Our View: Support our local law enforcement with the Justine’s Fund

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We live in the foothills for many reasons. But one is for the escape from the big city and the crime that’s associated with it. Unfortunately though, sometimes we can’t escape the violence.
For a handful of foothill families, brutal crimes against their loved ones have taken place, much to the shock of our community.
In September of 2003 the horror of losing a child to a brutal crime struck the Vanderschoot family living in Christian Valley. Their then 17-year-old daughter, Justine, went missing after a Labor Day family dinner. After a lengthy investigation it turned out that her then boyfriend, Danny Bezemer, and his friend, Brandon Fernandez, brutally killed Justine and buried her in a remote area in Applegate.
Since the death of their daughter, the Vanderschoots have held a benefit dinner to raise funds for the folks that brought their daughter’s killers to justice. The funds have helped the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and other organizations. To date, Justine’s Fund has raised more than $95,000.
Justine’s Fund should be supported by our community, because as we know in these tough times, especially for public entities, every dollar counts.
Thanks to our local law enforcement, several other high-profile, and unfortunately violent, cases have been solved and the offenders have gone away for lengthy prison terms. After 29 years, former Placer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Kovacich Jr. was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of his wife thanks to a continued focus by local law enforcement. The county also sent Mario Garcia away for a long time for the death of Christie Wilson, whose body was never recovered.
These are just a few of the high-profile cases that have touched our region that have been solved by our local district attorneys, deputies and police. And let us not forget the support systems, such as the Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy, that help us go on after a terrible tragedy occurs.
To help keep our sense of safety and those that guide us through the terrible times that might befall us, we need to chip in, whether it be through Justine Fund’s or other activities. Because keeping our community safe is a task we should all focus on, so we can do our best to prevent another tragedy, or quickly bring justice to the perpetrators of the crime.


Justine Vanderschoot’s Fund 6th annual fundraiser “Wish you were here.”
When: 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday, April 21
Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds, Auburn
Cost: $30 per person, $210 for eight seat corporate table
Details: Benefit includes dinner, live music, no-host bar and raffle. Funds are raised for Placer County District Attorney’s Office, The Center for Victims of Violence and Crime, the Placer County Sheriff’s Council and the
Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy.