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The tragic murder of Jessica Koopmans
Anthony Gallup, 32, has been convicted of the murder of Jessica Koopmans.
Sad life of Jessica Koopmans
I had the pleasure of knowing this little girl personally. She was funny and happy. Her father loved her more than anything. Jessica's parents split up after she was born and her life took a turn for the worst.
The search for Jessica
I remember when they announced the search for this little girl. So many people were out looking for this child. It was amazing to see such a small community come together to try and find this little girl as quickly as possible.
No one ever imagined it would be a family friend who had abducted and murdered this little girl.
I remember the rumors flying around town about Jessica's mother not being a part of the search. Apparently she was out in the bars drowning her sorrows.
When the trial started I was very angry that the mother was not charged for neglect. This little girl spent many a day roaming the neighborhood being fed by strangers. I knew many of those strangers who took care of this little girl when she was locked out of the house.
I don't know what the reason was for Gallop to take and murder this child, but I do know there should have been an investigation into the mother. The father was very angry for many years. I don't know if he has ever forgiven the mother, but if it were me I don't think I could find it in my heart to forgive.
Jessica disappeared from outside her Lethbridge home around dinner time May 4, 2001. A massive ground, water and air search was conducted around the community, about 200 kilometres southeast of Calgary. But it was a woman walking along a country road about 50 kilometres away from Lethbridge who discovered Jessica's naked body on a brush pile in a farmer's field. Court heard she had been smothered to death.
About a week after she was found, Mr. Gallup was charged in Jessica's disappearance and death.
Judge Martin asked Mr. Gallup, who did not testify during the five-week trial, to stand and asked whether he would like to speak.
The 32-year-old shook his head. "Nah, I have nothing to say."
Judge Martin passed the mandatory term of life in prison without the chance for parole for 25 years, describing it as "a fit sentence for such a terrible crime."
As he ordered the guards to take the prisoner away, Mr. Gallup's father, Hal Gallup, sighed and his eyes glossed as he fought back tears. As he walked away from the courthouse one woman yelled: "Your son's going to hell."
Outside the courtroom, Jessica's grandfather, Tony Bouw, shrugged and said "Well, he got his." Jessica's father, Darren Koopmans, and his wife, Laurie, avoided a throng of reporters. Since Jessica vanished, they have kept to themselves.
Ms. Bouw said that although justice has been done, it is not going to bring her daughter home.
"I'll never get to see her go to school or graduate or get married or any of that. That's something I can never ever get back, and he chose to take that away from me."
After taking 40 minutes to read his 13-page verdict, Judge Martin said he considered victim-impact statements from her family, but would not let them be read aloud.
During his ruling, Judge Martin cited several "highly incriminating" pieces of evidence against Mr. Gallup. There was his tearful jailhouse confession to friend Jason Craigie. There were his spontaneous utterances about being a "killer" and "murderer" to hospital security guards. There were also admissions to psychologist Alicia Hinger of pedophilic impulses, regret, self-loathing, the expectation of death in prison and a desire to have his ashes spread over a sewage pond.
Why didnt someone step in before this tragidy happened?
Jessica lived on the north side of Lethbridge. It was a harsh neighborhood. Her mother tries to justify her negligence by saying that Jessica only walked a few steps to a friends home. She was only 5 years old. Her mother knew the neighborhood, and she knew how dangerous it was. Her mother also knew that Gallop was known for drugs and he was not the best company to have kept when you have small children.
Gallop did murder Jessica, but it was a murder that could have been prevented. Its always easy to say I should have or I could have after something horrible happens, but I wanted to speak out about what I knew about the case.
Jessica had another sibling. I hope and pray that Jessica's mother learned something from all of this.
Some might find it cruel of me to speak out against the mother of this child, but I feel that it should have been said years ago.
This mother did suffer a loss no mother should ever have to suffer, but she should also be held accountable for her own negligence as a parent. Many people spoke out against the mother, but there was nobody there to speak for Jessica and the harsh life she lived before she died.
Daddy's little girl
Prayers go out to Jessica and her family. She really was daddy's little girl