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She has touched my heart

Memorial created 04-20-2012 by
Teresa Shepard
Taycia Marie Bertoch
November 21 1992 - October 10 2011

The story I am about to post is a small look into the tremendous diversity Taycia went through in such a small amount of time she spent here.  I am so proud of her and how strong she was she climbed that mountain so many times.  She was a stone standing strong.  Stronger of a person at 6 years old then most in there life time  Not only did she stand strong for herself she stood strong for many of her friends, her niece and nephews and her family.  If I could just touch one person with her story and help some one else know they are not alone.  My darling butterfly I tell your story, of how brave and strong you were and how proud your family is of you.  We love and miss you to end of the world and back again, to the heavens and back again The world changed when I lost you. I have yet to find my way but know you must be guiding me for I know it is not I.  I love you Babygirl.

                       TayDay’s Story

Taycia was bright, beautiful and full of energy and seemed to always have a smile on her face.  Taycia’s Brother Casey, my oldest son called her TayDay and eventually all her family and friends called her that as well as Tay Tay and that is what her niece and nephews called her.


Taycia hid her pain very well.   As I go into Taycia’s life and tell you her most deep inner pain, I want everyone to know I tell her story to help young adults and children who have been through what Taycia went through and I know in my heart that if the horrible things that happened to her didn’t happen she would be here today with everyone she loved and cared about.  As I tell Taycia story some of the events that happened in her life may be hard to read and the topic I will be talking about is not talked about near as much as it needs to be.  It too like suicide is a taboo that is not welcomed in the society in which we live in yet is one of the biggest problems children face today and the cause of most children’s problems that they have to face with little or no support from the community, schools, law enforcement, and our Justice System.


  I first started noticing a change in Taycia when she turned eleven this was four years after her father and I separated and was later divorced.  I noticed a difference when I looked into her eyes, underneath her bright blue eyes there was a deep sadness I could see, tears that seemed to be in her eyes covering them yet not one drop fell to her face,   instead they just circled her once gleaming, sparkling blues that I loved looking into.  I know the divorce had been hard on all my kids Taycia being the youngest.  I had left her father (my oldest two’s stepfather) because he was abusive and an alcoholic. He was very abusive to my oldest son.  A lot of the abuse happened when I was at work, we worked opposite shifts so one of us was always home with the kids I unfortunately worked the night shift so I did not get to see how truly abusive he really was to the kids.   We shared joint custody with the two children we had together who were Taycia and her older brother, while my other two children from my first husband lived with me.  One day while Taycia was on her days to be over, she was very down and it was not normal for her to be so gloomy.  I asked her how everything was going.  I had noticed her grades had fallen and when I look at her school work I noticed she was having trouble spelling.  She shrugged her shoulders up and down and said okay.  This was also not like her to look so defeated, so low I was starting to get worried.  I just knew something was terribly wrong.   It’s like, when something is wrong with your children you have that bond, that connection, you just know.  I touched her shoulder and said “Taycia what is it? You can tell me, I might be able to help.”   She started to cry.  On that day I changed! Nothing was the same.


Taycia told me her father’s Friend (his name I will leave out) was hurting her. She was being sexually abused by someone that was in her father’s life on a daily bases due to them working together, they had also know each other since grade school.  This friend of my ex-husbands was not around the entire time I was married to him, he re-entered his life after our divorce.  Words cannot describe what went through my mind then.  My first reaction was to freak out, totally lose it, then I looked at her, she was so scared, terrified!  I had never seen anyone so scared.  As tears rolled down her face and mine I just hugged her, told her I loved her and that everything was going to be okay.  I asked her if we should call her dad and tell him, she said no.   I asked her if I should call his wife (he had re-married) she said yes because I am afraid for my step sister.  What happened next was a shock to me.  I never thought a woman especially a mother would respond the way she did.  She started yelling and calling me a lair and I am making it up to keep the kids away from their father.  She said Taycia was a liar and I told her what to say.  I could not believe it; I had never called her before, I had never fought with my ex-husband since the divorce or since he had re- married.  I did not understand why she acted this way.

But most of all I seen what it did to my daughter.  For part of her family did not believe her, they thought she was making it all up.   I was lost.  Who do you go to for help, call the police, call social services, I didn’t know, people didn’t talk about this that I knew of.  This didn’t happen to kids safe in their homes by close family friends.  I did not know how such events would eventually reveal even more pain, horror and darkness, and soon destroy my family.


