Who was Tim Bosma? His friends remember
'One or two people in this world know why. And I don’t think they’ll ever tell us:' Mike Vanhouten
As week four gets underway at the trial into Tim Bosma's killing, the Crown is expected to continue its slow build against the co-accused, presenting more forensic evidence in painstaking detail. The court case, at times has become so graphic, some may be tempted to simply tune out of the news coverage.
Bosma's loved ones don't have that luxury.
CBC recently met with two of his best friends, Mike Vanhouten and Krista Dam-VandeKuyt.
They are part of the Bosma's close-knit network committed to filling the front rows of courtroom 600, at Hamilton's John Sopinka Courthouse, a cocoon of sorts surrounding Bosma's wife, Sharlene and parents, Hank and Mary.
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"I'm sure Hank and Mary and Sharlene don't want to be there," said Vanhouten, shrugging. "He would've done that for us. I just think, 'what would Tim do?' He was always there for his friends."
That unwavering support, though, comes with a cost. Every detail presented in court, no matter how minute, triggers a memory and it all comes rushing back.
I remember praying in a big circle, praying for Tim to be returned. I remember Hank, the sorrow in his voice, just wanting Tim to come home.- Mike Vanhouten, friend
"That week, I can't explain. It was the most emotional week of our lives," said Dam-VandeKuyt.
So many of us now know the story by heart.
Bosma, 32, had posted his truck for sale online. On May 6, 2013, after tucking his daughter into bed, he left for a test drive with two men. Waving goodbye to his wife, he smiled and said he'd be right back. His remains would be found days later.
Vanhouten remembers the moment he realized Tim's disappearance wasn't some kind of joke or prank his friend was known for pulling.
Vanhouten, a farmer, was up early May 7, getting his morning coffee from Tim Horton's when he saw it — a single police cruiser parked in the Bosma's long driveway in Ancaster.
He circled by several times before pulling in. Hank, he recalls, was on the phone, on the front steps. Then Sharlene came outside.
"She said, 'Mike you gotta call the boys,'' he remembered. "Within an hour, all of our friends were searching."
"We covered St. George to Burlington," he said. "Just driving every road to see if we noticed something odd."
What we now know is by then, Bosma was already dead. The Crown's theory — he was shot inside his truck, at close range. His body burned beyond recognition hours later, inside a piece of farm machinery.
"I remember praying in a big circle, praying for Tim to be returned. I remember Hank, the sorrow in his voice, just wanting Tim to come home," said Mike.
"Your mind goes in many places after that first week. Tim is presumed dead. They found an incinerator. And you're trying to piece together what happened."
The trial has, at the very least, help fill in some of the blanks.
But what so many still struggle with, and remains untouched at this point in the court case, is why.
"One or two people in this world know why. And I don't think they'll ever tell us," Vanhouten said. "I don't think we need to know why."
Faith and Forgiveness
Dam-VandeKuyt agrees. "There's always going to be questions. I don't think the court case will answer all of those," she said. "But we have the hope that we'll see him in Heaven and get those answers. But maybe then it won't matter, because we'll all be together."
An unshakeable faith runs deep though Ancaster. In many ways, it was the glue that kept the community searching that spring.
Signs of their effort are still everywhere. Though faded, Bosma's image shines through on Missing Persons posters, plastered on lampposts and road sides.
"How does anyone get through this? You can't get through it on your own," said the family's pastor Rita Klein-Geltink. "You need to draw on something bigger. You have to draw up on God."
The Ancaster Christian Reformed Church now holds daily virtual prayer sessions at 10 a.m. sharp to coincide with court proceedings. It was Sharlene's idea.
While forgiveness is at the very core of their beliefs, Klein-Geltink says it can only come with time.
"Will there ever be justice in this? Of course not," she said. "Tim is not coming back. A little girl has lost her daddy. Sharlene has lost her husband. There will never be justice. We trust there will be a greater respect for human life. And the dignity that was Tim's life."
Keeping Tim's Memory Alive
Krista and Mike laugh as they look through a bright blue photo album, filled with pictures from their university days.
In almost every group shot, there's Tim, skinny as ever with a big smile, mugging for the camera.
Holding onto those memories and sharing stories about their goofy friend, helps get them through the long, tough days in court.
"It's hard, but then you remember, Tim was here. He was our friend. You remember him laughing, playing with his daughter," said Vanhouten. "He wasn't up on those slides… He's in our hearts and in our minds."
There will be new memories, of course, ones without him.
Like camping this summer, a tradition started by their parents. Mike and Krista's children are the same age as Tim's daughter.
While he won't be there, his friends honour him everyday as best they can.
By living the way Tim did, with kindness and love.