ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – On January 1, revelers rang in the new year while Abilene police responded to the 3100 block of College Street in north Abilene. On arrival, officers found 35-year-old Ashley Rapp lying in the street. Rapp was said to be clinging to life with injuries consistent with being run over.
She was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Her mother Janette Barff received a call parents fear. That her child was in bad shape and immediate attention was needed.
“I was told I needed to get to the hospital immediately,” Barff recalled.
The helpless nature of the situation bringing to mind just a year earlier when her grandson, Rapp’s youngest boy, was in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.
“It was that same feeling of just. Your knees want to come out from underneath you. He survived, he was alive,” Barff said.
A miracle in its own right, though his mother’s condition would not improve.
“I mean of course I was sad but most of all, I was um, I felt mad. Y’know? I felt like it didn’t have to happen,” Barff expressed.
Court documents revealed that witnesses heard screaming near Rapp’s home and saw a man dragging something near a pickup outside the home. Witnesses also reported a woman screaming “He was going to run her over.”
These claims, along with a documented history of family violence, led Rapp’s husband Robert McClure to be arrested and charged with her murder. A court case that is currently ongoing.
“I cried, I screamed, I yelled, but still it didn’t feel real,” Rapp’s friend Kristi Walker recalled.
Walker and fellow friend Christie Sylva came quickly to Barff’s side. They hope to help in any way they could as Barff raises her grandchildren, 6-year-old Xavier and 16-year-old Dae.
“It’s X (Xavier) that really gets me, because he’s at the point where he doesn’t really understand,” Sylva said.
She said the older brother, Dae, is having to grow up quickly to be there for Xavier while still dealing with that pain and loss, even in the best of times.
“He recently had a competition where he made state in a choir thing and He called me and he just lost it. He says ‘I can’t call and I can’t tell her. Y’know I can’t tell her,'” Barff said.
The love and light of their community shone through in the family’s darkest moments.
“So me and Kristi decided to do a benefit and help them out,” Sylva said.
Knowing Barff as a woman who has helped raise money and donations for many throughout her life, Sylva Walker and a host of friends organized a benefit to help her family cover burial and legal fees. A response Barff knows well, though it’s her first time on the receiving end.
“It’s very strange to be on the opposite end of it, but I’m very grateful,” Barff expressed.
Though the cause leading up to her daughter’s death has not yet been determined, Barff and her friends feel strongly that domestic violence played a role. As a survivor of family violence, Barff is fighting to get laws changed in hopes of helping others from meeting the end that victims fear.
“Yes, I feared it, everybody feared it, she feared it… My goal is to take this as far as I can with the time that I have left in this world to leave something for her boys. I want to get the laws changed and make something good come out of this,” Barff explained.
The benefit will be held at the Cabaret Club Bar at 1918 Butternut street from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4. The event will have dinner plates for sale, a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction. All proceeds will go to help the family cover burial and legal fees for Ashley Rapp.
Barff asks anyone who may have texts or anything relating to her daughter’s murder case to send them to the Abilene Police Department to help the investigation.