THE woman who found the naked body of Claremont serial killings victim Jane Rimmer wept in court this week while recounting the horrifying discovery.
I cannot know what it is like to find a dead body. To happen upon it as I jog through bushland or walk my dog in the park. Lost in thoughts of Saturday night plans, or what to buy Dad for Christmas.
Perhaps I’m listening to music or a true crime podcast. I cannot know what it is like to find a dead body; but I can imagine.
Tammy Van Raalte-Evans was picking death lilies in scrub on the side of a road when she found Jane Rimmer in 1996.
Her children weren’t far away; they had gotten out of the car with their dad to chase a stray rooster down the road.
Ms Van Raalte-Evans remained in her seat but then noticed the lilies and got out. Amongst flowers and twigs she saw the corpse.
She alerted her husband, who then told her to get back into the car with the kids, but she did not – she insisted on staying with the body until police arrived.
She did not want Jane to be alone.
I’ve read of this happening before and seen it re-enacted in crime documentaries; people – who upon finding the body of a deceased stranger – stay with the remains for as long as possible, regardless of the shocking scene before them.
And I get it.
As horrifying and confronting as it must be in some cases, you give that lost life a last piece of respect, a dignity. It’s a strange bond you now share and staying is an act of kindness.
And I’ve often wondered, why do these particular people happen upon the body? These, often regular, folk simply going about their day? Are they chosen?
Is there a destined link between the finder and the dead? We don’t think about these men and women and the trauma they face.
We think of the victim, their families, and the perpetrator, but not these individuals whose lives are also now forever changed.
Stumbling upon a stranger’s body, you must feel a connection to them, a responsibility of sorts, an obligation. How could you not?
And perhaps you believe that God, or some force beyond your reckoning, drew you to this soul.
Maybe you have always shared a connection – if you didn’t before, you certainly do now.
I imagine these people become obsessed with the man or woman they find; wanting to know their history, who they were, their hopes and dreams – and of course the narrative surrounding their death.
It must keep them up at night.
It would be impossible to shake the story of this individual you were – perhaps – destined to find. And how do you shake that image of their remains?
Your life – simply put – would never be the same again. Are you a hero, giving closure to loved ones of the deceased?
Or are you a villain, crushing all hope and putting the final full-stop to the storyline?
I think of these people – these regular folk going about their day – and wonder.