‘I just can’t forget about it’: Ashley Johnson-Barr’s family copes with her loss

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KOTZEBUE, Alaska (KTUU) - One year after Ashley Johnson-Barr was murdered outside Kotzebue, family members are still coming to terms with her loss.

“People say the first year is going to be the hardest and I can tell you, it was the hardest thing to go through,” said Scotty Barr, Ashley’s father, on Saturday.

Scotty said holidays have been difficult for him and wife Josie Johnson.

On the night of March 11, Barr found himself lying awake late at night. “Tomorrow is going to be the hardest day for me, tomorrow is Ashley’s 11th birthday.”

Barr’s 20-year-old son Koby has felt lost since sister Ashley’s death. He has had some run-ins with the law but says he’s trying to fix things for the sake of his own daughter

“I just can’t forget about it though,” he said.

Despite the tough times, there have been fun moments of togetherness for the family in the past year too. A 10-day trip to Chicago was the first time Johnson and the kids had been out of Alaska.

“It was a great distraction,” Barr said.

The family walked around with the kids marveling at the skyscrapers. They were also able to see two NBA games.

Coming back to Kotzebue was a tough dose of reality, said Barr. He had worked as a ramp service agent at Ravn Air for four years but finds himself unable to work.

Barr says the company told him to take the time off and that “he needs to come back 100% healthy, mentally and emotionally.”

Part of the healing involves visiting his daughter’s grave.

“I spent so many days, sleeping right next to her for so many hours,” Barr said. “Crying to her, holding her, laying next to her, just like when she was around.”

Despite the rough year, Johnson-Barr’s parents are trying to heal and live for their five other children. “You can tell it’s been a long year, it isn’t easy.”

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The final of a three-part series on Johnson-Barr will air Wednesday on the Newhour at 6:00 p.m. about her legacy