LA JUNTA, CO — "The last text was, 'Hey going to Club Q. I love you' and I told her I love her so much and that was the last thing we said to each other," said Kurt Paugh as he tries to hold back tears.
Paugh's wife, Ashley, was killed just a few hours after that last text. He says she headed to Colorado Springs from La Junta and planned to spend the night in the city with a friend.
"They went to Loonees comedy club and then they were just gonna go to a few different clubs," he said. "Just a normal girls night."
But when Paugh woke up the next morning, he got a text from the husband of the friend Ashley was with asking him to call. That man's wife had been shot and survived. He told Paugh Ashley had been shot, too.
"He knew she had got shot but didn't know where or what had happened exactly," said Paugh.
Paugh and his 11-year-old daughter, Ryleigh, immediately headed to Colorado Springs from LaJunta hoping to find Ashley in a hospital. His sister-in-law, Stephanie Clark, started desperately calling every hospital in the city.
"I gave them my name and number to call me if they found her," said Clark. "I never got the call."
Ryleigh held on to hope for all of them that her mom was alive.
"That whole day she just kept telling us, 'They’re going to find my Mommy, they’re going to find my Mommy,' " said Clark.
Later that day a detective told Paugh and Clark Ashley had not made it.
"I waited nine years to have a sibling, nine years I waited to have her," said Clark. "She was my little baby doll when she was born. Never did I think I'd be sitting here doing this and having to plan my sister’s funeral. It’s heartbreaking."
"Picking out the plot on Monday was devastating," Paugh said. "Going through pictures (was hard). We’ve been together since junior year in high school."
Now as they look back on her life, they want others to remember Ashley for her big heart and love for family and community.
"She’d see an elderly couple that was at a restaurant and she’d buy their dinner or an elderly man or woman sitting by themselves she pick up their tab," Paugh said.
As for the suspect...
"We will never say his name ever," Clark said.
But they say they will be in the courtroom every chance they can get.
"I want him to see the families that he’s destroyed," said Clark. "That broke our hearts. Nothing will ever be the same without her."
The family is asking the community to honor Ashley Paugh's memory by buying Christmas gifts for foster children through Kids Crossing where Ashley worked. Click here for info.
There is also a GoFundMe set up for their daughter's college fund. Click here for info.
The US Bank of La Junta says donors can also send funds directly to contribute to Ryleigh Paugh's college fund. Checks can be mailed to 202 Santa Fe Avenue, La Junta, CO 80150. The bank requests you make the checks payable to Kurt Paugh.
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