In A Pickle  

Lack of information adds to pain for those who lost loved ones to homicide

The pain of not knowing

How horrifying it must be to receive a visit from the police, where they break the awful news of your child’s suspicious death.

Your life, as you know it, would spin out of control, becoming an endless nightmare. You would endure agony as you waited for the autopsy to be finished, so they could send your loved one's remains back home. The parent has to find a way to pay for that as, sadly, the government won't foot the bill.

Weeks later, you would go to the morgue to hold your child one last time and make funeral arrangements.

That was Michelle Godfrey’s reality two years ago, and the pain hasn’t lessened one bit, nor has her quest for justice. She urges those involved, or those with information about the death of her daughter Austyn to come forward and do the right thing. But that hasn’t happened yet.

Michelle lives in Ontario and feels left in the dark. The authorities have not yet resolved or brought justice for Austyn Godfrey's family. They have mourned her loss for two years, since a passerby discovered her body at the Glenmore Dog Park.

Michelle feels broken and has no closure. Her anguish at the sudden and unnatural death of her girl has left her devastated and despondent. She remains hopeful, however, that something will break the case wide open.

I planned on holding a third vigil on Jan. 16 to mark the second anniversary of Austyn’s death but cancelled because of the cold weather. Therefore, I have set a new date for a vigil—March 6 at 2:30 pm. We will gather at the Kelowna courthouse courtyard once again.

While holding vigils seems insufficient, it's my way of giving a voice to the voiceless and honouring Austyn's memory. Join us in the vigil for Austyn and bring a photo of your lost loved one, as strength lies in our unity.

It was such a senseless tragedy and Michelle is not alone with her loss. Sadly, there are too many people who have gone through similar experiences, losing a family member at someone else’s hands. They too complain about receiving little information regarding ongoing investigations.

Minimal information is also a problem for Tim Craig, father of the late Kenneth Craig. On March 21, 2021, someone fatally shot the 35-year-old un-housed man. While walking alongside Highway 97 in West Kelowna, young men harassed Ken and his girlfriend, and fatally shot him.

Tim Craig, from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, expressed frustration with the lack of progress on his son’s case. He hadn’t heard from police in more than a year, according to Castanet article by Nicholas Johansen published March 21, 2023.

For the loved ones left behind to grieve there is a group called MOVA (Manitoba Organization for Victim Assistance). According to its website, it provides homicide grief services.

“When a loved one is murdered, the grief is complicated and emotions such as anger and profound sadness are more intense and longer lasting than in other kinds of loss. The shock, horror and intentional cruelty of homicide throw us into acute turmoil for which there is no preparation,” says the MOVA website.

The organization has a unique approach, where victims help victims. MOVA’s mandate is to support co-victims of homicide, increase public awareness of co-victim rights and work with the government to make changes to the legal system. Along with that, it also helps co-victims navigate the court procedures, access grief counselling and provides long-term support.

Closer to home, in Surrey, there is a homicide support group called BCVOH (British Columbia Victims of Homicide) which offers similar supports. There is online traumatic loss facilitator training done on Zoom, along with a myriad of other types of help.

I hope to open a chapter of BCVOH in Kelowna with the help of others.

The entire community is affected when a murder happens. These homicides include victims of a tainted drug supply and any other traumatic, unnatural death caused by someone else.

Enhancing transparency and collaboration between co-victims and the police is vital in solving these killings and bringing the perpetrators to justice, acknowledging the importance of every human life.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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