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.