Mandy Gottschalk, a 36-year-old mom of four kids from Ashtabula, Ohio, disappeared from her home there in the early morning hours of August 15, after a trip to the Lake Erie beach resort town of Geneva-On-Lake, about 20 minutes away. But the search for Gottschalk, who was described by her family as a loving mother known for her lively sense of humor, ended in heartbreaking fashion last Monday.
Investigators discovered the body of Mandy Gottschalk buried in a shallow grave off of Washington Avenue in Ashtabula, a short distance from her home — the home where police say she was murdered nine days earlier. And according to charges now filed against her accused killer and his alleged accomplice, she became just the latest of the hundreds of women killed by intimate partners every year.
“We would have loved a better outcome,” Ashtabula County Sheriff Bill Johnson told WJW-TV in Clevealnd. “But this gets the family some closure. We arrested people who caused this death and that is the most important thing at this particular time.”
According to a report on another Cleveland station, WEWS-TV, Gottschalk and her live-in boyfriend, Kyle Starkey (pictured above, left), had some sort of a fight or argument during their time together at the lake. Gottschalk then left without him, getting a ride from a female friend who dropped her off at home at about 2 a.m.
Starkey initially told police that he arrived back at the house about two hours later and his girlfriend simply wasn’t there. When Mandy was still not heard from more than a day later, her family reported her as a missing person and the search began.
But police continued to question Starkey, and they came to believe that Starkey killed Mandy Gottschalk, who they say died from the result of a traumatic blunt force injury.
Then, they say, he called his buddy, Ryan McBride (pictured above, right) who, instead of reporting the murder to police, helped his friend take Mandy Gottschalk’s body out of the house, and then dig a makeshift grave and bury her.
“She was so funny to talk to,” said Allison Zoblisien, a cousin of Mandy Gottschalk. “She had four beautiful, beautiful children and she just loved them so much.”
Starkey has now been charged with murder, as well as abuse of a corpse and gross abuse of a corpse. McBride is charged with gross abuse of a corpse, as well as obstruction of justice for allegedly helping his buddy cover up the murder of Mandy Gottschalk.
According to recent statistics, Many Gottschalk now joins the long list of approximately three women every day who are killed by male romantic partners. In 2011, 1,509 women were killed by men known to them — 926 by men with whom they were involved on an intimate basis. Between 2001 and 2012, 11,766 women were murdered by men with whom they were currently or formerly in a relationship — a number about 80 percent greater that the total of United States soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq during that time period.
[Images: Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office]