I contacted the Police dispatch who then came to the house and made a report; Social Service came out and made a report, It was then I learned not only was her father’s friend sexually abusing her, another person was also sexually abusing Taycia; this person is a close family member.  This family member I will leave their name out as well.  This person should look out for her and protect her not hurt her.   I went to the court house and got a protective order against their father and was granted temporary custody of Taycia and her older brother.   Taycia then went to the Children’s justice center here in Salt Lake City, UT, where they interviewed Taycia with a psychologist and a detective from the Police department of the city where the majority of the abuse took place.  We went to the first court hearing on the protective order.  When my husband and I walked into the court room without a lawyer only a guardian of litem for the children, we found the whole court room was filled with her father’s entire family.  I am not talking his brother and sister and parents, I am talking the entire extended family everyone alive… and a lawyer to do all his talking.  The only thing I could think was what is all of this doing to my daughter.   Hello the victim, the one that all this happened to, the one that has to live everyday with this.  I lost the fight and the kids went back to their dads, the guardian of litem recommended the kids to return to their normal life and there stability with their father.  Unbelievable right!


Later that year I enrolled into a class about the impact of sexual abuse on victims and their families and what I learned was so valuable  I felt the class needed to be presented to everyone while they are pregnant and/or defiantly before you were to bring your baby home for the first time.  If I would have known the signs children display when they are being abused, the average sexual predator and who they target, there way of manipulating there victims, everything you should be watching for in your children, I could have seen the abuse earlier and maybe could have changed the outcome.


  Taycia moved in with me on September 7 2007, about nine months after the protective order had been removed and she went back to her fathers.   Her visits during those nine months she was with her dad were few and far between.  I was worrying so much for her and was helpless in helping her.  Not knowing how to approach her.  Not wanting to push her, she was only eleven and had went through what most people never experience in there whole life. I knew that when she moved back in that something was bothering her again and she was trying to escape whatever it was.   I wanted her to go to counseling,  she didn’t  want to she was so traumatized by having to tell what happened to her  and I know she was constancy asked and bothered by her dads family that is just how they were over and over to so many people she did not want to keep telling it. She wanted to focus on school and just being a normal kid. So I let her, I wish today that I would have had her go into counseling then.





March 20, 2008 Taycia went out with her friends and was staying the night at her friend’s house.  I told Taycia I would call her before I went to bed.  She didn’t have many sleepovers except for with her close friends she had grown up with.  When I called her she did not answer, I tried again, still no answer I was upset thinking she was avoiding me and up to something she should not be doing, I left a message that I would be by to pick her up at 10 am the next morning.  When I showed up to pick her up she walked out of the house I immediately knew something was wrong with her.  Her eyes were puffy and inflamed like she had been crying all night, she held her head down, she was walking funny, she got into the truck and I turned to her and asked her what was wrong, she started to cry, said her friends older cousin that was staying with them he was 24,  Raped her.  As I looked at her I could see bruises around her mouth and neck.  I took her to Primary Children’s Hospital and they contacted the police.  They completed a Rape kit and treated her for sexually transmitted diseases and an aids test that she would now have to be tested every three months.  I could not believe this was happening to her after all she had been through already, she was so small at 5’1” and 92 pounds she was so tiny, so fragile, and so young.  


