Many unanswered questions remain for a 16-year-old, Marya Neufeld’s family. According to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, Marya was found dead with a gunshot wound to her head. The biggest question her aunt and uncle asked when 23ABC spoke to them was why?
“Why? Every day we have the torture of these thoughts of what could she done to deserve this? How can somebody just do this to somebody and dump them off like trash?” Marya's aunt, Nancy Larson said. “We’re constantly talking and living in fear with the fact that this could be anybody. Really there was nothing different about Marya than any teenager.”
Just days before she went missing, Marya had just celebrated her sweet sixteen.
“She actually bought toys with her birthday money,” Larson said. “You’d expect teenagers to buy clothes or makeup, but no. She bought her son some toys and bought herself some Play Doh along with her little sisters.”
And like most teenagers, Larson said, Marya went to go hang out with her friends after her sister’s birthday party, March fourth, but when she didn’t come back, her family reported her missing.
“She was very protective of her little sisters and her family,” Larson said. “The last few years her mother was really sick, and she stepped up and did what she could to help out while Kim was getting chemotherapy.”
Larson said Marya ran away once as a thirteen-year-old, but this time, things were different. Larson said she was doing great in school, her family had put her in counseling, and she also had a one-year-old son to look after.
“And I thank God every day that she had him, or there would be nothing left,” Larson said.
Two days after her sister’s party, Larson said, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office showed up asking for a DNA swab. After that, KCSO later shared the news that Marya was found dead on March 6th from a gunshot wound to the head near an orchard off Tower Line Road and Buena Vista Boulevard.
Homicide detectives believe Marya was in the area of East Bakersfield and Arvin the day prior to her death. Now more than a month later, her family is still grieving, as Larson relayed this message from Marya’s mother: “You took something that didn’t belong to you,” she said. “And we’re not going to stop. We’re not going to stop until justice is served.”
Marya’s family is offering a $2000 reward for any information that can help her catch her killer.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Kern County Sheriff’s Office at (661) 861-3110 or Secret Witness at (661) 322-4040.