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The trio are accused in the September stabbing and beating death of 18-year-old Justin Barnard of New Philadelphia. A fourth suspect’s hearing was postponed. Prosecutors say all four have confessed to their roles in Barnard’s murder and the dumping of his body in the river.
Justin Barnard murder – Mother wants to know why
By RYAN KARP, T-R Staff Writer
Patricia Barnard-Stoller has no answers for those who ask why her 18-year-old son, Justin Barnard, was murdered.
The 47-year-old New Philadelphia resident also wants to know why.
“There’s no answers these people can give that will satisfy me as to why they took my son,” she told The Times-Reporter in an interview Monday. Her mission is to see that her son’s killers are put behind bars.
Barnard-Stoller said she, her son Richard Kreider, 22, of New Philadelphia, and her daughter, Danica Hoppe, 21, of Canton, are reeling from Justin Barnard’s brutal stabbing and beating, which authorities believe took place Sept. 20. His body was found Sept. 27 in the Tuscarawas River where it had been dumped. Four suspects have been charged and remain in county jail.
“How do you deal with something like this?” asked Barnard-Stoller. “It’s not something you’re programmed to do. It’s like the world did a flip, and it’s not back on its axis yet.”
Still, Barnard-Stoller said there has been some good in the midst of tragedy.
She said she wanted to urge parents to know where their children are and make sure they are safe.
Barnard-Stoller would often ask her children to make a list of friends and their phone numbers. She said she would put the list away somewhere just in case she ever needed it.
She has noticed that now, teenagers she knows are with their parents more often.
“Teenagers are teenagers,” she said. “They’re going to experiment. You just hope that all your teachings over the years did some good.”
Barnard-Stoller said her son was trying to find himself like all kids do.
“Somebody stopped him too short,” she said. “Justin never even had a driver’s license. He never fell passionately in love and had his heart broken.”
Justin spent more than a year in California with his father, Michael Barnard, before returning to New Philadelphia in January to live with his mother.
Barnard-Stoller said that her son was friends with Amanda Sickels Bowditch, 18, and Chad Bowditch,19, two of the suspects accused of murdering him. The couple lived on 2nd St. NW, and Barnard-Stoller often saw both of them. She said her son was planning on moving with them to Conneaut in the days leading up to his murder.
“He always gravitated to the outcasts, the troubled ones,” said Barnard. “He told me he got along with the misfits more than anyone else.”
Justin’s body floated in the river about seven days before being found about a mile away from where the four suspects, who prosecutors said have admitted their parts in the murder, said they dumped his body. During that time, Barnard-Stoller thought he was away with friends.
Barnard-Stoller said she does not know how the other two suspects, Justin Stephan, 18, and Diane Dinkelmann, 42, got involved in the murder. She met Stephan once and never met Dinkelmann.
“There’s a lot of what ifs,” said Barnard-Stoller. “It’s like the community is saying ‘Wow. Things like that happen here.’ And I thought, ‘Wow. It happened to me.'”
Justin Barnard’s remains were cremated and will be placed next to his great-grandfather’s grave in Cypress, Calif.
Barnard-Stoller said she has felt the support of the entire community. Many have showed their condolences through a memorial at the house where Justin Barnard was killed at 342 2nd St. NW and a memorial set up at the Mill Ave. bridge where the teen’s body was dumped. She also expressed thanks to the Tuscarawas County sheriff’s office, Sam Hitchcock and the Park Place Teen Center.
Barnard-Stoller called Tom Endres, who saw Justin’s body floating in the Tuscarawas River and alerted authorities, “a guardian angel.”
“He brought Justin back to us from being so lost,” said Barnard-Stoller.
NEW PHILADELPHIA Four individuals accused of killing 18-year-old Justin Barnard and dumping his body in the Tuscarawas River have each been charged with one count of aggravated murder and murder. New Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Mary Wade Space set bond at $500,000 apiece the accused killers, Justin Stephan, 18; Diane Dinkelmann, 42; Chad Bowditch, 19; and Amanda Sickels Bowditch, 18. A preliminary hearing for the four defendants has been scheduled for Oct. 6. All four individuals have reportedly confessed to their part in Barnards murder, according to prosecutors. Both Chad Bowditch and Amanda Sickels Bowditch are reportedly former New Philadelphia High School students, while Stephan is a former Dover High student. Stephan reportedly withdrew from Dover High School on Sept. 21, a day after authorities believe Barnard was murdered. Dinkelmann is reportedly a convicted felon from New York state. At least two of the defendants have cited mental conditions for prior criminal records. Dinkelmann reportedly has a 14-year-old son. He has been placed in the temporary custody of the Tuscarawas County Department of Job & Family Services. The boy was reportedly asleep when Dinkelmann and the three co-defendants allegedly stabbed and beat Barnard to death in the basement of Dinkelmanns house where the Bowditches and Stephan had been staying. Barnards body was found floating in the Tuscarawas River south of New Philadelphia. Authorities believe he was dumped off of a bridge upstream following the murder during the early morning hours of Sept. 20.
The body found floating in the Tuscarawas River Tuesday is that of 18-year-old Justin D. Barnard of 232 2nd Dr. NW, New Philadelphia.
Tuscarawas County Sheriff Walt Wilson announced Friday the identity of the murder victim found in the river near Rt. 416 just south of New Philadelphia. Barnard’s parents have been notified.
“The identity was made by using specific descriptors given to the sheriff’s office by family as well as the use of a forensic dentist who was able to match the victim’s dental records,” Wilson said. The victim had no identification on him when he was found.
“We got our first hint this was Justin Barnard the evening of the 28th but it took this long to confirm it,” added Detective Lt. Orvis Campbell. Barnard had not been reported missing.
Wilson, who noted this is the first homicide in the county in several years, said there are no suspects at this time.
“We are still interviewing people,” he said. “We are actively pursuing leads in this case, including anyone who last had contact with Justin.”
Barnard was a 6-foot-4 white man with blue eyes and brown hair. He had attended New Philadelphia High.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Barnard’s body, which had been dumped in the river, got snagged on a tree limb and was found by a nearby resident. A preliminary autopsy report revealed he had suffered multiple stab wounds to different parts of his body and significant trauma to his skull. The death was ruled a homicide Wednesday.
Authorities believe Barnard had been dead a minimum of three to five days by the time he was found. His neck, waist and knees were bound by rope, and a sheet was found floating from the body.
Wilson and Campbell encouraged anyone with any information to call them at (330) 339-2000.