Last week, a woman from Mountain Village flew to California to confront her sister's killer in court. It took Margaret Waskey 24 hours, three flights, and a snowmachine ride for her to get there.
Michael Sheppard, age 64, was being sentenced for killing Waskey's sister in 2013. Bertha Paulson was Waskey’s baby sister, the youngest of nine children. "We remember her as a very loving person," Waskey said. "Very cheerful, never hurt anyone."
At the time of her death Paulson was homeless in Morgan Hill, a Californian suburb about an hour’s drive from San Francisco. She and the man who killed her had briefly dated. Sheppard beat Paulson brutally at his apartment, put her body in a shopping cart, and dumped it by the nearby railroad tracks. Paulson is survived by her four children; a California jury convicted Sheppard of second-degree murder last November.
Waskey flew to Morgan Hill with the help of Mothers Against Murder, a victims advocacy group that paid for her travel expenses. She says that it wasn't easy.
"[When] I got into that courthouse I sat maybe two hours there, just sitting there," she said. "When it was my turn during the sentencing I gave my speech. I read one paragraph and it kind of hit me and I cried a little bit," she said. "I was really feeling down at first, but later on I felt better," she added. "All that pressure that I used to have, it’s all lifted."
The judge sentenced Sheppard to 15 years to life in prison. Waskey says that she is satisfied that he won’t hurt anyone again.