Mother of murdered Barberton teens David and Ashley Carpernter begs for justice

Summit County Crimestoppers offers $2,000 reward

BARBERTON, Ohio - Leiha Carpenter stood outside of her Barberton home, gazed at pictures of her children on her cell phone and the grim reality seemed to take hold.

"This is really real," she said through her tears.

Her daughter, Ashley Carpenter, 18, and son, David Kohler Carpenter, 14, were shot to death during an apparent robbery on New Year's Eve inside a home on Seventh Street Northeast.

"All I know is I'm on my way to the funeral home to make arrangements for my kids, my babies," Leiha Carpenter said.

Ashley was a senior at Barberton High School. She was in the marching band and planned to get married after graduation.

David was in middle school. He loved to play football with his friends and planned to follow his sister's footsteps into the marching band next year.

Family members are wearing purple ribbons in memory of the murdered siblings. Relatives also set up an account through gofundme.com to help with funeral expenses.

"I have to live the rest of my life without them. This bastard needs to be found and I suggest they find him before my family does," Leiha Carpenter said.

The shootings happened inside the home of John Kohler, who is David's father and Ashley's stepfather.

He was also shot and remains in critical condition at an Akron hospital, police said.

John Kohler's girlfriend, Ronda Blankenship, also sustained a gunshot wound to the head, but she managed to call for help. On the 911 call, Blankenship can be heard repeatedly gasping for help.

Her mother, Ruth Fullmer, said Blankenship may lose an eye, but is expected to survive and doesn't appear to have brain damage.

"I can't sleep much because (of) thinking of Ronda fighting for her life that night with a gun in her face and fight for her life now," Fullmer said.

Marty Eberhart, public information officer for Barberton police, said detectives have been working non-stop trying to solve the shootings that have shocked the community.

"You have two innocent children that were brutally shot for no apparent reason," Eberhart said.

Detectives said they have only a few leads and no suspects at this time. They're urging the public to call with any possible clues.

Police are working on the theory that robbery was the motive, but they won't reveal why.

"I can't get into the theory on exactly what motive-type of robbery, but it appears they were targeted for a robbery," Eberhart added.

Summit County Crimestoppers is offering a reward up to $2,000 for information leading to the killer or killers. Anyone with tips should call 330-434-COPS. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

A vigil is planned for 8 p.m. on Friday at Lake Anna in Barberton.

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