Slain Ogden toddler's father speaks out

Friday , August 29, 2014 - 7:21 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — James La Buy wants the public to know his daughter has a name. It is Kenzie Rose La Buy.

“She is not just a 14-month old baby girl who died,” said La Buy, of Everett, Washington, at a media conference Friday at an Ogden hotel.

“This case is not about Adam Barney. This case is not about Kaci (Rupert, the toddler’s mother). This case is about Kenzie Rose La Buy and she deserves to be acknowledged,” said La Buy as he broke down in tears. 

He said, “Kenzie was my princess. She meant the world to me.” 

The toddler was energetic, fun and happy most of the time, and she enjoyed playing with her Husky stuffed animal, following La Buy around and playing “Super Baby,” he said. 

“She always wanted to be with daddy when I was with her,” La Buy said. 

La Buy, along with his mother, Julia Evans, and younger brother Steven Evans, traveled from Everett after learning of his daughter’s death earlier this week. They spent two hours on Thursday speaking with the Ogden Police Department about the case and the charges filed against Adam Joseph Barney, who was the live-in boyfriend of Rupert. They are now hoping they will be able to take Kenzie’s remains back to Everett, where she was born 15 months ago. 

Kenzie “was a little doll,” said Julie Evans, about the girl, who was born on May 29, 2013. 

Julie Evans said the last time she saw her only grandchild was in February, before La Buy and Rupert moved to Utah. 

“She was a healthy, happy, bouncy baby,” Julie Evans said. 

The last time La Buy saw Kenzie Rose was on May 31. On that day, he said, Rupert told him she was going to run some errands with her two sons and their daughter, then go to a pool party with some friends. She did not return home that night. The following day while he slept, Rupert came back, dropped off the car and took some items for the children, La Buy said.

He moved back to Everett, where he has family, three weeks ago for a job. He said he and Rupert, whom he met in Texas, moved from Everett to Ogden in February with hopes of becoming “a stronger family unit.”

Barney, 23, was booked into the Weber County Jail and charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, which holds a maximum sentence of up to life in prison. Bail is set for $100,000.

La Buy said he feels sorry for Barney, but wants Barney to pay for what has happened.

La Buy said he never met Barney, but saw him several times at church.

“I’m not going to lie, you know that gut feeling when you see someone,” La Buy said.

He said Rupert assured him that Barney was “a trustworthy, caring person and the children loved him,” La Buy said. He said he has not spoken to Rupert since returning to Ogden.

La Buy said it is up to God to determine what punishment Barney should receive. He said he would not discuss specifics of the case, upon the advice of investigators.

’I can’t in good conscience condemn (Barney) completely for what he did,“ La Buy said, with tears flowing down his cheeks. ”I’m wanting to be able to forgive him in some way, but I am hurt by what he did.“

La Buy did acknowledge there was an investigation conducted by the Division of Children and Family Services concerning his parenting skills. He would not discuss the specifics, but said the investigation determined the allegations were unfounded and the case was closed.

Ogden police said Barney was arrested after emergency crews responded to reports of an unresponsive child at the Western Colony Inn at 234 24th St., No. 2, at about 6:12 p.m.Monday. Responders found the girl dead.

Barney was questioned by police and admitted that he hit the child and squeezed her, causing severe injury, officers said. The state Medical Examiner said the child died of blunt force trauma.

The child’s mother was working at the time of the incident.

Police say the DCFS is involved and has removed two other children, ages 3 and 5, from the household. The family had apparently been living in the hotel.

La Buy said he is worried about Kenzie’s two brothers. He said he knows they loved their little sister, and he hopes they will receive help. 

The family has set up a Facebook page to honor Kenzie. It is called ”Justice for Kenzie Rose.“  

Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE. Like her on Facebook

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