ASHTABULA, Ohio (WKBN) – Police said the Ashtabula man accused of kidnapping and killing a 13-year-old girl before leading officers on a chase through Sharon on Thursday befriended his victim’s father.
Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said 46-year-old John Bove wasn’t a stranger to Kara Zdanczewski, who also lived in Ashtabula.
“He befriended the father roughly four months ago. I don’t know if they worked together or something like that. Somehow they knew each other,” Stell said.
On Tuesday, the family let Zdanczewski leave with Bove from their home on Lake Road.
Investigators believe relatives of the teen’s parents were arguing that day. Her mother called Bove, asking for his help to calm the father and to take the girl away so she wouldn’t see them fight, investigators said.
They never thought it would be the last time they saw their daughter.
“I think they trusted this person and felt comfortable with their daughter leaving for a short time with him, and it didn’t turn out the way they expected it was going to,” Stell said.
When Bove didn’t bring her back, Stell said the family tried to figure out where they were. They tried calling Bove, but no answer. Zdanczewski missed two days of school.
Finally on Wednesday, the family called Ashtabula police to report the child missing.
A firefighter found her body Thursday evening in a wooded area near Sanborn Road in Saybrook Township.
That same day, law enforcement in Sharon cornered Bove and arrested him behind Sharon Regional Hospital following a car and foot chase. He bailed from a car on Edgewood Road and ran through the woods before being caught.
Neighbors are in shock and on edge after the events that unfolded over the past few days.
Danette Montgomery, a grandmother who lives two houses down from the victim’s family on Lake Road, said it’s scary.
“I seen the young girl a couple of times.”
She said the family — who she claimed was quiet and kept to themselves — moved in a couple months ago.
“For her to lose her life, knowing that she is two doors down from us, it’s crazy. Beyond crazy.”
She said Bove would walk up and down the street.
“He never corresponded with anyone so we didn’t think nothing of it.”
Jennifer Williams has lived across from Bove for about four months and is friends with his neighbor.
“Just always rubbed me the wrong way. Seemed creepy to me,” she said.
Williams said whenever he came out, she would leave the neighbor’s because Bove made her feel uncomfortable.
Montgomery’s grandchildren are 3 and 5 years old, and they always play outside with the neighbor kids.
“It could have been one of our kids because like I said, they be out here every day. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have a bunch of kids in my yard,” she said.
Now Montgomery says she’s never letting them out of her sight.