After 30 years of uncertainty, justice isn't so much on the minds of Mary Leonard's family.
Why the 17-year-old North High senior and her boyfriend, Ricky Beard, 19, died in such a brutal manner remains foremost in their thoughts.
The fact that someone knows the answers makes the questions even more baffling.
How does a young couple on a date wind up shot and stabbed and left for dead in a rural field off Riverview Road in Cuyahoga Falls?
Why was their car two miles away?
And why hasn't anyone in such a highly publicized case been held accountable?
''It's not so much who anymore; it's why? Why would someone do this?'' said Connie Leonard, wife of the slain teen's brother, Jerry.
The Beard family had many of the same thoughts as today's 30th anniversary of one the city's most daunting unsolved murders approached.
Helen Beard Plouse's quest to learn her son's true fate ended this year with her death in February at the age of 75. She now shares a grave site with him in Holy Cross cemetery.
''We wanted her to have peace about it, and we're happy for her that maybe
now she does. Maybe she got to join him,'' said Luanne Eddy, 53, Ricky Beard's sister.
Akron police officer Bob Swain hasn't given up on the case, not since the day in May 1985 when he stood guard over the crime scene west of Riverview Road between Smith and Bath roads.
After fruitless searches years earlier in the same area, the teenagers' bodies were found that day by chance. A backhoe operator digging trenches was confronted by a land owner, who called the police. An officer stayed around to keep the peace.
After more digging, Mary Leonard's body was spotted. A short while later, Ricky Beard's emerged.
It turned out Beard suffered gunshot wounds to his chest and neck. Leonard was stabbed at least once in the chest and shot multiple times in the chest.
A murder investigation was under way as one mystery ended.
The discovery of the bodies ended nearly six years of wondering what had happened to the two after they left the old Ascot Drive-In movie theater on Akron-Cleveland Road the night of Aug. 24, 1979.
Car found first
The day after they disappeared, Beard's car was found abandoned in a garage in a remote area near Northampton Road. A bullet hole dotted the windshield of his 1972 Chevrolet Impala, but there was no blood inside.
Authorities believe the person or persons responsible killed the couple in the Riverview Road field and moved the car 2.5 miles away to the garage. Robbery does not appear to be a motive.
Over the years, the families and police have received tips, hired a private investigator, enlisted the help of psychics and promised immunity to suspects.
Family members have also endured rumors and heard claims of death threats against anyone who talks about the murders. They have even fallen victim to pranksters, who once lured Leonard's family to Gorge Park with a promise of information, only to drive by, point their fingers and laugh.
In Akron, police over the years have passed the case among each other as one detective retires and another steps in. There is no DNA to help them, no real leads to go on.
Police said they recently received an anonymous call urging them to look at Edward Edwards, 76, a notorious Akron criminal linked last month by DNA to a 1980 murder of high school sweethearts in Wisconsin.
The tipster offered no other information.
For police, the beat goes on.
''It's just one case around the department we have just stayed with and stayed with,'' Swain said.
Tears still shed
Gloria and Richard Leonard, both in their 80s, still cry while talking about their daughter's abbreviated life.
She was a good girl who had dated Beard for about three months. She was the youngest daughter of seven children, looking forward to her senior year in high school. She worked at the local Acme store to help pay expenses.
''We're no closer than we were 30 years ago,'' Gloria Leonard conceded.
Ricky Beard was a hard worker, close to his family and five siblings, but a little rougher around the edges. He smoked pot and perhaps other drugs. Rumors flourish that he may have crossed someone along the way, leading to his death.
Neither teen's family talks to the other anymore. In fact, the Leonards just learned their daughter shares the same cemetery as Beard.
Their common trait, however, is the loss of a loved one and the frustration of not knowing how — or why.
''Everything has gone on,'' Eddy said. ''Life has gone on, but we always feel that loss, always feel that hole in our family.''
Anyone with information is asked to call Akron police detectives at 330-375-2490. Anonymous tips can be made at http://ci.akron.oh.us/ASP/tip.html.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.