When Ohio’s top prosecutor announced the arrest of a sex worker accused of drugging and killing four clients, he disregarded the victims and instead shamed them, according to the family of one victim.
“Don’t buy sex in Ohio – it ruins lives and could cost you yours,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said last month in a news release detailing the charges against serial murder suspect Rebecca Auborn, who was also charged with attempted murder a man. fifth customer.
Christyn Crockett, 41, a church administrator in the Columbus area and daughter of victim Wayne Akin, called Yost’s comments “devastating.”
“He’s not wrong,” Crockett said in her first interview of her father, a former postal worker who struggled with drug addiction yet provided a “strong foundation” for his family. “But for the sake of the victims, it’s just so insensitive.”
Crockett’s husband, Ittai Crockett, said that while Auborn’s alleged victims may have broken the law, they are still people who “have family, who have grandchildren; There are people who care about them.”
“It was just a form of victim shaming,” he said.
In an interview, Yost said Akin’s family and the other families are crime survivors and that he recognized their trauma.
“That said, and my sincerest condolences go out to them, they were respectfully not my audience,” Yost said. “My audience was the many, many men who buy sex every day, who are complicit in human trafficking and who act dangerously.”
“There is no sensitive way to talk about bad things,” he added. “You are not doing anyone a favor or a favor by neglecting to talk about evil.”
In the joint statement, authorities accused Auborn of drugging and robbing five men from December to June. She is accused of supplying them with fentanyl, according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC News.
Auborn, 33, has pleaded not guilty to more than 20 counts of murder, aggravated robbery, involuntary manslaughter and other crimes, court records show. Her attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Her mother-in-law declined to comment and her husband did not respond to a request for comment.
A total transformation
Akin was pronounced dead at his North Columbus apartment at 12:44 a.m. on April 17 — his 64th birthday — according to a coroner’s report.
Crockett said growing up, she understood that her father was a kind-hearted family man and a gifted tinkerer — someone who spent hours in the basement building computers and had managed to move his family from a rough part of Columbus.
“We escaped that lifestyle because of my father,” she said. “He always wanted to make sure we had a good life with stable parents and a solid upbringing.”
Then, in the early 2000s, toward the end of his tenure at a Postal Service distribution center, Akin developed chronic fatigue syndrome and could barely do anything physically, Crockett said. After turning to cocaine, he disappeared completely, Crockett said.
“He just turned into someone I didn’t know,” she said. “The friendliness has never gone away, the smiles, the jokes. It’s just… when someone is under the influence, they’re just not themselves.”
Crockett’s parents divorced, and as her own family began to grow — she and her husband have three children — she became estranged from her father, she said. For more than a decade, Crockett saw him only occasionally at family events, she said.
In 2018, when Crockett returned to Columbus after nearly a decade, she and her father began to repair their relationship, she said. He called on birthdays — for his grandchildren, for his daughter, for his son-in-law — and Crockett would call his number whenever he came to mind, she said.
Then came December 12th. Crockett had written a children’s play for her church and invited her family. She asked both her parents to attend, she said. When her father showed up, Crockett said, she could see how much effort he had put into it: He was drug-free, his hair had grown out and he was wearing a nice gray suit.
“He came in and my mom was there,” Crockett said. “And they laughed and talked and talked about how all the kids grew up and how all their hard work paid off. It was just so great to see people like that. of reconciliation happen.”
A sudden death
Crockett had a plan on April 17: She would call her father at 11:59 p.m. — one minute before the end of his 64th birthday — to get back at him. He hadn’t called on her birthday two days earlier.
“I’m going to give it to him,” Crockett recalled thinking at the time. “But I’m also going to tell him happy birthday.”
Instead, while traveling to Tennessee on a pastor’s retreat that day, she learned from her husband that her father was dead. Crockett immediately returned to Ohio. Initially, she thought her father had died of natural causes, but after receiving the keys to his apartment, she changed her mind.
His wallet and phone were missing, she said, and she found a pair of women’s underwear and shorts on his apartment floor. Crockett reported her suspicions to local authorities, she said, but someone answering the Columbus Police Division’s non-emergency line described Akin’s death as non-suspicious and told her to report the items missing. (She said no, because she believed there was little point.)
A police spokesperson declined to comment on Crockett’s story or other questions about Akin’s case.
In May, Crockett said, she began corresponding with a woman who contacted her family through social media. The woman said she knew Auborn and Akin and had information about her father’s death, Crockett said.
Crockett declined to provide further details about the conversation, saying she did not want to jeopardize the criminal case against Auborn, but at the time, she said, she was trying to provide information to Columbus police.
“They said unfortunately we had to wait for the toxicology, and once that came back they could pursue something,” she recalled an officer saying during a visit to the department’s headquarters.
Crockett didn’t understand how the toxicology results would reveal whether her father was the victim of a murder, she said, “but I just went with it.”
The woman told Crockett something else that stuck with her — and left her struggling to understand what her father’s relationship with Auborn had been.
In a May 6 Facebook post that Crockett shared with NBC News, the woman appeared to say Akin was not interested in purchasing sex.
“There is no [too] a lot of people like your dad,” wrote the woman, whose name Crockett redacted from the screenshot to protect her privacy. He “lets you come over, you can relax, take a shower, he feeds you and spends a lot of money so you are happy and all he wants is someone to chill and talk to.”
Yost said he was not familiar with the story and that he is not the prosecutor handling the case.
“I wouldn’t answer your question if I were that person because we’re going to try our case in court,” he added.
A larger investigation
Crockett said she didn’t hear from a Columbus police detective until July or August — weeks after the June 17 death of one of Auborn’s other alleged victims — she said. The officer said Akin’s case is now part of an active investigation, Crockett said.
That first call was short-lived, she said. But according to her husband, during a follow-up interview, the detective apologized for the department’s initial lack of urgency in approaching Akin’s case as a suspicious death.
“I had to thank him because he made my wife cry,” he said. “He was very empathetic.”
Crockett said she wasn’t angry with the department. She pointed to the rise in fentanyl deaths and said it was not “impossible for them to believe that this was just a ‘junkie situation’.”
Crockett said she was relieved when she heard about Auborn’s arrest — and that her suspicions were finally confirmed.
“Truly, everything good and sweet about me comes from my father,” she said. “How can you grow up like this and keep it up all your life, only to have the man who shaped you this way die so tragically?”
“It was hard,” she added. “But it was a relief to know he wasn’t just doing this to himself.”