By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
At 9, Joshua Delph hadn’t quite figured out what he wanted to be when he grew up. But his family suspects whatever it was, he would use his mind.
“He was such a smart guy,” his aunt, Julie Baker, said proudly. “It would have been something scientific or mechanical for sure.”
But Joshua never had the chance to achieve those dreams. The boy and his mother, Robynn Delph, 41, were found dead from smoke inhalation in their Anderson home on May 17, 2004. Anderson Fire Department officials said the blaze was intentionally set.
Joshua’s father and Robynn’s husband, Rex David Delph, 45, was charged with two counts of murder and arson in connection with the fire, but charges would be dropped; the case went to the Indiana Court of Appeals, which in 2007 set a deadline for the state to pursue charges. However, Delph died of cancer in 2009.
Julie said that her daughter, Becka, and Joshua were like twins, only four months apart. Anytime Joshua would come to spend time with Robynn’s family in Ohio, the children were inseparable.
“The two of them would ride bikes all over town, go to the local fairgrounds and just run around,” Julie said. “This many years later it still tears us all up inside.”
Julie laughed a little as she recalled the last time she saw her nephew.
“He told me this long, long, long story,” she said emphatically. “He was so creative. And just before he died he was really coming into his own. It was obvious that he was a very intelligent guy — scientific as well as creative. What a storyteller.”
Julie said these two losses tore the family apart inside yet brought them together in many ways.
“We’ve always been a close family, but this just brought us so much closer,” she said.
Robynn’s father, Ralph Gasche, said that Joshua was always reading.
“Everywhere he went he had some kind of reading material with him,” he said. “He was a really good kid.”
On a trip to an amusement park, Joshua spent much of the time looking at how the roller coasters worked, enjoying that more than the thrill of the rides.
The Rev. Paul Wohlford was minister at the Delphs’ neighborhood church where the family frequently attended.
“It was devastating when it happened,” Wohlford said. “I know there are some of the children that still struggle with Josh’s death today.”
He described the boy as “extremely polite” and a good kid who, like his mom, helped others.
Days before the murders, the family had been cleaning their backyard and preparing to install a swing set for Joshua. The loss was shocking and hit the family hard, but in the end brought an already tight-knit family closer together, Julie said.