Heartless thieves have stolen this disabled teen's only way to communicate

Thieves recently stole the speaking computer of 14-year-old Layne Barlow, left. (Photo: GoFundMe)

When an as yet unidentified thief broke into a Kentucky teen’s family car, she lost more than just a computer — she lost the ability to speak.

Layne Barlow, 14, was born with a disability similar to cerebral palsy. She can’t talk or care for herself. To communicate she uses a computer with advanced eye-scanning technology: the Tobii Dynavox speech generating computer, which reportedly costs $17,000.

The computer was stolen Wednesday night from the family’s van parked at Cornerstone Church of the Nazarene in Franklin County.

“There are unintended consequences … when you take something from someone,” said Layne’s grandfather Marvin. “You might just see it as a computer, a laptop. But as you see now, you have taken away from her the ability to communicate with her peers and with us and her teachers.”

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department held a press conference Friday to ask the public for help and to send a message directly to the thief or thieves involved.

“If it doesn’t walk in here, I will find you. I promise,” said Sheriff Pat Melton, directed at the thief or thieves of the device. “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.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up with a goal of raising $1,500 towards the deductible needed to replace the computer. Layne’s family and the local authorities are also asking for anyone with information to get in touch with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

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