- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Behind every face is a potential suspect.

Carmilla Rucker’s circle of life has grown progressively smaller in the two years since the death of her daughter.

Taylor Robinson disappeared from her job as an overnight health aide in an Akron home two years ago this week.

Some of the 19-year-old’s skeletal remains were discovered by hikers four months later in a wooded area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

“Everyone to me has become a suspect,” she said. “Now I have a very small circle of friends. In the beginning when I’d go out in public, people would corner me in the stores, chase me down aisles, corner me in the bathroom and it would just rattle me to no end. They would ask me questions, the main one was, who do you think did it or do the police know who did it.”

Rucker said she no longer wants to know how her daughter died.

“I know where she ended up,” said the 41-year-old. “I don’t want to know how they did it, because it’s too traumatic and I’ll visualize it over and over. So it’s not the how, so much as the who.”

Rucker got married in June and rarely ventures outside alone - instead finding solace in family, work and church.

In the days after her daughter’s disappearance on May 4, 2013, she sought her own answers and even turned to a private detective for help.

“But you get to hearing all these stories and you get all the weird phone calls and it got to be so hard,” she said. “I do a little better with handling it. I know they are all still investigating, but I don’t call the police as often and they rarely call me.”

She tries to stay busy at home and work at a job she landed in August working with MRDD adults.

“It’s peaceful. Some people look at the clients as handicapped, but when I look at them I admire them. They seem to have a peace of mind, life with no worries. I think I try to live through them and their peace. It’s my escape.”

Her new employer let her take time off around Taylor’s birthday in late January. The family threw a birthday party celebrating 50 shades of purple - Taylor’s favorite color.

A memorial service was also held for Taylor on Sept. 21 with a poster created to capture milestones of Taylor’s life. There was no funeral.

“Taylor was a good kid and she didn’t deserve what she got. I’ve always told people you’re more of a man or a woman to speak up and help, than you are to keep quiet and hide,” she said. “Being anonymous has never hurt anybody. It only hurts the people (who are) wanting your help. If it’s not their shoes that they put on and walk in it’s kind of hard to relate on a daily basis. One day I wish they could put their feet in my shoes and walk a day in my life not knowing who hurt your baby.”

She and her husband, Jeff, have a Crimestoppers sign in their front yard. It reads “Crime….Report it, Don’t Support it.”

Akron police say they are now following up with information gleaned from some recent interviews.

“We’re still trying to piece everything together. The FBI has been a vital part in this and they’ve come up with some new things as well. We’re all kind of pulling everything together going over things to see what we might have missed,” said Akron Detective Gary Shadie, one of several detectives working on the case. “We definitely believe she knew the person. We do not think it was a stranger abduction. There is nothing to indicate that there was a burglary.”

Rucker is left with memories of a daughter with a caring heart.

“I remember as a kid, Taylor always played with those who were less fortunate, those who didn’t have any friends and she was an animal lover,” her mother recalled. “She made sure we always had a pet, including rabbits and fish and ferrets. If they were caged animals she would always let them out.”

It is hard to imagine, Rucker said, that someone who truly knew her would harm her.

“If they knew her like that, if they really knew her, they wouldn’t have done what they did to her,” she said. “I don’t understand why they felt it was necessary to do that to her.”

Rucker said her daughter was interested in early childhood development and was active in sports in high school. She played softball, track and volleyball and even lettered two years in football.

She was even taking neonatal classes at Stark State College in Canton.

“She liked babies, but she didn’t want any babies,” her mother joked.

Akron detectives say they aren’t giving up on the case.

“We try to solve every case and we do take it personally. I mean Taylor could be your sister, your cousin, your aunt, any family member,” Shadie said. “We try to solve every case because the family deserves any type of justice that we can provide for them.”

Rucker said even though this week brings back painful memories - it is important to not forget and keep Taylor’s memories alive.

“I remember every day, all day, so for people just to remember one day of the year I’ll take it. It’s like people who only go to church on Easter. God takes it and so will I.”


Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, https://www.ohio.com

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