ASHTABULA, Ohio (WYTV) – Community members in Ashtabula have been reeling these last few weeks. First, as news came out about a teenage girl who was missing — gone off with a family friend, who is also a registered sex offender — then that her body had been found.
“She’s 13, he’s 46 and you let her go all night with him. Nothing seemed right from the get-go and every time you turn around, there is more to the story that’s coming out,” Nicholas Vocca said.
Now, new details that could address some unanswered questions are shaking up residents even more.
Court documents show that 13-year-old Kara Zdanczewski’s father owed a drug debt of $3,000, which may have had something to do with the girl’s death.
Before the court sealed the case, News 5 in Cleveland obtained an affidavit, saying accused murderer John Bove took the girl from her home. The media outlet reported he meant to trade her safety for the debt, but her burned body was found in a field just a few days later.
Bove and three other people have been charged in connection to the case.
That news is being discussed amongst Ashtabula residents online and in the streets.
Cathy Pallaise and Jennifer Farley are part of a block watch in the neighborhood where several of the suspects live. Pallaise said they run the group as a community service.
“Keeping the community safe, try and help the law. Law enforcement can’t be everywhere all the time, so we are kind of like their eyes and ears. If we see something, we report it.”
Farley said the community is beginning to come to grips with the tragedy, though the initial news had them rattled.
“I think eventually, in time, we will have all our neighborhood kids back out but right now, I feel parents are hyper-alert.”
In response to the recent events, they’ve organized a community meeting to explain Ohio’s sex offender laws.
“We did go through and do a sex offender search for our area, and I personally posted each offender,” Farley said.
She thinks police are just getting started with this investigation.
“I believe there will be a few more arrests after the grand jury,” Farley said.
The block watch meeting is set for June 3.