When Sabrina Patterson didn’t stop by to pick up her two children for Halloween, her family knew something was definitely wrong.
It was Oct. 31, 2010, and none of the family had heard from Patterson in a couple of days. Every attempt to reach her came up empty.
“She was nowhere to be found,” Denise Murphy said of her sister.
Her sister had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with Fred Prosser. Murphy described it as an unhealthy relationship and dangerous. In fact the last time she had talked with her sister they had a huge fight about her getting back into a relationship with him.
Murphy couldn’t help but wonder if he was responsible for her disappearance. On Nov. 1 it was discovered that he too was missing. Nov. 4 he was found in his parents’ home.
“I was praying for any outcome other than the one that was weighing on my heart,” Murphy said. But when Prosser was found her fears only worsened.
She and others began searching for Patterson. On Nov. 6 while searching property a few kilometres away from Prosser’s home, a man located Patterson’s body wrapped in garbage bags in a wooded area near Shaw Road. Murphy was not far away, but is thankful she was spared the gruesome discovery.
Prosser would later be charged with first-degree murder and two counts of sexual assault.
Murphy spoke to students at Northumberland Regional High School on Wednesday on the anniversary of the death of 14 women at l' École Polytechnique de Montréal. The day is now known as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
She talked to the students about how domestic violence impacts not only the one in the relationship with the abuser but has a ripple effect. She still struggles with fears and post-traumatic stress as a result of her sister’s death.
Murphy also talked about how abuse can take different forms. She said a few years after Patterson’s death she found herself in an emotionally abusive relationship.
“It can happen to anyone,” she said.
She has turned the loss into motivation though and she and her family have helped raise thousands of dollars to help women who are victims of domestic violence, in honour of Patterson.
“I as well as friends and family consider it our personal mission to keep Sabrina’s memory alive, to be her voice and to keep her from simply becoming a statistic,” Murphy said. “She wouldn’t want that.”