Computer's theft leaves special needs girl unable to communicate

Computer's theft leaves special needs girl unable to communicate
Posted at 4:39 AM, Nov 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-04 01:31:30-04

FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (WKYT/CNN) - Like a lot of 14-year-old girls, Layne Barlow likes to communicate with friends, but to do that, she needs some help.

Family members said Layne was born with a condition that left her unable to walk or speak, so she had a Tobii Dynavox speech-generating computer that tracks her eyes on the screen and talks for her.

That near-miracle-making machine was stolen from their van in the parking lot at Cornerstone Church of the Nazarene on Wednesday.

"There are unintended consequences that are associated with when you take something from someone," said grandfather Marvin Barlow. "You might just see it as a computer, a laptop. But as you see now, we have taken away from her the ability to communicate with her peers and with us and her teachers."

The family was in a bit of a hurry getting to church, and Barlow said he forgot to lock the doors to their van. When they came back out, that speech-generating computer, which costs $17,000, was gone.

"Quite honestly, it's despicable what they did," said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton. 

He said if whoever stole it brings it back to the sheriff's office, they'll let them go, no questions asked.

"If it doesn't walk in here, I will find you, I promise," Melton said. "I keep my commitments, and we will get you. You're better off to do it now and turn it in, no questions asked because shortly it's going to be too late when we come knocking on your door."

Family members said they just want Layne to be able to talk to her friends, family and teachers again.

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