A transgender teen is missing after visiting Columbus with her family. On Monday night, her parents were growing desperate for answers.
The missing teen, legally named Ray Lane, also goes by Ashley. She was last seen Saturday night at the Columbus Convention Center.
The family was in Columbus from their home near Lima for Ohayocon, a convention for fans of Japanese anime. It's an annual trip they've been making for most of Ashley's life
Now they fear her life may be in jeopardy.
There's no simple way to explain the gender identity of this 15-year-old. "There are days when he'll get up, get dressed as a girl, and he's Ashley, and she's our daughter,” explained Denver Karshner, Ashley’s stepfather. “Then there's days she'll get up and she'll dress masculine and he's our son, he's Ray."
But there's no confusion about the love of these parents.
"Whatever our child wants to be, my wife and I are going to support her, or him,” Denver adds. Karshner and his wife Karalea Lane have been bringing their family to Ohayocon for years. They say in that diverse, welcoming environment, Ray felt comfortable being Ashley.
They say Saturday night Ashley left their room at the Hampton Inn and Suites and walked across High Street to the Convention Center for a dance party from 10 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. That was the last they heard from her.
On Sunday, they called Columbus Police.
"I think for a while they were convinced that she had run away, but her winter coat, all her clothes, her cell phone charger, her glasses,” said Lane. "If you’re going to run away, you don't leave your winter coat."
She fears her child’s uniqueness may have made her a target. “Oh yeah, very much. I have a child that has the body of a boy, but the soul of a girl."
Aaron Eckhardt with the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) says there is valid cause for concern. "We know that transgender people face a higher risk of violence, face more assaults, more homicides, more medical care when they're assaulted, we take things like this maybe with a heightened sense of urgency.”
The parents say until they find their child, they're staying right here. "What I believe about my child is she's smart, but she wants to be accepted,” said Lane. “And I am very, very worried."
Ashley is 15-years-old, six feet tall with a slender build, brown eyes, and magenta-colored hair. Her parents say she was wearing a red Ohayocon wrist band with the number 06738.
Investigators tell us they are looking at surveillance footage from nearby cameras for clues. Anyone with information is asked to call Columbus Police.