Report: Ashtabula teen’s murder may have been payment for drug debt

The body of 13-year-old Kara Zdancziewski was found in Saybrook Township, Ashtabula County days after she was reported missing

John Bove
SHARON: Arrested May 11 - John Bove, 36, charged with felony fleeing and eluding, receiving stolen property, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia in Mercer County and kidnapping and grand theft of a motor vehicle in Ashtabula County


ASHTABULA, Ohio (WKBN) – Reports out of Cleveland say the 13-year-old girl kidnapped and killed in Ashtabula earlier this month may have been payment for her father’s drug debt.

News 5 in Cleveland is reporting that court records claim John Bove, 46, confessed to Ashtabula police that he killed Kara Zdancziewski and set her body on fire.

The Cleveland station also said the records claim he and another man took the girl from her home because her dad owed $3,000 for meth.

John Bove is charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping, grand theft of a motor vehicle, felony fleeing and eluding, receiving stolen property, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

Three others, also from Ashtabula, have been arrested and charged in connection with the teen’s kidnapping and death:

  • Debra Ann Bove, 47, charged with obstructing justice
  • Malachi D. Schultz, 20, charged with obstructing justice and tampering with evidence
  • Stanley Wilfong, III, 56, charged with obstructing justice and tampering with evidence

Investigators say John Bove took Zdancziewski from her home with her parents’ permission on May 10. Her body was found in Saybrook Township, Ashtabula County just days later.

News 5’s report said John Bove killed her in a field on Austinburg Road, then changed his bloody clothes at Schultz’s house. Schultz is accused of hiding the murder weapon — a knife — in an air conditioner, according to court documents.

Wilfong is accused of getting rid of John Bove’s bloody clothes, News 5 reports.

John Bove fled to Sharon but was caught after a car and foot chase with police. A woman who he was staying with tipped off law enforcement when she called police, claiming he told her “things went south” with the girl.

He is currently being held at the Mercer County Jail on $1 million bond. Efforts are being made to bring him back to Ashtabula to appear in court for his arraignment.

Debra Bove should appear in court before an Ashtabula County Grand Jury to be formally charged within 60 days.

Schultz and Wilfong will appear in Ashtabula County Municipal Court for preliminary hearings.

First-degree felony charges of murder and kidnapping were brought against Schultz previously, but have since been withdrawn until investigators learn more details about the case.

The investigation is ongoing and more charges may be filed at a later date. Investigators are still waiting on forensic and laboratory test results.

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