After every death whether a natural death, an accidental death or a homicide or suicide questions always come up. The questions sometimes come up when looking through the loved ones effects and wondering why they saved this, who is in that photo or why they were seen somewhere or what they were doing? Did they know how much they were loved? Questions all the more poignant because the family no longer has the opportunity to ask the loved one.

After a violent death those questions get larger and more important. Some common questions: why, who, why didn’t I somehow know, was there anything at all I could have done, why did this happen to them, was there something I missed seeing? Did they suffer?

We all have private thoughts, private memories. Sometimes shared with a few, but sometimes not. Those thoughts and memories may hold the answers to some of those questions, but unless they were shared, the answers may not be known.

Usually it is the family and friends who are asking the questions. But sometimes it is also the community. That is the case with Robert Bystrack and his wife Angela.

Robert and Angela Bystrack moved into the community about 12 years ago. And after joining the community they jumped right in. They had a child together, she is now reported as being 11 years old. They became active in the community, Angela served on the zoning board for a time, Robert as an alternate on the planning board. Both had served on the planning board.

Robert was an electrician locally, Angela had worked as an animal control officer for a time as well as a part time police officer for a time. They belonged to a local snowmobile club. Their child went to school in the area and reportedly earned awards for citizenship and academics.

According to media they purchased a property about 4 years ago. And they had plans. The home was built in the 1800’s and they were busy restoring it. The property had about 200 acres, and there are reports that they had plans for an ecological preserve, a snowmobile site and/or a camping area. They stayed busy. They were well known and well liked. Many good things have been said about them.

On Feb. 15th about 7 am their 11 year old daughter showed up at a neighbors home, wounded. She reportedly told the neighbor

“My mommy shot my daddy, then she shot me, then she shot herself.”

911 was called and the child was taken to the hospital. For Angela and Robert Bystrack, it was too late. A later autopsy ruled that Robert Bystrack’s death was a homicide, Angela Bystrack’s death a suicide.

The child’s condition has been reported as satisfactory, she remains in the hospital. She is expected to fully recover.

Police are investigating but have not released their findings. At least one media reported they had done “extensive” background checks and did not make any findings that might lead to these events.   

Forensics, the crime scene and other investigative tools have already answered some of the questions. And police continue to investigate. They may come up with other answers, as people recover from the shock and have time to recall the minutiae of things said, things seen that seemed insignificant at the time. The child may be able to answer some questions, though she is recovering from her own injury and has to recover from the shock of what she saw.

But no matter how many questions they are able to answer, there will always be those questions that have no answers. And those questions that linger become one more thing that has to be accepted, just like having to accept the deaths. Some may be major questions, and always there are the small questions.

The child is 11 years old. She is injured but recovering. Hospitalized with family around her, but not her parents. When she turns 12, no parents will be baking her a cake or giving her presents. When she begins to date, her mother will not be there to help her dress for her first date, no father to check out the new boyfriends. When learns to drive, no parent will be there to guide her and ride with her. And no parent will be there to comfort her in her grief.

She is young, she will physically recover, she will grow, and she has family who want to love her. Her community has turned out to offer her their support. She will survive. But though she is young, she is old enough to remember the last sight she had of her father being shot, of her mother shooting her, and of her mother shooting herself. The long walk she made after being injured, to get to a neighbor to some adult, to get help. Those memories will fade in time, will even be forgotten at times. But at times they will resurface. She too will have her questions, both now and more questions as she grows and has more experience with life. 

A big thank you to  Zach for the tip on this.



  1. Paul Green said,

    February 22, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I knew and Loved Angie in a time before Alton, Robert and Cassie.
    She became a friend to all she met, to me she was like a safe harbor in the middle of a stormy sea. She cared, she trusted she laughed and loved.
    My regret, that I could not be the man I promised her I’d be.
    My heart aches for the family and friends of Angela and Robert.
    Cassie, please know that even the darkest of nights are followed by a new day. Rise early any morning you choose, step outside, and just as the sun takes its first peek above the horizon, you need only let out a deep sigh to feel the hand of your mom and dad upon your shoulders.
    Paul Green

  2. Cory said,

    February 22, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    I cannot even fathom what would make someone do something like this. The young girl did nothing wrong, but now has to grow up without parents, and those memories. I really hope, for the sake of the child, that more information comes out of this case. I know later in life she will want to know why things happened.

    I know that questions do have to be accepted. But they are the hardest and take the longest to be accepted. They do linger long after you have come to terms with death and being without a loved one.

    I hope this girl grows up with some sort of resolution to her questions.

  3. Arkam said,

    February 23, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    My comment goes to all readers. I don’t know this family, even I don’t know anyone regarding this tragedy. I wish the best to this child and I feel sadness for the past she endured but also know that she will be nurtured, guided and protected by her father spirit. My intention here is to shed some light in what a decision is from a personal experience.

    Two years ago my wife confessed an affair and then she tried to set me up with the man who took her heart and mind off from what I belived was a sacred relationship, since I placed on that level. We not only loved each others bodies, minds and eveything in between, or so I made myself to believe. We loved God also and we tried to keep our faith and bring up our two children to be good people.

    Then, two months after she had started her career as a professional, in her own words she fell prey for the hits of her coworker. After ten days of her confession, I got arrested and charged by assault and the next day I am being interrogated by the ATF acussed of terrorism. Of course, they couldn’t charged me because there was not such person, neither anything that lead them to prosecute me. I bailed out and charges dropped after three months. A year later I was told by an ex-neighbor that our house was ransacked by as many a five government agencies, that it looked like all the feds agencies were in the block and they had found some of the worst criminals. Red and blue lights, vans, cruisers, guns were all over on the neighborhood the whole day.

