I’ve never personally known someone who had been murdered, until the end of July.
I know a heck of lot of people – it comes with the nature of my job, and all the various communities that I’m a member of or connected to.
So, this was bound to happen eventually, I guess.
We’d heard about Melissa Richmond’s disappearance, the flyering, the searches, the locating of her car, and we were planning going to go help with the search on that Sunday, when we learned that (if memory serves), police asked the searchers to take the day off.
To me, once the car was located, they should have organized a large search of the entire area that it had been located in, which they were keeping under wraps.
I can understand that at this point, it wasn’t a murder investigation, but the police probably were thinking it would be, and that police probably wouldn’t want untrained civilians stumbling around the (potential) crime scene.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know Melissa well – we’re both pretty sure we’d never met her husband, but I’d talked to her numerous times at dance events over the years. She was exactly as described – nice, funny and friendly. She was close friends with many of our close friends, and the whole thing shook me harder than I’d have expected.
I know a few people who have been victims of violence – heck one night back in the early 90s I was attacked by a drunk guy (that was over with in about a minute with his face pressed into the pavement, my knee in his back, and his arm twisted up behind him – and then the three hour adrenaline rush).
At least one person I know has been the victim of spousal abuse/violence. Even today when we discuss it, it makes no sense to either of us.
But never murder.
The week leading up to our departure to Algonquin park had my mind seriously preoccupied with this. It felt like every tangent my brain (trust me, that’s a lot) took led me to murder and the possibility of a husband killing his wife.
I sought comfort in numbers, computing the approximate size of of the various sets of people I know, the murder rate over the years, fairly sure that it was a statistical certainty by now, but found no consolation.
It’s a good thing that murder actually is a statistical anomaly, but still.
On the day we left Ottawa, our first stop was Melissa’s wake in Pembroke, which is somewhat on the way to Algonquin Park.
When we arrived, the media was camped out, waiting for that perfect moment to show on TV.
We went in, paid our respects, and prepared to leave. As we stepped outdoors, we ran into one of our friends who had just arrived from Ottawa.
Tracey and I caught on camera at Melissa’s wake in Pembroke.
The three of us hugged, discussed the breaking news (that her husband had been arrested), and could feel the cameras had zoomed in for their moment. Tracey even said “There, we’ve made the news.” Sure enough, we did.
As Tracey and I walked to the car – which was no doubt looked quite out of place, with the canoe, trailer and stuffed with camping gear (and Sprocket), a reporter from 1310 (an AM radio station in Ottawa) crossed the street and approached Tracey looking for a juicy, sorrowful soundbite, which she didn’t get.
As we drove away, I ranted quite extensively about my opinions of the media’s intrusion on the wake, and while I suppose her death was a news-worthy event due to it’s horrible nature, I think it was appropriate.
It’s been a bit over a month since the events detailed above, and it still bothers me. A few times a day, I still find myself considering what happened and trying to make sense of it.
I know my brain is wired differently than most people, and I’m fine with that, but it doesn’t help me understand how one spouse could harm or kill the other.
Speaking hypothetically, if Howard Richmond did do this (remember, he’s only been charged, not convicted, and in Canada, you’re still innocent until proven guilty), it makes absolutely no sense at all to me.
To me, your spouse is the person you love the most in the world – so why would anyone want to harm them, much less kill them? Yes, I’m leaving out the factor of children – I don’t have any, so I can’t speak to that.
Rationalizing suicide is easy. It’s your life, if you have thought it through and want to end it, that’s your choice – I can respect that. I can envision plenty of scenarios where one wouldn’t want to live beyond. We’ll see more thorough discussions about euthanasia as the population ages and decide it’s an option they want.
I can’t figure out how murdering the person you love the most in the world could in any conceivable way make your life better.
It just doesn’t compute.