It was supposed to be a head start in life for two young girls whose mother was murdered 11 years ago.
But the $100,000 donated by the Toronto Star to a trust fund in 1998 became mired in a bureaucratic maze to the point where the money appeared to be missing.
This week, the Star came to the rescue by tracking down the funds that had been earmarked for Aisha Barrett, 18, and her sister.
“Wow!” exclaimed the bewildered young woman when the Star informed her that the funds had been found Thursday morning. “That’s such good news.”
The girls’s mother, Christine Ricketts, was strangled in a Don Mills apartment building March 5, 1998 while working as a door-to-door subscription salesperson for the Star.
Following her death, the paper helped establish separate trust funds for the two young daughters, and donated $50,000 to each. The paper also encouraged members of the public to make donations and they responded with a total of about $9,000.
While the Star delivered the money to the Children’s Aid Society Foundation in late 1998, when Barrett turned 18 this year, she found only $3,500 that had been held for her in an account created by the Ministry of the Attorney General, so she started a frantic search to locate the seemingly missing funds.
“I started calling around and trying to dig up old articles from the Star and other documents that could have led me to where the money could have been,” she said. She also retained a lawyer, and made calls to the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Children’s Aid Society.
But personnel changes and summer vacations at the agencies involved slowed the search down, and as the weeks dragged on it seemed as if she was getting nowhere.
After more than eight weeks of searching, those frustrations were finally relieved Thursday morning when the Children’s Aid Society Foundation told the Star they had located the missing money, which was still in the agency’s possession. Also located was an identical fund for her 13-year-old sister, Natasha.