FAIRFIELD, Ohio (FOX19) - Twenty-seven years after Christina Carnes was murdered in her own vehicle, the case remains cold, but Christina’s relatives are hopeful that even decades later, the person who pulled the trigger could serve time for the crime.
Christina, 18, was murdered in January 1994, on what was supposed to be a fun night out with friends.
According to Fairfield Police, Christina and her boyfriend did briefly meet a group of buddies at a Fairfield pool hall, but police believe only minutes after the two of them got there, they left to pick someone else up.
The couple was then seen outside of a nearby restaurant, with a third person in the vehicle, sitting in the backseat.
A short time later, Fairfield Officer Doug Day said someone spotted Christina’s car in the parking lot of what was then a child care center on Mack Road.
“Looked like it was overheating. [Someone] called for us to respond to just check on the welfare and that’s when we found them in the car,” Day said.
Police discovered Christina dead in the driver’s seat, shot by whoever had been seated behind her. Her boyfriend had also been hit by gunfire and was barely alive.
“I didn’t cry right away ‘cause I’m just like, they’re not talking about my daughter,” Gail Carnes, Christina’s mother, said.
Investigators said Christina’s boyfriend somehow survived being shot in the face, although it has been an uphill battle. He has a traumatic brain injury that has dramatically blurred his memory.
“There’s still hope that he could remember exactly what happened. He remembers bits and pieces of it, but he doesn’t remember it all,” Day said. “Somebody was in the back of a car and shot him. Somebody was in the backseat, right behind the driver, and shot them.”
Investigators looked at data from pagers and initially considered the group of friends possible suspects in the case. Day said those people have been ruled out.
Although they have fingerprint evidence, Day said they have never had enough to pinpoint the perpetrator. Their focus that night, he said, was on saving the surviving victim.
“It was a particularly bad night. I mean it was crazy cold, and there was a lot of snow on the ground. A lot of things happened, and we had to get him out,” Day said. “Whether there was evidence lost in that process trying to save his life, we don’t know, we can’t say for sure, because we don’t know what evidence was there.”
For almost three decades, Gail Carnes has been forced to live without her daughter, a young woman with a bright future ahead of her. Gail often finds herself reflecting, thinking of who her daughter was and who she could have been.
“She was funny and loud, and she was an outgoing personality,” Gail said. “She brought out a lot in me that I wasn’t able to bring out myself.”
In 2012, the family felt hopeful when police decided to review the case and re-interview those involved. However, nothing new came out of it.
Christina’s relatives said they feel frustrated with the investigation and are praying for some sort of justice.
“All I know is pure evil can do this to people. It’s just pure evil. And they don’t have to have a reason,” Juanita Woodburn, Christina’s aunt, said. “We want answers. Simple as that.”
Heartbroken by what she has lost, Gail relies on the past to carry her through the darkest days. She visits Christina at her final resting place.
“I take flowers and decorate it the best I can, and I talk to her, wish her happy birthday, and yeah, that’s how I spend Mother’s Day and her birthday and her death date,” Gail said. “I have a lot of memories of my daughter, of course, and a lot of pictures, but I can never make new ones, and I can never take new pictures.”
Even in the midst of tragedy, Gail remains hopeful that perhaps one day, she will find peace in knowing that the person who took Christina’s life will have to pay the price.
“This person, especially the shooter, has gone on for 27 years living their life, probably having a family, probably having grandchildren, enjoying their family, and I could never have that with Christina,” Gail said.
Christina’s family members said they want to see more done with the police investigation and fear detectives may have given up.
Investigators said they have done all they can when it comes to interviews and testing and need more information to pursue new leads.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040 or Fairfield Police at 513-829-8201.
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