Over 300 people gathered in Armstrong this Halloween at 6 p.m. to honor the memory of murder victim Taylor Van Diest who died last October 31, last year.
Residents assembled at the Armstrong Chamber of Commerce where Reverend Bari Castle spoke briefly before leading the crowd in a moment of silence. Roses were handed out and candles lit up sorrowful faces as tears were shed and memories relived.
“God, we know that not everything that happens is your will,” prayed Rev. Bari Castle.
“We know that there is evil in the world, not of your doing and there are events in life that despite our best efforts we are powerless to prevent.”
The candlelight walk began on the corner of Bridge Street and continued down Pleasant Valley Road and Rosedale Avenue until the railroad tracks, where a trail has been constructed in honour of Taylor. The 'Taylor Jade Van Diest Memorial Trail' was Taylor’s twin sister Kirstie’s idea, and 270 pumpkins lined the rocky path along the railroad tracks, where residents laid down roses as they passed.
“I didn’t know her (Taylor Van Diest) but a lot of my friends knew her and they say she was a great person, very loving,” says Jennifer Genesse, an Armstrong resident.
The shocking murder affected a number of people in the small rural community, shattering their sense of safety. But having the accused killer in jail has helped heal Armstrong.
“I do (feel safe) since they caught him but honestly before that I was walking around with a knife. I never was one to go out at night but after that it was definitely don’t go out at all. I didn’t even want to go out with my boyfriend. I pretty much stayed indoors.”
The accused, Matthew Stephen Foerster, was In court on Oct. 11, Justice Beames rejected his application for bail as well as a change of venue in the murder case of Van Diest.
Foerster, who waived his right to a preliminary hearing, will stand trial in BC Supreme Court for a duration of about six weeks.
The trial date has not yet been set.