Martinez posted at 8:57 am on Tue, May 14, 2013.

    CarolynDM Posts: 564

    How sad that this has actually made the nat'l news on Fox web page.

  • Michael Grimler posted at 8:49 am on Tue, May 14, 2013.

    shooter Posts: 277

    @CarolynDM - sometimes, when faced with overwhelming evidence as corroborated by relatives, a newspaper doesn't have to make a huge leap to come to a conclusion.

    She was, by all definition and proof, a hoarder.

  • whitefeather posted at 8:47 am on Tue, May 14, 2013.

    whitefeather Posts: 1

    There may be some dementia there, but it sounds like she just went crazy, didn't receive the help she needed and died alone. Tragic. It makes one wonder why no one checked on her, I mean, if the door was unlocked for over a year and no one investigated the smell for example, that is very telling about the "community." Too busy at wine and cheese parties, probably.

  • nicalaw posted at 8:19 am on Tue, May 14, 2013.

    nicalaw Posts: 1

    I would like to suggest that all of the people that she inspired and helped see what they can do to take care of her situation and to preserve the work that she dedicated her entire life.

    Additionally, since her lamentable condition over the past few years was widely known in the community, perhaps the community can intervene too.

    Tangible works are needed.

  • Paula Lozar posted at 7:51 pm on Mon, May 13, 2013.

    PLozar Posts: 49

    Something doesn't add up regarding the behavior of the condo complex's management. If she was evicted, they should have come in to clean up the condo and lease it to someone else, so why did they do nothing (especially after the neighbors complained of a smell)? And if they didn't want to deal with a messy apartment, why didn't they contact her relatives and ask them for help?

    I feel for the family members: When you're dealing with a hoarder, there's only so much you can do to help them, because there's no reasoning with them. (My mother was a hoarder, so I've been there and done that.)

  • Carolyn Garcia-Martinez posted at 8:07 pm on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    CarolynDM Posts: 564

    Not only was posting the photos of her apartment in bad taste but who the H is the NMxcan to label someone a hoarder? Maybe she just didn't have the mental energy to clean and throw things out.

  • Carolyn Garcia-Martinez posted at 8:02 pm on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    CarolynDM Posts: 564

    Completely agree. Almost posted that myself. The NMxcan doesn't use much tact when it comes to publishing photos.

  • sanchez rae posted at 6:40 pm on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    sanchez rae Posts: 15

    I'll never forget this story and this woman. One can see her love of expression and life by simply viewing the walls filled with pictures, mementos. Perhaps there was mental illness, perhaps not. She achieved so much with her creativity and advocacy--what an impact. She must have touched many, many lives. What happened to her family members during the time she withdrew? Nieces, nephews? No one other than this one brother in law, got concerned enough to contact authorities for a welfare check on Bobbi? And they only came because they were going to the Hispanic Cultural Center...to visit? And what of the Zia condo people? How was her condo being paid for for that long? Why didn't they follow up on neighbors complaints of odors, why didn't they find it odd one of their owners who was fighting eviction, all of a sudden stopped and disappeared?

    Hoarder or not, she deserved so much more!

  • Pam Walker posted at 4:19 pm on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    lilbit Posts: 105

    And can someone explain to me why on earth you would publish pictures of the inside of her condo. Do you not have any respect at all for the deceased. Her life might have been unraveling but there is still no need for this. She was a well respected person that you just left a horrible lasting image of.

  • Pam Walker posted at 4:11 pm on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    lilbit Posts: 105

    Unbelievably sad. I have a cousin that this could happen to and worry about him all the time. He lives alone, won't answer his phone unless he feels like it and only makes contact with family occasionally. He is not insane, just likes being alone. My heart goes out to the family that tried and couldn't get anywhere.

  • Mark Bahti posted at 3:11 pm on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    ArizonaMark Posts: 6

    A sad end to a wonderful life, but I cannot help wondering why the management in the complex noticed NOTHING for nearly a year...??!!

  • DarleneLeyba posted at 3:04 pm on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    DarleneLeyba Posts: 1

    I want to weigh in as the girlfriend of Bobbi Salinas' brother. I know her brother, Rudy was trying to help her. He obtained information for her to get help but she refused. She had to ask for the help herself. Many times we checked up on her and could not find her. She had been evicted many times from her Condo and was homeless. She fought the eviction and had lost so we were surprised she was found back in her Condo. I think the management of the Zia Vista Condo complex should have been more aggressive in trying to help. Neighbors complained to them when there was a stench in the area, but they never checked it out. They had tons of mail for her (family wrote to her when they could no longer reach her by phone). Zia Vista had the contact information of the family members in California. Overall, it was a sad way to go, Bobbi did not deserve that.

  • Michael Grimler posted at 9:11 am on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    shooter Posts: 277

    It's unfortunate...but sounds like she should have been in an institution where she could have received better attention and care.

  • sfobserver posted at 8:08 am on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    sfobserver Posts: 63

    Sounds like she may have had dementia and no one stepped in to help. How sad. And what about her neighbors? No one noticed the odor of a decomposing body?

  • Carolyn Garcia-Martinez posted at 10:50 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    CarolynDM Posts: 564

    How very sad an ending for such a passionate, talented woman.


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