In A Pickle  

Memorial marks second anniversary of young woman's mysterious death

Sombre ceremony held

Austyn Godfrey was the light of her mom, Michelle’s, life until someone extinguished her light Jan. 16, 2022.

The culprit(s) publicly disposed of Austyn’s body at the Glenmore Dog Park in Kelowna. Why the dog park? Was there a sadistic message behind it?

The despicable act motivated me to coordinate a vigil in Austyn's honour after I visited the makeshift memorial her friends created and which still stands today. My desire was to give the young woman the respect that was taken away from her in her last moments.

The lack of public outcry about this heinous crime was disturbing. Imagine if she were from a local family with connections here, would it have made any difference? I wondered.

The authorities still haven't solved the case or made any arrests.

With the goal of preserving Austyn's memory, I extended invitations to the local media, along with the public and my church family, to observe the now second anniversary of her death, albeit a few months later.

Ten of us Adventist Christians paid tribute to Austyn, along with five reporters in attendance. We gathered at the Kelowna courthouse courtyard March 6. The sky was sunny and blue, however, an icy wind blew from across the lake.

It seemed appropriate for the occasion of her chilling death. Being accompanied by my “peeps” was comforting, but I felt discouraged by the absence of others. I hoped the (residents) who have suffered loss from violence would unite for strength and solace.

I want to start a local chapter of the B.C. Homicide Grief Support Group, aiming for no one to have to suffer alone.

I read aloud, to our small group, disturbing information from Statistics Canada about homicides in 2023. Additionally, I sought information from the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. A few of the points included were:

• Although most murder victims are men and boys, women and girls are disproportionately killed by someone they know, namely an intimate partner or family member.” (David and Jaffray, 2022; Dawson et al., 2021; UNODC, 2022a; UNODC, 2018.)

• Men in our country kill a woman or girl every other day on average. (The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability)

After giving an overview of those appalling statistics, I read a poem about Austyn I wrote for Michelle, who shared with me her grief and told me about her daily struggles without her only child.

Ode to Austyn

The last time we were together, we argued, and you left in a huff.
I wish that our parting words hadn’t been so rough.
Austyn, I only wanted to protect you from your frenemies,
But now all I have left of you are my memories.
My big hearted girl, you saw the best in everyone, gave them the benefit of doubt.
I tried to warn you, dear girl, but my motherly instincts didn’t hold any clout.

In agony, I soak my pillow with never ending tears. There’s nothing to console me in my grief and in my fears.
Two years ago on January 16th, someone took your life away. There are no words that adequately describe the anguish I feel to this day.
I am so broken and in such pain but my search for justice won’t be in vain.
Somewhere, someone knows something and I beg you to do what is right. As a mother bear, just be aware I’ll never give up the fight.

Oh Austyn, how I long for your loving embrace, your smile and contagious laughter that filled my heart with joy. Along came the Enemy who would steal, kill and destroy.
The last few years of your life do not define you, my precious only child.
Instead those who exploited and murdered you are the most reviled.

You fed the homeless as a youngster and had a love for human and fur babies too. Your life plans, and dreams have all since gone askew.
I’ll never see you married and have children of your own that you desired.
It’s all because of someone's evil deed, those dreams have now expired.

But this is not the end, as your memory lives on. The suffering that I feel will never be gone.
I held you so tenderly at birth then one last time in the mortuary. How someone could snuff out your life, was it all so arbitrary?
I release you from my arms into our Heavenly Fathers, to hold you close as you sleep. In His loving arms, your soul is his to keep.

Austyn Ann Godfrey, April 6, 1996 – Jan. 16, 2022.

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

More In A Pickle articles

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.

Previous Stories