The Story of Ashleigh Love
19-year-old Ashleigh Love is described by her family, friends, and neighbors as an intelligent, sweet, hardworking young woman. In the summer of 2009, Ashleigh had graduated with honors from Pius XI High School. Since then, Ashleigh occupied her time by working at an Arby’s at the local mall’s food court. In the meantime, Ashleigh explored her options for a career she might be interested in pursuing. Ashleigh resided with her mother, Tammy, her father, Joe, and two brothers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
On the night of October 5, 2009, Ashleigh Love returned home from work at Arby's. That evening, Ashleigh spent time with her family as they watched a Green Bay Packers football game. Later, Ashleigh took a shower and went to bed for the night. According to Ashleigh’s family, it was another normal night and there was nothing out of the ordinary.
At approximately 1:55 AM, an armed intruder broke into the Love’s residence. The intruder proceeded inside Ashleigh’s bedroom on the second floor. The intruder shot Ashleigh point-blank in the face with a shotgun as she slept. After the shot was fired, Tammy (Ashleigh's mother) recalls being jolted from her sleep, but she didn’t know what had woken her. After waking, Tammy alleges she heard footsteps outside her door as if someone was running down the stairs from Ashleigh's room. Tammy got out of bed to investigate the noise, and when she opened her bedroom door, the intruder was standing in front of her with a shotgun in hand. Tammy was frightened and thought the family was being robbed. She started to scream and said to the masked intruder, "take whatever you want and please leave".
After Tammy had a brief face to face encounter with the intruder, the intruder ran out of the home. Tammy screamed for Joe, who was still asleep, to “check on Ashleigh,” which he promptly did. Upon entering Ashleigh’s bedroom, Joe discovered Ashleigh’s lifeless body in her bed. As Joe later recalled on an episode of Crime Watch Daily, “All of a sudden I just see her and her face was just gone. I just started screaming, 'Who would do something like this?'"
Tammy believes that the intruder had an accomplice, recalling, “I heard something, like a flash. I could see like somebody else running.” Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of an accomplice.
Nothing was taken from the Love's household that night, which led investigators to quickly discount burglary as a motive. As a result, investigators believe that Ashleigh was specifically targeted. Nobody in the household, including the Love’s two sons, heard the gunshot. Though the intruder wore a bandanna that concealed the lower half of his face, Tammy describes him as a Hispanic male approximately 20 years of age with average height and build. The intruder had short, spiked black hair, and wore a dark zippered sweater or jacket.
Investigators scoured over Ashleigh’s social media accounts to see if there was a connection to an individual that matched Tammy’s description, but no leads surfaced. Investigators also questioned some of Ashleigh’s friends and co-workers, but none were suspect. According to the Milwaukee Police Department, everyone who knew Ashleigh in some capacity was thoroughly reviewed.
In December of 2009, Investigators disclosed that they believe Ashleigh had been secretly corresponding with a “mystery man.” Ashleigh and the man had allegedly met on several occasions prior to her murder. During a press conference with Ashleigh’s family, Milwaukee Police Det. Erik Villarreal said, “It appeared to the people that saw those two interact that she [Ashleigh] didn't want other people to know she was meeting with this person; kind of like a secret friend or acquaintance of some sort. Right now we just need to talk to him to find out what he can tell us about his involvement with Ashleigh." The man, according to Villarreal, is believed to work in construction. Ashleigh’s parents and investigators pleaded for the man to come forward, but the mystery man has yet to be identified.
There were additional reports that some saw Ashleigh entering a blue pickup truck with an unidentified man in the months before her murder, but investigators couldn’t confirm the accounts. Police Det. Erik Gulbrandson said, “We were unable to identify that particular truck or someone that would have been the person that picked her up.”
Evidence was collected from the household after the night of the murder, but the contents cannot be disclosed to protect the integrity of the investigation. When asked by Crime Watch Daily’s special correspondent Kim Goldman if there is DNA, Villarreal answered, “We recovered evidence, and some of the evidence we can't disclose at this time, but there is and has been evidence to the crime lab and back.”
Ashleigh’s family mourns the loss of their beloved daughter and sister, and hope that one day, her killer will be brought to justice. 10 years later, the murder of Ashleigh Love remains unsolved.