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Parents call for justice after the murder of Samantha Guthrie, teen's body dumped in wooded area

Posted at 5:16 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 17:50:27-05

John Guthrie and Joni Jackson spent three weeks, including part of Thanksgiving, desperately searching for their 18-year-old daughter, Samantha Guthrie.

But three days later on November 25, their worst fears were realized when John Guthrie's phone rang.

"Akron police called me at 7:11 a.m. Sunday morning. You know you get a call that early on a Sunday morning from the police station, I knew she was found," he said.

Through their anguish, Samantha Guthrie's parents spoke with News 5 about their daughter' short life, how they struggled to keep her away from drugs and their quest to get justice for the teen's accused killers.

"Everyone says children are our future and they took my future and they need to pay for it," John Guthrie said. "I loved my daughter very dearly. I'll never get to walk her down the aisle or anything."

Guthrie and Jackson said their daughter got into the wrong crowd and started using drugs-- they suspect meth-- around the age of 16.

She got arrested four times before the age of 18.

Jackson said she pushed the juvenile court to place Samantha in rehab, but instead, she was sent to outpatient therapy and the struggle continued.

"And they just kept releasing her from jail. I tried to get her arrested. They wouldn't take her to jail. They'd just write her a ticket and said, 'Oh, bring her to court,'" Jackson said.

Shortly after her 18th birthday, Samantha Guthrie moved out of her father's house.

She was last seen on November 4 inside an abandoned drug house on Lillian Street near the Akron Zoo.

Sometime after that, John Guthrie received a phone call from a man who said he had been inside that house and something terrible happened to Samantha Guthrie.

"Someone called me and told me she was shot and thrown in the trunk of a car," he said.

Family members, friends, strangers and even a team from Texas Equusearch scoured the area looking for Samantha Guthrie but didn't have any luck.

RELATED: National group Texas EqquSearch in Akron to plan search for missing teen, Samantha Guthrie

In the meantime, Akron police continued to investigate and charged four people in connection with the disappearance.

Two of the suspects, Danny Hamby, 39, and Toni Kenney, 31, were charged with murder after New Franklin police found Samantha's body under leaves and branches in a wooded area of Rex Hill Road.

The Summit County Medical Examiner said she died from a gunshot wound to her head and also had a cut on her neck.

Records show Hamby is a registered sex offender and has been in and out of Ohio prisons 11 times since 1998 for crimes, including corruption of a minor, breaking and entering, burglary, domestic violence, and various drug charges.

Last August, he stood before a Summit County judge again and pleaded guilty to more drug counts. However, this time, the judge gave Hamby two years of community control rather than prison time.

Jackson feels Hamby should not have been on the streets at the time of the murder.

"People need to start putting harsher sentences on criminals," she said.

"I believe the justice system failed Samantha," John Guthrie added.

The family is holding a celebration of life service for Samantha Guthrie on Saturday, December 1 at the Italian Center on Tallmadge Road from 2 p.m to 6 p.m.