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.