Taylor Van Diest has been gone for almost two years, but her memory will always be alive in her home town of Armstrong, British Columbia. Last month, a brightly lit memorial trail, abounding with wild rose bushes, was opened to honour her, near the spot she was viciously murdered in 2011 at the age of 18-years-old.
Taylor’s mother Marie Van Diest said: “We wanted to turn a site of horror into something positive and safe. We wanted to walk through there without any concerns.”
Taylor, who was beautiful both inside and out, died on Halloween evening, October 31, 2011, but she and her family have yet to see justice.
Matthew Foerster, age 27, of nearby Cherryville in the Okanagan, was arrested in Ontario five months after her brutally beaten body was found by the railroad tracks.
His father, Stephen Roy Foerster, was also charged with obstruction of justice and being an accessory to a crime. Initially his son was charged with second degree murder, but the charge was later upgraded by the RCMP to first degree murder, meaning that it was planned and deliberate.
DNA left at the crime scene by Foerster was not in any database, however, a match was made with DNA taken from a female victim of a sexual assault that occurred in Kelowna in 2005. That victim met with a police artist who created a drawing of the man who had attacked her.
Foerster will have a separate trial for that assault and a home invasion in 2004 in Cherryville where another young woman was attacked.
The Van Diest family, including Taylor’s twin sister Kirstie, are frustrated by the absence of speedy justice, but as is increasingly typical, Foerster has delayed his trial on several occasions by firing his lawyer and hiring a new one.
A new trial date is scheduled for March 2014, but there is every possibility that date will also come and go, with justice remaining elusive.
It is astounding to me that the trial has been set for six weeks, particularly because Foerster’s DNA was found at the crime scene. Why should it take a month and a half to put on a case where the DNA is damming?
Marie Van Diest is determined to see it through to ensure that the persons responsible are held accountable for their actions.
“It’s something I never would’ve dreamed of, but I’ll make it one of my life goals to make change in the justice system,” Marie says. “People say I’m so strong, but I think no, I pale in comparison to Taylor. She had the strength to take him on and fight back. She was the brave one.”
It is a truism that the dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them.
God bless the Van Diest family, and rest in peace Taylor.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang