Unsolved Murder, and the Long Road to Justice?
Can there be anything quite as agonizing, as an unsolved murder? Family, friends, and long time acquaintances of the victim, left to wonder “What happened?” “Who did this? “What is being done?” Presumably, police departments and major crimes investigators continue to work an active case. With nothing new to report, as the years come and go, grief gives way to frustration, hopelessness and then back to frustration again.
There is no swift march to justice, in the narrative of Todd Petries’ murder. Classified:Unsolved. There is a date, Feb.27th,2011. It marks the day, which has come and gone for four years. The anguish of this date is felt deeply a mother. Todd’s mother Joyce Petire. She carries on with her life, trying to find a way to live in an altered reality. A reality that began on a cold February day in Sault Ste.Marie,Ontario and continues into the present, with the unsolved murder of her son Todd Alan Petrie.
“Unsolved murders, have a way of going cold”, shared Joyce Petrie in a telephone interview from her winter retreat,Florida,U.S.A,March4,2015. “And I can’t let that happen. I have to keep being the thorn in the side of the police”. she said. Joyce Petrie does not want the role of pushing police to keep digging away at solving her son’s murder. Finding a way to manoeuvre through this new normal is exhausting. It’s a role, nobody would choose for themselves. This thing called justice, begins to define the days,months,and years ahead, as the outcome is awaited. The resolution.
“Todd was born in Hamilton,Ontario. All of my relatives are in London, and Aylmer,Ontario.” shared Joyce Petrie. “We moved to Saginaw Michigan in 1969 when the boys were 2 and 3 yrs old. Todd grew up in Michigan. He worked in the family business, J.M.Petrie Acoustical in Saginaw. Todd’s brother passed away last year from cancer” shared Joyce. Reflecting back in time she said “Todd always worked. He was a really good worker. At the age of 18, he enlisted in The Marines.” While serving in The United States Marine Corps, Todd saw active duty in The Philippines. “He was considered an expert marksman. Todd even won awards and taught to some degree, other sharp shooters coming up through the ranks (of The Marine Corps)”. He was very proud of that” shared Joyce. “We were all proud of Todd.”
Honourably discharged from the Marines, Todd stayed in the California area for a while, and then found his way to Canada. “I think the happiest time in his life was when he went to Algoma University. He introduced me to one of his professors there. Todd and I went to one of the local tea houses quite a bit, and shopped. He was doing so well at that time in his life, which was so nice.”
One of Todd Petries’ dear friends is Mary Gagnon. Mary lives in Sault Ste. Marie, and remembers a man who was bright,considerate, thoughtful, intelligent, and desperately trying to figure things out. Mary went on to share “I met Todd when I was walking my dog, Riley. Todd was dressed so nicely. He was a sharp dresser. Our friendship started that day. He would come with me to walk the dog quite often. When Todd and I would get together” shared Mary, “I got to see the best part of him” adding “He gave me the best he had to give. He helped me around the house, and was always offering to do work and upkeep on my house. We had a really wonderful friendship”.
Mary went on to say “We would talk and talk. We spent Christmas together before his death. When he came to my house, he would always call his mom. He loved his mom very much.” Mary further shared “This was his sanctuary. We had a lot of meals together here including Christmas dinner” adding “Todd would show me the books he was reading. He read law books, and was striving to get back to Algoma University. He wanted to study law.”
“While I was updating my house” said Mary, “Todd offered to help me with the painting and things like that. Todd cared about people”. Mary shared her hope “I want this solved so badly. This has been such an injustice.”
And from the act of friendship at Christmas time in December 2010, a memory springs forth for one mother “At Christmas time, Todd was so happy.” Joyce Petrie shared. She spoke to her son, sounding full of vim, vigour and gratitude. A son hoping to break free from the chaos he witnessed and lived with at 142 Albert St. East, Sault Ste. Marie,Ontario.
There are sinister bits wrapped up in stories, shared locally, that include the address,142 Albert St. E.,Sault Ste. Marie,Ontario. The address of Todd Petries’ murder. A computer search of the address will bring up a number of sites,names, dates, charges laid. It would seem that the beat goes on, at 142 Albert St.E.
A car accident left Todd Petrie with serious injuries, and complicated his abilities to earn a steady income. He was receiving support payments for a disability at the time of his death.
“Why was Todd not afforded the opportunity to move when he had been requesting this for a while?” Joyce Petrie is aware of steps her son was trying to take to remove himself from 142 Albert St.E. Terms of support payments he was receiving “apparently would not allow him to move.” said Joyce. “I’ve written letters to them, asking them why they didn’t let Todd move.” and “I get nowhere. I get nothing back.” (correspondence) “When Todd called me he would tell me over and over again how much he wanted to get out of that apartment .. it wasn’t a good place”.
Joyce Petrie acknowledges that much of her ongoing commitment to champion justice for her son is stored in files and paperwork in Saginaw, Michigan. “When I get back to Saginaw, I can go through the paperwork again”. Exact titles and agencies aside, she said “So much violence and crime has happened in that place”(142 Albert St.E.) “I’ve hit so many walls at this point. Todd was afraid and wanted to move out of the apartment.” adding “Somebody has to have the answers from within that web of people (who were) coming and going from the house. Todd wanted to move very badly in the months and days before he died”.
Todd Alan Petrie was a son, a friend, a brother, a father. He was much more than what defined the last few months or years of his life. Living in a house converted to apartments where the tracks leading to and from are imprinted with crime and wanton violence.
Until the murder of her son is solved, Joyce Petrie will continue to champion for justice. Justice for Todd, Justice for a Mother, Justice for a community that could very well need protecting from the same person or persons that murdered her son. A man who was buried with honour, in the country he served with distinction. A United States Marine. The few. The proud. ‘Semper Fidelis’
Todd Petrie is interred at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Michigan, United States Department of Veterans Affairs.