Family members of the murder victims, Melody Lee-Perry and Jerica Bouchard, had their opportunity to speak during the proceedings of Edward John Chomiak’s trial in Peace River on Aug. 11.
Some chose to read their statements aloud, while others declined. Madame Justice M.T. Moreau read the latter ones to herself and then entered them into evidence.
Prior to the readings, the judge, Crown prosecutor and defence counsel had to determine the admissibility of some of the victim impact statements and one was excluded.
Presented here are most of victim impact statements. Some are not being published due to privacy concerns.
August 8, 2016
I’ve entered a constant state of depression. It’s all I can think about. My heart is shattered. I will never be the same again. My daughter has been stolen from me. My granddaughter has been stolen from me. I miss them so much, there are no words for me to describe it. It breaks my heart to know I will never get the chance to talk to them, laugh with them or hug them.
This wound is so deep, it will never heal.
The physical impact of losing my daughter and granddaughter is taking a tremendous toll on me. I still cannot sleep to this day. I find it difficult to eat some days. Sometimes I have to stop my task at hand because I get so choked up, I cannot focus.
I have travelled from Prince George to Peace River numerous times for every court appointment. My travel expenses have become a burden on me.
I’m now afraid for my life, as well as the lives of everyone close to me. I constantly fear for the safety and well-being of my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends and myself
August 10, 2016
The financial burden of attending these court proceedings has been significant. I live in Prince George, B.C. and work full-time. The cost of travel and hotel rooms (has) been a financial burden for my husband and I.
Over the past (five years and eight months), I had to miss work and have lost days, which affect my seniority, which in turn affects my pension. The times when winter travel was necessary to attend court, it was stressful and the road conditions were often dangerous.
The ongoing emotional pain affects me every day. I have been under medical care for high blood pressure and heart medication for increased heart rate. The stress has caused the painful breakout of shingles and migraines.
Since the death of Melody and Jerica, I have had to take sleeping pills and medication to relax. I constantly think about the terror Melody and Jerica went through. My relationship suffers, as I have a hard time focusing on anything else.
I am very fearful that if the offender ever gets free, he will come after my family. I have adult children and grandchildren and I constantly worry about their safety.
August 10, 2016
I have so much pain, it truly makes every day a living hell. I am on medication … I cannot get over her death. I fear for the safety of myself and my family in the future, concerning this matter.
The cost of getting justice for you, Melody and Jerica, has been high. The waiting for your day in court (was) long and hard, up and down. Your hurts and fears are settled. Now, ours just begins, the long road of healing.
I miss your smile. I miss your haircut. I loved the new you. You were just starting to spread your wings. I did receive your gift through the higher powers.
The quilting – we were going to make many years of quilting and playing with our grandchildren, will be missed forever. I would like to thank Claude for making Melody the happiest she had ever been. Your children were a true joy to her.
One good lady and one young girl (are) with us no more. But will be forever loved and forever missed. The hurt is unbearable at times.
July 10, 2016
This nightmare’s a goddam constant loop – Around and around – that everyone seems to have forgotten.
That things are supposed to change. Progression and moving on. And that little thought is enough to make me weep with the most sarcastic laughter you’ve ever heard.
The psychological impacts that this case has caused me are so far reaching and, after nearly six years, so deeply rooted that I often feel less like a whole person, and more like a collection of traumas.
I was 20 years old when this happened, barely an adult. My entire adult identity has been so overrun with the details of what I saw that day and the additional trauma of a very drawn out court case.
In the last six years, I have experienced too many emotions to recount with regards to this matter. I have felt the alienation of knowing looks, sickly sweet sympathies, patronizing chit-chats and nosey questions from strangers in this small town.
The first time I left my house after that day, two friends took me out for lunch and I had to listen to some misinformed individuals at the next table talking about the case and the girl who “hid under bed.” That’s just a small taste of the alienation I’ve learned to live with because of what happened that day.
People talk about the fight or flight response and it seems like a really good instinct to help protect ourselves in an emergency. But ever since then, I have found myself (in) constant flight-mode. There’s no real way to describe the way it affects my life; that I have a tendency to panic when presented with a stressful situation now. This hyper-vigilant state is exhausting and is hardest to shake when I need to shake it most.
