ARMSTRONG, B.C. – Almost 100 people came out Tuesday night for an annual memorial walk for Taylor Van Diest, the 18-year-old girl who was murdered on Halloween night 2011 in Armstrong.
And while the Van Diest family is grateful for the community’s tremendous support, they say the 2016 walk will be the last.
“I’m finding it’s just become too taxing on my health,” Marie Van Diest, Taylor’s mother said. “The stress and the anxiety, it is starting to take its toll on me.”
Van Diest led the last public memorial walk down the path created in her daughter’s memory alongside the railroad tracks where the teen was murdered.
Candles were lit and flowers laid at the memorial site.
“I like to give Armstrong a sort of sense of peace. And the trail that we created was certainly created in order to do that, create a sense of peace and, dare I say, even serenity when they walk along the tracks,” said Van Diest.
Taylor’s mother said despite memorials and gatherings held in her name, nothing is helping to ease the family’s pain.
“There’s no closure. I don’t know how or why that word came about. It certainly does not apply.”
“I think for the family, more so, it is, yes, just a way of coping and dealing with the horror that we’ve had to live with for the last five years,” Van Diest said. “And we see no end in sight. But as I say, it’s just becoming a little too difficult emotionally and physically to carry on.”
Matthew Foerster, the Cherryville man convicted of killing Taylor, is waiting for the outcome of an appeal heard in June.
Van Diest said having to wait for the latest legal hurdle that could take another few months to be filed is agonizing and she feels further victimized by the delay.
“Absolutely victimized. It is just not right. We should not have to prolong the grief.”
Taylor’s mother is in favour of further penalty for murder and said the current sentence is too lenient.
“I would certainly like to see harsher sentencing for individuals like this. Twenty-five years, I’m sorry, is not enough. It’s not a lifetime. In 25 years my daughter still would have been very young and I think life should mean life, no possibility of parole.”
Van Diest said she will continue to fight for justice for her daughter to make things right for her. She said she thinks about her all day, every day.
The Armstrong teen was killed by a blow to the head. At trial, evidence was heard that suggested Foerster was following the girl with the intention of sexually assaulting her.
Foerster’s lawyer appealed the conviction and believes the trial judge erred while giving instructions to the jury about the issue of attempted sexual assault.
If the trial jury found there was an attempted sexual assault, it supports the first degree murder conviction rather than a lesser charge.
Foerster is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. If his appeal is successful, his lawyers are asking for a new trial.