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Saturday, October 17, 2015

A grisly discovery shatters the peace and quiet of the farm

We own a mile of Kemptville Creek. The shallow waterway runs along the edge of our 200-acre property along County Road 18 east of Bishops Mills. If you paddle your canoe up to our property line, you can see the bridge over the creek at County Road 20. This is where the body of a young man was found last week. That, as they say, is a little too close for comfort.
I first learned of the discovery through a friend who met the police roadblock on his way home. I went and spoke to the officer on site, who could obviously tell me nothing, except to say there was no risk to public safety. Neighbours closer to the site said they had heard there was a homicide on the bridge. Another friend posted a message online saying a local resident had found a body.
I wondered how the police could say we were safe in our homes that night. How could they know? Did they have the person responsible in custody? No, they did not. For the next two nights I awoke every time the wind moved a tree branch, causing the outdoor sensor light to flash on, and off. My migraine headache induced by too much indulgence on Thanksgiving flared and lasted all week long.
In our secluded location, on a bend in a single-lane dirt road, we often see dumpings of garbage and even hunting carcasses: geese, fish, even a bear. It’s upsetting to think that the beautiful farmland, forests and roadways we call home are considered a place to drop unwanted trash to others. Now someone has turned our peaceful rural landscape into a crime scene. Yellow police tape flutters in the wind where it stretches around the site from tree to tree, blocking vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Crime scene investigators and forensics specialists are on the scene for days after the discovery, taking samples, photographs, and video. Documenting the scene where one young man’s story came to an abrupt end.
On Friday, police revealed preliminary autopsy reports. They had an unidentified deceased male and the cause of death was not obvious. Further testing would have to be done. The description of his attire and grooming was a bit more city than country in my first impression. Maybe he was brought here from Toronto, or Montreal. He had the name of a hardcore band on his t-shirt, “BANE”. They played Montreal last summer. If there was no sign of injury, did he die from drug overdose? Heart attack? The police say the body was in good shape, so it wasn’t in the water long. Tips have been flowing in from the public. Vehicles have been spotted near the site in recent weeks – but they often are. There is a parking area and a groomed path down to the water where people launch kayaks or canoes, or send their dogs in to fetch sticks on a hot day.
Hopefully by the time this column goes to print, the dead man will have been identified. It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t have anyone looking for him. With today’s rapid network of communications between policing partners in Canada and the US, surely they will have him identified soon.
I’ve spent far too much time over the past few days, wondering who he is, what happened to him and who the people are who can fill in the missing links to the story. Like a self-diagnosing sick person, I am online doing research and investigation, looking for clues.
The police said one thing during the press conference that caught my attention. For the first time in my many conversations with police since this case began, when asked if there was any danger to public safety, she didn’t say no. She said they were treating the case as a suspicious death, and we should exercise personal safety. I went home and made sure all windows were locked as well as the doors.
Then I sat and watched the sun go down over the creek, the cows grazing in the foreground, black silhouettes in the twilight. The air was filled with the song of geese flying in, following the line of the water, their favourite place to stop for the night.


June ♥ JA said...

Definitely too close to home.

TamiraK Ranch said...

Diane I feel your conerns as well. As a resident of the area, athough a little farther removed from your location, we have had a tale of our own to tell about 5 years ago when we caught someone breaking into our shed apparently looking for fuel. Hubby took chase and police were called. Long story short it dosen't happen often but when it does it is scary. Better safe than sorry, we now lock our doors, and thankfully our dogs are always on alert.

MillieD said...

Things like this happen. We were no safer before than we are after. If you didn't lock your doors before, it may make you feel safer and calmer to lock them for a while now, but it changes nothing. The notion that "bad things" happen "out there" to "those people" is false thinking. Two summers ago in Toronto, a woman overdosed and died and her "friends" rolled her body up in a rug and left it behind a building to be found by someone walking their dog. That was two blocks from my house. Pretty similar situations, yes? As someone who grew up on County Rd 18 and played along the creek where that young man's body was found, I can say that the "peace and quiet" of that area is partially an illusion created by distance and space between neighbours and the luxury that affords us to neither see nor hear things we would rather not. Mental illness, addiction and criminality are certainly as present and problematic in rural areas as they are in big cities like Toronto (e.g. a lot of biker gang members live and operate rurally), they are often just not as in your face, more secluded, and easier to ignore. Most violent crimes are not random - this was assuredly was not - and so it benefits no one to use it to question our safety. We need to continue to reach out to our neighbours, claim the streets of our communities, and hold onto the normalcy of our everyday lives, because safety is always an unknown and we would do better to live happily.

Sara1025 said...

You have the grandma attitude down, Diana! Congratulations! Boy howdy, are you going to have fun! Nice blog. I look forward to following you. You do know you're going to have to buy a fence to go around your wood stove, don't you? One Step Ahead has the best, metal with a gate. High quality and won't break the bank. I have one, as does my daughter and hubs, who have 6, 3, and 2 year old boys, and they're in their 40s! One Step Ahead has the best safety products for babies and kids out there. Okay, enough advice from Nanny!