Sister of woman found burning in park begs for answers, justice

Bobbie Renee Simpson, 23, was found, set on fire and burning, in a creek bed at Burbank Park on Sunday. (Upper Arlington Police)

The older sister of a woman found dead in an Upper Arlington park is pleading for answers, and for whomever disposed of her loved one’s body to come forward.

The corpse of Bobbie Renee Simpson, 23, was found, set on fire and burning, in a creek bed at Burbank Park on Sunday. Police have been working to determine how Simpson ended up in the park, and who ignited her body in flames before a passerby discovered the fire.

On Tuesday, it was hard at times for Skylar Speakman to find the words to describe her sibling relationship with Bobbie Simpson. The two grew up together, living with their grandmother in Groveport, before being split up during high school.

“She was a joy,” Skylar said through tears on Tuesday. "I was by her side, and she was by my side. We were inseparable. I'd go to slumber parties and she'd be right behind me.”

Skylar shared that her sister was smart, often picking up academic subjects by reading a textbook once. She was also a natural athlete and played basketball in her youth.

But Skylar also knows that her sister led a hard life. The two were split up in high school — Skylar living with her grandmother in Chillicothe, and Bobbie staying with her father in Columbus. After high school, Skylar says Bobbie fell into drugs. Franklin County Court records confirm that Bobbie then turned to the streets to support the habit, being arrested by undercover officers three times for soliciting payment for sex.

"I tried so hard, and my mom tried,” Skylar explained through sobs Tuesday, say she did what she could to turn Bobbie’s life around. “I even ‘kidnapped’ her one night and brought her home. I loved her to pieces...I just wanted to bring her home.”

On Sunday, Skylar got the call while in the car with her young daughter. The girl loved “Aunt Ne-Ne,” Skylar said.

“(My daughter) said, ‘Aunt Ne-Ne can’t leave,” she shared.

Upper Arlington Police have not given Skylar much information as their investigation slowly unfolds. On Tuesday morning, Franklin County coroner Anahi Ortiz confirmed that the preliminary autopsy on Simpson’s burned body had been completed, but even those results were slow to come — still not made public, as a pathologist writes the official autopsy report.

Now, more than Skylar Speakman wants those answers, she wants justice for whomever did this.

"There’s no reason at all!” she said in anguish to the potential killer. “How would you feel if your sister, or your child, was taken from you, the way you took my sister from me?

“Please turn yourself in,” she said. “Please, so that my family can lay at rest.”

Skylar Speakman is planning a candlelight vigil in Upper Arlington on Thursday. In the interim, her family has started a GoFundMe account to help pay for Bobbie’s costly and unexpected funeral expenses.

Speakman said that any extra money raised would be donated to organizations that support battered women on the street.

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