KELOWNA - Matthew Foerster told investigators in a taped interview he spoke to Taylor Van Diest for a few minutes before choking her with a shoelace, hitting her with a flashlight and tossing the evidence in a dumpster.
On the sixth day of 28-year-old Matthew Foerster’s first degree murder trial in Kelowna Supreme Court, the remainder of a video taken in April 2012 at the Kelowna RCMP detachment was shown to a jury of five women and seven men, as well as over two dozen friends and family of 18-year-old Van Diest.
During the portion of the video shown today, Foerster heard a taped message from his mother, and was visited in person by his half brother. The siblings shared a long embrace while Foerster wept.
Earlier in the video, Foerster admitted to killing Van Diest and feeling bad for it. He was, for the most part, quiet and uncommunicative in the video, but with his brother in the room, he opened up about Halloween night 2011.
“I approached her, I talked to her for a few minutes.... I pushed her down and I just told her to keep quiet and she wouldn’t listen. I freaked out and I took off. I was scared when I realized what I’d done. I shouldn’t have never been there. I felt terrible for how everything worked out since then... if I could, I’d take it all back,” Foerster said.
Sgt. Mark Davidson asked if he followed Van Diest from her house, but Foerster said he just “came across her” and followed her onto the railroad tracks where he used a shoelace to choke her. Davidson wanted to know when exactly Foerster choked her.
“That’s how you tried to control her when you came up behind?” Davidson said.
Foerster said he couldn’t remember. His brother encouraged him to tell the truth.
“If you keep doing the things you’re doing, you can’t control this anymore man, you’re going to hurt more girls, you know. More daughters out there...” his brother, a father himself, said.
Davidson put it to Foerster that he “went for sex, and that if she hadn’t fought you, you wouldn’t have killed her, right?” Foerster replied yes.
He admitted he hit Van Diest multiple times with a flashlight and sustained scratches to his neck during the struggle. He said he dumped the shoelace, flashlight and the coat he was wearing in a dumpster.
“I feel like I’m a good person, I just messed up,” Foerster said. “I just wanted to keep her quiet, I didn’t want it to happen like this.”
Monday afternoon, court heard from Van Diest’s boyfriend at the time, Colton Luttmerding. They’d been dating on and off for over a year. Luttmerding said he and Van Diest would text each other around 50-100 times throughout the day. At 6:01 p.m. Van Diest texted she was “being crepped” which Luttmerding understood to mean she was being creeped. She’d used the phrase before when guys were checking her out or “looking at her in a perceived sexual way,” Luttmerding said. He asked for more information, but she never replied.
That’s when he and two of Van Diest’s friends started looking for her, driving around town along the route she would have walked to meet them. When there was no sign of her, they went to her house. Eventually, they got a call that Van Diest’s phone had been found on the railway tracks near the old cheese factory. Luttmerding searched in the bushes along the railway tracks, eventually locating his girlfriend. He couldn’t see her face because she was on her stomach, so he pushed her over to see if it was really her.
The next Crown witness was another of Van Diest’s friends, Zoe Unreh. They had been texting and writing to each other over Facebook during the day, finalizing their plans to go trick-or-treating. Unreh’s understanding was they were to meet at Van Diest’s house, but when she arrived, Van Diest had already left. Two calls to her went unanswered. Unreh met up with Luttmerding and Clay Valstar, whose testimony was heard last week, and the three went looking around town for her.
Unreh didn’t have a cell phone. She used her iPod to send messages over Facebook and through a text message application, but only when she had access to WiFi. When she returned home to see if Van Diest had gone there, a message came in. Van Diest wanted to know which way Unreh had gone. The two friends didn’t live far from each other, about a 20 minute walk.
Eventually, Unreh found herself searching along the train tracks where Van Diest’s phone had been found. She broke down in tears when Crown counsel Iain Currie asked her to describe the moment she found Van Diest’s body.
“She was lying face down, she was having trouble breathing, she was kind of mumbling incoherently,” Unreh said.
Everyone placed their jackets over Van Diest. Unreh recalled a police officer pulled something that looked like a bottle out of his jacket and tossed it into the bushes before laying it over Van Diest.
The Crown will call two more witnesses and is expected to wrap up its case Tuesday.
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—This story was edited at 4:15 p.m. to add details from the afternoon court session, including testimony from Colton Luttmerding and Zoe Unreh.
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