Who Killed Barbara?

Barbara Barnes

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


  1. Sharon

    I think of Barbara Barns quite often. There was a sex offender that lived across the bridge on Pleasant Heights. Out of the back window of his mother’s house you can see onto the street where Barbara went missing. I know someone who lived in that house after the mother died and I stood at that window. At the time of her disappearance this man living on Pleasant Heights and was working at the Pittsburgh Airport as a server. He had to drive that way going to work at the airport. Across the bridge and make a left down to the corner where she was last seen. I was in the airport a couple months after the disappearance and he was there. I didn’t know at the time that this man was sex offender. I had heard he was the Columbus rapist and had spent time in jail. In fact, he was arrested for sexual deviant behavior with a minor and was in jail in California. Not too long after Barbara’s murder he was arrested in Pittsburgh trying to lure some girls into his car. He was sent to Atascadero, Ca, where there is a jail for sexual deviants. While he was there his DNA showed up in a case in Florida and he was extradited to Florida where he has a life sentence. He had kidnapped a girl in Florida and left her tied up and someone luckily found her.

  2. derek

    Larry!! I worked with him at the airport

  3. Amanda

    Has this lead been looked into by authorities!?

  4. Juggy

    This has been my theory all along. I have a friend who knew him. Although he has no evidence he thinks that he is responsible. I talk to a Steubenville Police Officer and he said they searched his house and found nothing. They believe the mother is hiding something. Which goes back to a family member as a suspect. Read on at these links.



  5. estherundermates

    There are crimes and there are crimes. This is the one that still makes so many of us ill.
    I don’t grasp enough spiritually to understand why these things happen, just pray she is at peace and that her family has been able to find some peace, though I don’t know how families can ever be “right” after something like this happens.
    Though Faith requires forgiveness, this kind of EVIL must be reckoned with here and in the hereafter. May God have mercy on the murderer, I’m just not that virtuous, though I keep trying.
    Thank you for mentioning the Barbara story, though I never knew her or her family, it still pains me and many others to contemplate the evil she faced.

    1. prinnie (Post author)

      I hope that this is a cold case that they will be able to solve one of these days.

  6. alice

    Sadly there are active cases locally that don’t seem to be “active.” At least 5 murders maybe more, I’ve lost count, just this yr. alone. Unless the murderers turn themselves in here, it doesn’t seem murders get solved or are even under investigation. Solving crimes does not seem to be a priority w/ LE. We never hear about the serious crimes after the initial reporting in media, so this is what we are left to believe. Wish I was wrong, but this is how we think, feel around here. I speak for at least more than a few.
    The Barbara case will likely remain an “unsolved mystery.” Unlike the cold case shows on TV, in our real world, at least here, the likelihood of crimes being solved is, well, unlikely.
    Again, wish I was wrong. I wish they would prove me wrong. We would feel a lot safer.

  7. S4mij0

    I was just searching this story because I was reminded of it on FB. It was the December after I graduated HS and happened upon my favorite blog….yours…

    The funny part is here you are in May 2012 writing a story about Steubenville…when some assholes claimed you never did before August 2012….lol!

    Still such a tragic story.

    Love ya…also HEY :*

    1. prinnie (Post author)

      Yes, her case has always intrigued me. My brother, B went to school with her and knew her. We lived on the hilltop at the time. It’s awful that the person who did this is still walking around somewhere. Stash said they really believe they know who did it, but were never able to get enough evidence to prove it and bring charges. She had a rough life. For as much as her mother tried to care for her, there sure were a lot of men in her life who shouldn’t have been.

      Is there a link to the FB story? I’d like to read it.

      Love you, too. <3

  8. S4mij0

    It was just a fb friend commenting that they remembered every detail…I will see if I can find it and link you to it there

  9. Stacy

    I was in the sixth grade and lived right across the river in Weirton when this happened… I’m friends with Barbaras sister Melissa on fb and, let’s just say that there are a lot of things left unsaid on her mother’s part…. Maybe helping in covering it up, or maybe she just doesn’t want to believe it, but it’s a shame…


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