Monday, March 30, 2015

Utter heartbreak

When I first heard of the disappearance of University of Minnesota student Jennifer Houle, who had not been seen since leaving a Dinkytown bar at 1:00 a.m. Friday morning, I had little hope she would be found safe once it got past 36 hours without contact. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to pray for her return without knowing for sure what had happened. I actually recognized her last name, as I went to high school with kids named "Houle." Sure enough, I was in the same grade as her uncle. Despite the fact I hadn't seen said classmate in nearly 20 years, it became a little personal. When I was growing up on the east side of St. Paul, we were a tight-knit community, one which was there for each other in a time of crisis, regardless if neighbors were close friends or mere acquaintances.

Unfortunately, we learned Monday there's a certain mom and dad in the Twin Cities who are now living a parent's worst nightmare.

Minneapolis police on Monday confirmed video evidence shows missing University of Minnesota student and Pi Beta Phi sorority member Jennifer Houle went into the Mississippi River from the 10th Avenue Bridge early Friday morning. The Hennepin County sheriff's office has been called in for a water recovery effort.

Houle, 22, had last been seen by friends at the Blarney Pub in Dinkytown sometime between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Friday, March 27. Police said no suspects are being sought.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the Houle family and all of Jennifer's many friends," Minneapolis police said in a statement. "The Minneapolis Police Department and the family of Jennifer Houle wish to thank the many people who provided support, assistance, and information since Jennifer's disappearance. The Houle family has requested privacy at this difficult time."

While I'm certain the family is, in a very small way, relieved to have some clarity regarding Jennifer's whereabouts, more questions are likely to arise. Was this an accident or did she willingly take her own life? If it's the latter, this will lead to additional questions as well as more anguish to the family.

Continued prayers, thoughts and any other karmic interventions to be extended their way.


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