This “flight-mode” doesn’t just apply to negative stressors in my life, either. I have to tell people that I hate surprises now, after a beautiful surprise party gave me so much anxiety that I didn’t enjoy myself the whole time. The unexpected will always terrify me because I’ve seen the worst of unexpected situations.
At 26 years old, I have lost one-fifth of my life to the effects of this tragedy. The first two years were the worst. I had a bad case of survivor’s guilt, something that still floats around in my brain.
Things got a little self-destructive for a while; the saying “you only live once” took on a certain reckless meaning to me. I had to fight tooth and nail to repair my life after the figurative smoke cleared from the initial trauma, and I realized how lucky I was to have my life at all.
The kind of hopelessness that I’ve experienced over the years – the mantra of ‘This is my life now’ – that kept coming to mind through all of the false starts and delays in this trial is something that I don’t think will ever fully heal.
The nightmares are indescribable. Imagine reliving the worst day of your life, or waking and suddenly remembering small portions or sections of a gory image that your mind had been blocking out for three years.
Along the hard road from that day until today, I have had numerous embarrassing breakdowns in public. Whether it was just a bad day of feeling depressed, the horrible fog left around me from a nightmare the night before, or a phone call to inform me that court was put off again – there has always been ample amounts of nonsense to heavily distract me from my “real” life.
I once had to explain to a brand new manager on his first day, that I had to leave work after getting an upsetting voice mail about court being further delayed on my break.
This delay would mean court would no longer be over by the time I was scheduled to start the post-secondary education that I’d been putting off because of court.
I was devastated. I felt trapped, victimized and angry. My new boss was a complete stranger, who was watching me shake, sputter and sob while trying to condense the most complex and debilitating situation into an explanation of why I needed to leave work for the afternoon. I was so horrified and embarrassed after that day, that I never went back to that job.
When I called to tell them I wasn’t coming back, some co-worker answered and launched into a terribly executed diatribe on how I needed to “be strong.” People over-stepping like this, is so ridiculously common in my life, when it comes to this case, and there’s no way to explain the feelings I’m left with each time.
The level of paranoia, the ugly disfiguring scar of trauma, the varying degrees of existential terror that I have battled through, have changed me forever. There are things I have experienced that no one ever should, and there are things everyone should get to see that I never will.
I don’t get to know who my best friend would have grown up to become. I had a dream once, that she came up to me, looking very mid-twenties, and very beautiful and happy. I hate that she will never, ever get to be that woman I dreamed of.
Our whole circle of friends is getting older. I can’t look at a picture of Jer without seeing how young she was. That kind of grief never heals, it truly only worsens as the age difference grows from a crack to a gap to a canyon.
I have lived these last few years with a constant negativity over my head. I don’t even get to know where Jerica would be today, just like I don’t ever get to know where the Sara that had never experienced this would have been. Those questions never go away; the ache of “what if” never abates.
Tamara Pauline L’Abbé
April 30, 2012
I am an 11-year-old girl.
I have had a real hard time since this crime. This crime has affected me emotionally. After the incident, I could not sleep. I was scared, so for two weeks I had to sleep with my dad because of the nightmares.
I was afraid to wake up and have to walk across the house. I am afraid to be in my own home, where I grew up. This made me sad, scared and angry. Life for me is scarier now. I still have nightmares of these events and how it has affected my family.
Sometimes I wake up at 4:00 a.m. and scream inside myself because of the fear. I had to get professional mental help to deal with the loss, fear and constant worry.
I am afraid that something bad could happen to my family. The small noises scare me. I also still see the counsellor at my school as needed, to deal with grief and loss.
My question is, why did you do it?
August 10, 2016
I have sat there trying to write this many times.
The day has come to do it. The court has asked me how this crime has affected me and my family. At times angry, very angry, but then again I think of my sister, Melody, and niece, Jerica.
The sunshine of every family, the aunt of my grandchildren will never meet and get to know, the person who made you feel special every time you saw her.
Then anger sets in again. Then I think of the little things again, from the funny birthday cards to the hat nobody could wear but Mel, which she would always make look good.
The young lady, she was growing up to be.
We will never see her become an aunt or mother. There are many emotions I go through, from sadness to anger to frustration. How could any one person put this into a few words or sentences? I miss them every day. Angry, that their death is so meaningless.
Frustration, that the accused could take these beautiful lives and leave the families with such wounds to try to heal.
