On Sunday, January 27, 2008, 12 year old Karissa Paige Boudreau went for a drive with her mother. Mother and daughter weren't getting along so well (no real surprises there as any parent of a daughter that age will tell you) and apparently mom was applying some of that parenting advice that talking in the car, when you don't have to actually "face each other", sometimes works better. Eventually they stop at a local grocery store and mom goes in while Karissa waits in the car. When she returns about 15 minutes later, Karissa is gone.
Fastforward two weeks, a young girl's body has been outside of town, by the side of the river. And was eventually identified as Karissa Boudreau. The police are tight-lipped on the details but are saying it's murder.
Unfortunately, that's a story you might hear repeated numerous times a day around both Canada and the US. But there's something a little different about this one; mainly, its location - the idyllyic South Shore town of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. It's a beautiful little town, split by the LaHave River. It always seems so peaceful to me, as do most places along the South Shore. It's part of Nova Scotia at its best. And now it's the scene of a murder investigation of a young girl who died much too soon.
It's a tragic story, no matter how you look at it. And it strikes even closer to home when the victim is the same as your youngest daughter. But what, in some ways, strikes me even harder, that in some way seems to make it even more tragic, is the quick spread of rumours as to what, exactly, might have happened. Perhaps in some strange way it is easier for us to think the horrific thought that somehow the parents were involved than to think that a stranger did this. Than to think that you can't safely leave your 12 year old child alone in the car while you run into the store for a few minutes. In a town like Bridgewater, of all places.
And as my much as it hurts to think of Karissa's death, my stomach clenches even more, when I hear someone repeat those rumours. Perhaps, unthinkably, we will find out there is some truth to them. Heaven knows that we have heard such horrific stories before. But for now, quite frankly, for now, we don't know. I have yet to see one iota of credible evidence to make me even consider such a thing. And unless and until I do, in honour of this half child - half woman who never had the chance to live her life and in honour of her family, I refuse to even consider such a thing. As I asked my husband last night, if Karissa was your child and people were repeating these sorts of things, how would you feel?
Sleep peacefully, Karissa. And to your family, friends and schoolmates, my deepest sympathies. And my sympathies to all of us who live in a world where we could possibly think, even for a moment, that Karissa might have met her death at the hands of her parents.
Update: I just heard that the police have two people in custody in regard to Karissa's murder and are looking for a third. Perhaps soon we will all have at least some of the answers we crave.