By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Remembering when tragedy struck close to home

May 26 marked 20th anniversary of Katie Poirier kidnapping

 


On May 26, 1999, Katie Poirier, 19, was working alone at a convenience store in Moose Lake when she was abducted. Community members rallied in numbers to search for Katie and there was an outpouring of support for her family. After an extensive search and investigation, Donald Blom was arrested and ultimately convicted of murdering Katie Poirier. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

On the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, Sunday, May 26, the Poirier family remembered as they went about their routines, said Patrick Poirier in a telephone interview.

“We went our separate ways and dealt with it differently,” he said.

Patrick is the older brother of Katie and found himself the spokesperson for his parents, Steven and Pam Poirier, at the age of 21 when interviewed by the media.

“I could see their pain,” he said in the telephone interview. “But I didn’t understand the magnitude of what was happening at the time.”

Poirier explained his relationship with Katie.

“We were the best of friends,” he said. “Katie was an athletic kid and sweet. He took her life. He was evil but evil didn’t win that day. Evil never wins. We see the positive in everything.”

The pain of losing his sister, and of his parents losing their daughter, is with them every day.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride the last 20 years of ups and downs, corkscrews and smooth parts,” said Poirier. “We never move on. The pain eases over time but it’s always going to be there.”

Poirier is thankful for his own family.

“LeAnn and I have been married for 18 years,” he said. “She has helped me deal with this pain. I am kind of lucky. We have four kids, and I see a trait of Katie in each one of them. It’s surreal; it’s very cool. I get to see her all of the time and so do my parents. She’s gone but she’s still there because of the traits that I see in them.”


The community support has also been a tremendous help, said Poirier.

“It was like when our house burned (a couple of years ago),” he added. “The community rallied around. I’m not sure if any other community rallies around like ours does.”

The community support has also spurred Poirier to give back.

”I am following in the footsteps of these people as a community leader,” he said. “I have served on the Barnum School Board for 11 years, and my company (Environmental Consulting and Testing, Inc. of Superior, Wisconsin) has supported school programs with donations, such as for robotics, trap shooting club, and business professionals club. I’m not sure that I would have been that kind of a person if not for Katie.”

Poirier said that his parents deal with the pain of losing their daughter in their own ways.

“Mom has a garden with a bench in it,” he said. “She goes and sits on the bench and talks to Katie and prays.”

Poirier also spoke about the support of the law enforcement community and prosecutors.

“I think that the video was the difference in this case compared to others,” he said. “Everyone, including law enforcement and attorneys, realized that it could have been their daughter or niece in that video. They could relate and they took it personally.”

The life of Katie Poirier was memorialized in the Katie Poirier Run during Spring Fever Days for a few years. Poirier said that was too much, since the run was right after the anniversary date of her death. It was discontinued.

“We kept the scholarship going but don’t do fundraisers for it anymore,” he said. “And the congregation at Hope Lutheran Church donated and dedicated a tree in front of the church in Katie’s memory.”

 

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