LITITZ, Pa. — The relationship between 18-year-old David Ludwig and 14-year-old Kara Borden was a closely guarded secret.
There was good reason to keep things quiet: Their four-year age difference displeased their parents.
"They weren't officially boyfriend and girlfriend because their parents didn't approve of them being together," said 16-year-old Stephanie Mannon, one of Kara's neighbors. "Sometimes they would secretly get together."
The tensions in the Borden house apparently spilled over last Sunday, when police say Ludwig fatally shot Kara's parents, Michael and Cathryn Borden, after an argument about their relationship, then fled with the girl. The two were found the following day after a chase and crash in Indiana. Ludwig is being held without bail on murder and kidnapping charges; Kara in the care of relatives and church members.
Saturday, the 14-year-old sat with her four siblings in the chapel of Lancaster Bible College for her parents' funeral. On the Bordens' street, white ribbons were affixed to mailboxes to honor the couple's memory.
Neighbors say the two teens met at a support group for home-schooled students. Kara's sister, Katelyn, told police she met Ludwig in May and saw him regularly at the group.
"They were good kids and they were brought up very well. What I see is, they just made some bad choices," said Vera Zimmerman, 50, who has known the Bordens for seven years and is acquainted with Ludwig's mother.
Kara has been described by neighbors and friends as a bubbly, outgoing girl who occasionally baby-sat younger children in her neighborhood and liked to play soccer. She regularly attended youth group meetings and got along well with her sister, said Kevin Eshleman, executive pastor of Ephrata Community Church.
"In my mind, that generally indicates that things are going OK at home," Eshleman said.
There were indications, however, that there was tension between Kara and her parents. Zimmerman recalled a conversation several months ago in which Cathryn Borden expressed concern about her daughter's interest in boys.
"At one point, they had cut off her Internet service because of her connection with David," Zimmerman said.
A close friend of Ludwig's, Samuel P. Lohr, told police he was "well aware" that the two "were involved in an ongoing secret intimate relationship of a sexual nature," according to a search-warrant affidavit filed in court. The two often exchanged flirtatious messages and inappropriate images electronically, the affidavit said.
Ludwig may have had a dark side, according to court documents released Friday. In an 18-minute video recovered from a laptop computer in his home, Ludwig discusses plans to conduct an armed raid on another family's home. The video shows him and another teen taking guns to a home, but court documents say they scrapped the plan because there was too much traffic.
Police have said Kara Borden is a victim in the case, but Ludwig filed court papers saying surveillance videos from various stores along the route he drove will prove she wasn't kidnapped.
Other friends say they didn't know of a relationship. Isaiah Bomberger, a 17-year-old fellow home-schooler, said he and Ludwig expected to graduate at the end of this school year.
"They were friends, but I couldn't have said they were boyfriend and girlfriend," Bomberger said. He said he couldn't believe the news about the killings.