    Why I am writing this here? I had a choice to take revenge on the abusers and punish the betrayal, but I am not a punisher, nor I have the right to do so even if I had the meanings and opportunities to follow similar actions this ex-cop lady did. I choose not to such display of selfishness and deceit against myself and the rest of the world. Any person that is confronted to such agravation and hulilliation would consider any type of payback, would a police profiler would expect to ocurr. What I expect is that such punisment served by Life itself becaue man’s justice is absurd and uneven, and God’s justice goes to the right measure, according to the thoughts, feelings and deeds involved by all those whom have been part of it.

    The major deterrent in my case was that I love God an my children very much and I saw all what you all have wrote here. I saw them abandoned and left in the hands of awful people, a saw alone children who did not have any part whatsoever in the sinful actions of others.

    My decision is and wil be that what happened to me was what I brought to myself and what they did they will have to live with and one day scorn will enfold upon their lives. I keep my conscience focused on the positive side and my strenght come from my faith in that God is Life and as such everyone alive is God’s manifestation and we must revere that Presence. God resides in our hearts and is upon us to find Him there and accept His Divine Presence.

    To complete my learning experiene, I have temporary lost the custody of my children, and even with supervised visitations, their mother still have been able to separated us by brainwashing them so when they see me they scream in terror. All this, because she is able to pay the best lawyer in town and my lawyer is a lousy thieve, just like a poker machine on a truckstop, all he want is my money. He have lost three times.

    I want to raise the awareness here, that if you expect justice in the US you must buy it at a high price, there is not such thing as you being right or wrong, innocent or guilty. Cash is king and to many is the god money they revere. The american justice system is one fake comedy, a parody of justice, a travesty, where the only motive for those proceedings are to cover for the rich and to opress the poor.

    I keep my hopes high, I am strong within me, my faith, my personal experience. Perhaps when my children grow up and find my writings and know who their father was and what decision he made, they will feel proud of me. Then I will be in their hearts on the times of their lives when they will be confronted with taking the right decision and knowin that “Life is Good” and We all are God’s creation.

  4. JC said,

    February 26, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    That house was known as the haunted house of Alton, it had been abandoned for a long long time.

    Read on:

    Not sure if they bought the house off the town or not….
    but I think someone should do a paranormal investigation…..and a cleansing of the place.
    It needs to be taken care of and not forgotten.

  5. kate bystrack said,

    June 29, 2008 at 4:44 am

    I knew this family well, as many of you dont. this is my family, cassie is my cousin and robert was my uncle. i found this out as i was stepping into the car for vacation and my father, roberts brother, found out while on vacation in florida. we all thought dad was kidding when he told us. but our world got flipped upside down. cassie is so beautiful, even with the emotional scars she will always carry, we are here to stick by her side as her life goes on. no body can explain why angela would tear my family apart, but there is no taking it back now. i cry often, and look back at the good times also. but no matter what the bystrack family will never be the same. it’s been very hard. i miss my uncle, alot. i carry his pictures with me in my wallet, car, ect. as many others do in this small family. it’s nice to see people really feel for us. it’s been a long road, things are finally getting a little better to cope with, but this event will affect us for our lives.

    all i can pray for is that my uncle is up in heaven watching over us everyday, knowing we will always love and miss him. and everytime one of us feels pain or feels lonely, we know he is right there with us, being the glue that will hold us each together.

    thank you for all that care.

    rip uncle rob, gone but never forgotten.
    we love you.


  6. Paul Green said,

    June 30, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    To KATIE
    I hope that you will take the time to write back to me. My heart aches for your loss and that of Cassie and your family.
    I’m not a religious person but I have prayed for you all to grow strong and someday be free fo the terrible hurt that you must carry inside.
    My first post is # 1 above.
    I understand what personal loss and tragedy are all about, I know the fear, the anger. the confusion as you try to come up with an explanation for a horrible situation that defies your ability to even understand it.
    Katie, when you get time, and feel up to it, please write me.

  7. Paul Green said,

    June 30, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    You have a friend, more like a lost uncle you never knew down here in Connecticut. I never had the pleasure of meeting your dad, but I knew your mon very well. If you ever want to see another part of her life, where she lived, how she laughed and where she liked to go, see the simple things that made her smile, then come and visit me.
    I hope that some day we can meet and maybe I’ll get to see you smile too.
    Paul Green

  8. Margaret said,

    August 18, 2008 at 5:12 am


  9. Julie said,

    October 9, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    to Paul Green – please do not contact my daughter (Katie). I know who you are, and the fact that you are Angelas ex husband does not make you an expert on any thing except perhaps your own failed marriage (one I attended in fact). consider youself lucky she didn’t do this to you. Angela obviously had issues – you should know that as well as anyone Paul. I certainly did. Our family grieves for Rob and for Cassie. No one has the right to do what Angela obviously felt she had the right to do. Maybe you want to memorialize and even idolize your memories of angela – please don’t push that onto my family. I’m honestly sick of seeing your words of praise for your precious angela – she wasn’t yours and she certainly wasn’t precious. she stole the life of a good man. she stole love and memories for her daughter, even if she meant to also steal her daughters life. she was a coward plain and simple. Stop making yourself out to be someone you aren’t. thanks

  10. Paul said,

    January 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I only just now read your note, I am truely sorry for the heart ache and loss that Angela caused you and your family. Cassie remains in my thoughts and prayers, I’ll write no more, here or to Katie. I’m sorry.

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