Steubenville, Ohio is best known for being the hometown of Dean Martin. There is a cold case there that has always been in the back of my mind. My little brother was friends with Barbara Barns. They attended the same school and she lived a few blocks away. Barbara disappeared on the morning of Dec. 7, 1995, while walking to Harding Middle School. Like all the kids on the “hill”, she walked to and from school.
Barbara and her family lived in the LaBelle section of Steubenville, Ohio. Locals call it “the hill”. The LaBelle section of Steubenville sits high atop a hill and overlooks the Ohio River. The view down the hill is a grim one, with overgrown slopes and years of mill dust caked onto the siding of mill row houses. Barges still use the waterways of the Ohio River to reach their destinations. There are many secrets in this little town, and one of them is “who killed Barbara Barnes?”
It was cold that December morning in Steubenville when Barbara Barnes left her house for the walk to school. Barbara was a quiet girl and those who knew her said that she rarely spoke out of turn. Her principal described her as very pleasant and she was at the top of her class. She was one of three children who lived with her mother. They were very poor, and Barbara’s father had been murdered seven years earlier. She had a rough life, but never complained to anyone about it.
In the months prior to her disappearance, Barbara’s mother said that she had changed. Barbara’s father had died a few years earlier when he was shot during an argument. Barbara’s mother said that she was having memories of her father and it was playing hard on her emotions. Maybe that was the reason for the change in her personality, or there could have been other things going on in her life. There were some pretty shady people that were hanging around her mother’s home in those days. Barbara didn’t come home from school and evening came and went and there was still no Barbara. By night fall her mother was very worried and called police. At 8:24 PM, Kathy Barnes called the Steubenville Police Department to report her missing.
Three months later on February 22, 1996, when some road surveyors near Clinton, Pennsylvania, were working in the area, they found a young girl’s body in a shallow grave. Oddly enough, her body was found less than a mile from a farm that her uncle, Louis Boyce owned. Investigators took soil samples from shovels that he had at his farm, but the samples did not match the soil where Barbara’s body was found. He was also given a lie detector and ” flunked the polygraph miserably”. To date, no one has been arrested for the murder of Barbara Barnes.
Anyone with information on Barbara’s murder is asked to contact the Steubenville Police Department.
Related link: WTOV9