In A Pickle  

Paying tribute to murder victim Austyn Godfrey

Tribute to Austyn

Solemnly, we headed to the makeshift memorial site of murder victim Austyn Godfrey.

On impulse, I asked my friend Morningstar to accompany me.

As we stepped out of the vehicle, I felt encased by an overwhelming sadness and an evil presence. The killer’s vibes still lingered, along with his victim’s. Austyn’s fear, pain and anguish pulsated in the atmosphere.

We parked in front of the small monument that Austyn’s friends and strangers lovingly created, and I stuck my rose next to a floral arrangement and the signed sympathy card placed beside the tree. It was hard to light my stick of frankincense and the candle someone previously put there.

The wind extinguished my tiny flame, but not before it burned a hole in my glove. However, the stubborn fire finally ignited and the smoke from the incense wafted about.

The icy incline made it treacherous ground to walk on, in more ways than one. I carefully picked my way uphill, finding precarious footholds. I hugged the tree, going around its trunk to keep from falling. Eighty-year-old Morningstar offered her hand, which I took, but worried that we’d both take a spill.

I opened the Bible to Psalm 139 and recited it aloud, pausing at verse 12, which said, “Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You. But the night shines as the day; the dark and the light are both alike to You.”

To me this declared to the perpetrator that he did not obscure his malicious deed from God’s sight.

We concluded by reciting Psalm 23, albeit not in sync. I shook some myrrh onto the area after we finished. I believe that her blood had cried out to the Lord, and the crime tainted the soil. (Genesis 4:10 & Numbers 35:33)

With frankincense and myrrh in hand, we reclaimed the land and offered the dearly departed a sense of dignity with this solemn ritual. Frankincense symbolizes deity while myrrh stands for death and burial, part of the embalming process.

The message written inside the card read; Austyn, we are so sorry for what happened to you. You were somebody’s daughter and had friends who loved you. You are cherished. We signed with our first names.

I looked up while reading aloud as a pair of bald eagles flew by. They cried out mournfully in high-pitched whistles. A third eagle appeared, and I took that as a sign of the Trinity.

Another verse came to mind (Exodus 19:4) “He shall carry you on eagle's wings...”

I think the Creator carried Austyn to her rest until he returns in the second coming.

Afterwards, we discussed how the young lady’s family may not see justice in this life-time, but justice delayed doesn’t mean justice denied. On the day of reckoning, the Lord will avenge her; he won’t let her death go unpunished. (Romans 12:19) This verse gave Morningstar and I comfort.

Every 2 ½ days a woman or girl is killed violently in Canada and 41 percent of those deaths involved a current or former intimate partner according to a CBC News post March 19, 2021.

The death rate is higher amongst marginalized females.

Austyn may have named her killer on social media. She had confided in a friend a few hours before her death that she was trying to leave the allegedly abusive man. Her life was cut short, and it left her relatives and friends with immeasurable grief at the loss of their loved one.

I can’t imagine what they are going through.

It was good, however, that they could bring her body home and give her a proper burial with the help of GoFundMe’s generous donors.

I paid my respects to Austyn because of some similarities she shared with my younger self. What happened to her could have been my fate too. Although I am a survivor of domestic violence, her death reminded me that many women do not. Both the police and the women's shelter believed that I was in extreme danger from my estranged spouse after I took a danger assessment test at the shelter.

The RCMP in Alberta did an outstanding job of keeping me safe. Later, I was blessed to marry a loving man and have lived peacefully for over a decade now.

It’s important for me to never forget my past and how other women continue to suffer. I needed to show Austyn that Morningstar and I, a couple of strangers, cared about her.

If you’re interested in a candle light vigil for Austyn at the Glenmore Dog Park, please write to me.

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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