Melody was not just an aunt to my children and grandchildren, but a sister and friend that would be by your side no matter where or when.
I miss you, Mel and Jerica.
August 10, 2016
There are days that I’m at home or at work, that I’ll just start crying or I’ll hear a song that reminds me of them and I have to stop and take a few moments to pull myself together.
I miss them both, daily. It feels like there is a piece of me missing.
The stress of this ordeal has been tremendous.
. Tension pain in my neck, going into my shoulder.
. Tension in (my) lower back, causing my back to go out and there are times that it’s so painful, I can hardly walk.
. At times, not sleeping – just lying there, worrying about what’s going to happen next.
The financial impact of the prolonged proceedings has been astronomical on me. I have to take numerous days off work to make it to all court appearances. Travel expenses (have) proven to be very expensive.
I fear if the offender gets out, he will come after me and other members of our family. I have six grandbabies that I worry about constantly.
It happened to my sister and niece. Who’s to say it cannot happen to any one of us?
August 8, 2016
It’s been five and a half years and I can still hear her laugh.
When I was 20 years old, I lived and loved with a beautiful, naïve passion, bursting at the seams with a vision of years ahead of me.
December 15, 2010 was the day someone chose to not only end (one life), not only two lives, but to permanently reshape my life and my innocence.
I struggle to write this, as I still can’t understand. It is also difficult to categorize the impact into specific areas outlined by this form.
I am now 26 years old. I am a strong young woman.
However, I have struggled with (undiagnosed) depression and unquantifiable heartache since the murders.
Part of that pain is the fact that I will never get to experience Jerica as a strong 26-year-old woman. I do not have the opportunity to share any of my accomplishments or hurdles with her. I have been robbed.
My relationship with the surviving witness, Sara Schapansky, has also been affected. The bond I have always shared with Sara, I cannot represent in words.
Since December 15, 2010, I have feared for Sara’s safety. I have also feared for her with regards to her emotional and mental security after what she has experienced. I have wanted to protect and shield her from any sort of harm. I have over-compensated at times and the extent of my need to protect her has been frustrating and, at times, driven us apart. But I can’t lose her. I can’t lose her like I lost Jerica.
I catch myself being over-protective and I am able to identify that it is because of the events that took place December 15, 2010. I am worried what may happen to Sara if the offender were to not be in custody.
With regards to my safety, my doors are now always locked. It is clear that you never know what people are capable of. I have not missed a trial date, even when I moved away to several distant locations. I realize how vulnerable I am and how hurt I am.
When I have to explain to my employer why I need time off, to my landlord why my rent payments are late (due to time off and travel costs), why I miss my family functions, to new friends why I can’t attend functions.
Five years ago, unhealthy avenues of distraction and numbing were my solution.
[Certain information has been excluded here, due to privacy concerns.]
There is a particular song that played at Jerica’s funeral which always leaves me in tears.
I cannot control my emotions in this moment and always remove myself from the situation. My physical response is controlled by the pain I carry.
I apologize that my victim impact statement may not be as “point form” as the court expects.
Life is not point form and I have probably forgotten things to mention. I’ve forgotten because it is now a part of me and always will be, making it hard to differentiate after all these years.
With the trial finally coming to an end, I find myself facing emotions that I wasn’t aware I have been harbouring. I shared a beautiful, innocent part of my life with Jerica (and Sara). She meant something to me and to hear her referred to as an “exhibit” fills me with rage and sorrow that this is what she has become. Someone made a choice for her.
To conclude, this is my victim impact statement. Someone chose to reshape my life, without my consent. I am angry, I am broken and have been robbed of the vibrant 20-year-old I was and the life I would have shared with Jerica Bouchard.
The magnitude of the impact this has had on my life encompasses so many aspects of my life, it is incomprehensible.
I wish you could hear her laugh.
The leaves are green and the air is cool
Traffic is humming
The sun is setting
It’s a perfect evening
But I am not here
And neither are you.
The train whistle is blowing in the distance
A breeze runs its fingers through my hair
The river is calm
The day is coming to a close
But I am not here
And neither are you.
My cigarette burns bright in the fading light
Smoke billows from my lips and out of view
Looking across the valley
What a peaceful place
But I am not here
And neither are you.
Laughing to myself about moments gone by
About what we shared and who we were
The tears silently fall
As I raise my hand to my chest
Because I am right here
And so are you.