Jocelyn Ybarra, a 23-year-old woman killed over the weekend in Kansas City, Kan., had long dreamed of being a mother.
She treated her nieces as her own children, using what little money she had to buy them paint materials, dance shoes and clothing — even as she struggled with homelessness and addiction.
“She was better than me, a better mom than I was,” said Clara Morales, Ybarra’s mother.
Her love of children and wish to have her own made Tuesday’s discovery that Ybarra was 12 weeks pregnant when she was slain even more heartbreaking for a family who thought the loss of a loved one couldn’t get any worse.
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Ybarra’s body was found Saturday night in the 1900 block of North 41st Terrace, near Parallel Parkway and Interstate 635. A neighbor reported hearing a scream followed by at least two gunshots. The vehicle Ybarra was in rolled downhill through the neighborhood and came to rest in a driveway, where it was found still running with three doors left open.
The day before, Ybarra had breakfast with her mother and father. She hadn’t told her family of the pregnancy, making her relatives wonder if she’d even known about it.
“She was always so good with my kids,” said her older sister, Yesenia Ibarra. “She was so patient with them, jumped on the trampoline with them, taught them to swim, took them to the movies. ... She always said, ‘You have to act like a kid. You can’t always tell them: Don’t do that.’ “
Yesenia Ibarra translated for her mother as she spoke outside her Kansas City, Kansas, home.
“Now I’m not going to have a (grandchild) by her,” Morales said. “I would’ve wanted her to have it, to see if she would change.”
Ybarra, who had altered her last name by one letter after she was a victim of fraud, was living with various friends before she was killed. She used “harder” drugs after an altercation with an ex-boyfriend in which she suffered a wound on the back of her neck. She eventually filed a restraining order against the man, her family said.
Her sister and mother wondered if the experience exacerbated her drug use.
“She had a lot of struggles,” Yesenia Ibarra said. “Very depressed, a lot of anxiety. ... She was trying to find love somewhere, find something to cure what she (felt) inside.”
Ybarra grew up in Kansas City, Kan., attending Turner High School. She studied to be a nurse at a California college but didn’t graduate, said her younger brothers, Esteban and Alejandro Ibarra.
Alejandro Ibarra, who answered the door when police came to relay the tragic news, recalled the gradual way he told his mother and sister that Ybarra was gone. On Tuesday, as his young relatives played on a trampoline nearby, he said he’s unsure how he’ll explain to them what happened to their loving aunt.
“I’m still trying to figure it out myself,” he said.
Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.