Mother of Barberton Victims: ‘They Were Good Kids’

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BARBERTON, OH -- The mother of two teenagers killed while visiting their father on New Year's Eve is devastated and desperate to find their killers.

Leiha Carpenter says her children, David Kohler-Carpenter, 14, and his sister, Ashley Carpenter, 18, were visiting their father at his 7th Street Northeast home.

"They were good kids. They never did anything wrong," said Carpenter on Thursday. "I raised them right. I did good by them and some (expletive) took it upon himself to play God and take them from me," she added.

Also attacked was their father, John Kohler, 42, and his girlfriend, Ronda Blankenship, 38. Both survived.

Police released a chilling 911 call that was made by Blankenship around 6:50 p.m. when she repeatedly begged for help, saying she was bleeding.

Blankenship eventually stopped responding to dispatchers during the call.

Melanie Lundstrum says she left the house about an hour before the call was made and that Kohler, his children and his girlfriend were planning on having a quiet family New Year's celebration.

Lundstrum said she did not believe they were expecting visitors.

"It's senseless. Those kids hurt nobody," said Lundstrum through tears. "This family hurts no one. They help everybody. They have helped in this community for years."

Police say detectives from Barberton and other agencies have been working around the clock since New Year's Eve trying to identify the killer or killers.

Authorities believe the motive might have been a robbery, although investigators aren't sure what, if anything, was taken.

Barberton Police Spokesman Officer Marty Eberhart tells Fox 8 that detectives have not yet been able to speak with Kohler or his girlfriend.

Officer Eberhart was on duty the night of the murders and was on the scene shortly after the call.

"The children were just innocent in this, just innocent victims. It's a senseless tragedy that occured to the four," said Eberhart.

The family is planning a candlelight vigil at Lake Anna in Barberton for 8 p.m. on Friday.

Police still believe someone may have information or may have seen something that can help with their investigation. They are asking anyone with information to call Barberton police at (330) 848-6709.

Click here for continuing coverage on this story.

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