The name “Barksdale” rings bells among fans of The Wire, because it belongs to the the character Avon Barksdale, king of the West Baltimore heroin trade on the show. The name “Bodie” does the same, as it belonged to one of Barksdale’s most loyal fictional street soldiers, “Bodie” Boradus. However, those names rang bells on the actual streets of Baltimore in the 1908s, because it belonged to Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale, leader of of a notoriously violent drug crew which dominated the now-demolished Murphy Homes and Lexington Terrace housing projects (“Avon” was also a )Today, it has been reported that Barksdale has passed away in a Butner, NC medical prison at the age of 54.
“In real life he was one of the most notorious and resilient gangster drug kingpins Baltimore has ever seen,” says a narrator in the documentary about Barksdale life. “He was a magnet for violence.” During his reign, Barksdale was shot 20 times and even had to have his right leg amputated below the knee. He beat a murder rap in 1982, for the death of his mentor Frank Harper. He could not escape conviction n 1985, when he was sentenced to 15 years for the torture of three people on the 11th floor of the Murphy Homes.
Turning over a new leaf, Barksdale worked with Safe Streets,an anti-violence initiative in Baltimore. However, in 2014, he found himself on the wrong end of the law once again, when he was busted in a wiretap investigation by the DEA on the Black Guerilla Family. Barksdale was involved in a BGF heroin conspiracy. He pleaded guilty in 2014, and received a near-four year sentence. “I did some good,” Barksdale said of his work with Safe Streets during sentencing. “I’d like to think I saved some lives.”
Barksdale had also succumb to his heroin addiction, running a scam to satisfy his habit. The Baltimore Sun reports, “He said he would try to get samples of heroin, promising to pass them on to big-time dealers, but instead would use the drugs himself.”
Nevertheless, “Bodie” has left his mark (for better or for worse) on the streets of Baltimore and pop culture forever.