Murder victim remembered as sharing, caring soul

CASTALIA On the afternoon of Nov. 5, hours before she disappeared, Carla Westhofen stopped for a cup
susanmcmillan
May 24, 2010

 

CASTALIA

On the afternoon of Nov. 5, hours before she disappeared, Carla Westhofen stopped for a cup of tea with her neighbor JoAnn Spore.

Just before that, she shared some homemade chowder with another neighbor, Dolly Young, and gave Young some "awesome" barbecued beef. Westhofen also gave away five apple pies she had just baked.

"Carla was very giving," Young said. And whether it was food or a quilt, Young said, "Carla didn't make anything unless she made it right."

Friends and relatives at a wake on Friday recalled Westhofen, 58, as kind and generous, a talented cook and seamstress and a gracious host.

Brother-in-law Fred Kocher summed up Westhofen's personality in one word.

"Sunshine," he said. "That's the way I felt about her."

Westhofen loved dancing, garage sale-ing and hosting family get-togethers at the holidays, Kocher said.

Marge Girosky said she met Westhofen about 15 years ago at her sewing shop, The Sewing Connection.

"She started as a customer and became a friend," Girosky said.

Girosky, who pitched in to help Westhofen make her daughter-in-law's embroidered wedding dress, said Westhofen was "amazingly talented" and made everything from quilts to clothes to home decor.

From the time she found out Westhofen missed an appointment Friday, Girosky was worried.

"I knew Saturday morning when I saw that that it was not going to end well," she said.

Westhofen's body was found Saturday afternoon near Erie, Pa. Her ex-boyfriend, David L. "Jody" Kromer, was charged with murder before he was found dead Wednesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

Dolly and Ray Young, whose condo shared a wall with Westhofen's in Huron Township, said her relationship with Kromer seemed perfectly ordinary.

"As long as they were together, we never saw anything unpleasant," Ray Young said.

Both were active in the small condo owners' association, neighbors said. They procured a hog for a July 4 roast and cleaned up weeds and brush around the property.

Westhofen's daughter-in-law, Caroline Dahnke, said she immediately hit it off with Westhofen when they met more than 10 years ago. They shared a love for sewing, and Dahnke called her "probably the best seamstress I've ever met."

"You could truly have not asked for a better person to have in your family," Dahnke said. "She and I clicked in the beginning."

Dozens of people filled the hall at the Castalia Lions Club on Friday to reminisce and console each other.

"There was lots of people that loved her here," Dahnke said, "and that means a lot to us."