July 17, 2009 Taycia went to visit her father.  He was going to take her school clothes shopping and have a dinner on Sunday so she was just going to stay the weekend.  On July 20th I received a phone call at work.  It was Taycia’s father, he was at the hospital. Taycia took a bunch of pills and had inflicted cuts on the arm he told me.  I hung up the phone and drove over to the hospital I called my husband on the way and told him to meet me there. As I pulled into the parking lot  I felt this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, I had to pull myself together for my daughters sake, I had to be strong. When I walked into the room my heart sank to my feet, I could barely move toward her, the pain in her eyes told me she was afraid.  As I walked over and kissed her on the forehead, her eyes pleaded with me but I didn’t know what it was she was trying to say.  Her father was on the other side of her, touching her face, her arm, her hand. Moving it back and forth, rubbing her nonstop.  It was making me feel uncomfortable, then I realized, what was making me feel uncomfortable, was making her uncomfortable, it was him,  his touching that is what  was bothering her yet she was too afraid to ask him to stop.  I thought to myself why is she afraid to tell him it was bothering her.  So I moved to the other side of the bed in front of him, I pushed him out of the way and took his place and started to talk to her.  She was admitted for attempted suicide she had taken, several different pills she had got from her friends, her step brother, and out of her father’s medicine cabinet.  She had several cuts on her right arm and two very deep cuts on her left arm and they were bandaged.  She was found unconscious they were monitoring her heart  due to  different types of pills that were reacting together that could cause Heart failure.  A social worker came in and asked me to meet with her in the other room, nervousness and worry is what came over me next, for some reason I knew that moment there was something incredibly wrong.  I sat down next to the social worker and she began by telling me they were going to admit Taycia to a hospital, she called it UNI, and the way she said it terrified me. I said UNI (u-knee); she said yes that is just what we call it in the field I am in, it stands for the University of Neuropsychiatric Institute.   She then said I have talked to your daughter and she is fine with me talking to you about the conversation I had with her. Teresa, Taycia’s father is sexually abusing her. This is the reason she states she tried to kill herself, as soon as there is a bed we will be transferring her there.  I just fell to the floor. The next several days were bad, after the hospital cleared her and there was a bed they transferred her to UNI.  She had to stay 24 hours without visitors, it was a locked down facility.  They let my husband and I go up for 10 minutes after we finished with her admitting paperwork.   She came out to where we were setting and I remember it like it was yesterday.  She climbed up on my lap and threw her arms around me and said mommy I am scared.  It was like she was 6 years old again begging me to protect her, to take her away, to take all the hurt, and  pain she felt, all the darkness that consumed her.  Leaving her there was one of the hardest things I had to do.  As days passed Taycia slowly started participating in groups and talking to other kids that were there.  They started teaching her how to cope with different events that had happened in her life. She slowly started to smile more and talk more; it helped her start to move on. She was on very little medication they only gave her tramadol for sleeping because of all the nightmares she was having, they said Taycia was only getting about two hours of sleep at night and this was a big factor in how she was feeling.   Taycia was diagnosed with PTSD but they did not want her on any anxiety meds due to her taking pills to try and commit suicide.  She was an inpatient for 14 days then she went to outpatient, to a group called Teen Scope.  She did well in the group and it was getting time to start school she would be a junior in high school when it started.  Taycia wanted to go back to school and Teen scope and her psychiatrist said they felt as long as she went to counseling she would be fine and if she had any bad thoughts just to call a number and gave it to her, told her she could call anytime day or night she was always welcome if she found herself struggling with feelings of hurting herself.  Taycia started seeing a therapist, started back in school and was doing so well.  I was so proud of her, all that she had been through and she seemed to be doing so good.  Doing well in school, started working at Papa Murphy’s Pizza, we bought her a car, nothing fancy a 1999 geo prism she loved her car.  She could go with friends, drive to school, and go to and from work, she started talking about college and that she wanted to help kids like herself, she thought if she told her story to kids they would see they weren’t alone.  That sexual abuse happens and it’s not their fault, and they don’t have to be ashamed.  She was excited about life again. I was so thankful that we had made it through what I thought to be the toughest time in our lives. Taycia was doing well, she was truly happy.



February 28, 2011 my husband and I moved to Arizona we relocated with our jobs.  Taycia was going to attend Arizona State University after she graduated.  The job required relocating sooner than Taycia was going to graduate, she was going to graduate early in April she had all of her credits and that allowed her to finish earlier than the rest of her class.  Taycia moved in with her sister and my husband and I moved to Arizona.  When Taycia finished school I asked her when she wanted me to come down and get her and her room moved, thinking she would have a hard time leaving I figured it would be a couple of weeks.  She of course said she wasn’t ready she need a few weeks to hang out with her friends, say goodbye to everyone and mentally get ready for her big change.  Weeks turned into months and it was time for her High School Graduations so my husband and I went to Salt Lake City for her graduation it was on June 3 2011, Taycia graduated High School she was so happy, her smile lit up the whole room. You could not have wiped the smile off her face if you tried.  We had a big graduation dinner for her at a local Restaurant then she was going to a graduation party with all her friends.  I was so proud of her! Everything she had been through, she made it!  She was a young woman, a high school graduate; soon she would be going to college, starting her life a new life, a good life, the life she always dreamed of.  Taycia did not want to come home with us; she asked if she could just finish the summer with all her friends.  I agreed yet was reluctant to say yes, I had yet another uneasy feeling.


I started talking more to my daughter in law and asking more questions, more questions to Taycia, more questions to her sisters even her brother.   I starting asking what she was doing, who she was hanging out with, has she talked about moving and starting school its getting close to her deadlines?   I was starting to get very worried I had seen this side of Taycia and I knew she was having a hard time.  With my entire question asking I finally got some answers.  Taycia was seeing a boy and it was a boy she knew I would not approve of or that I liked.  This boy whom I should call a man since he is 26 but it is hard because he acts like a boy, was an acquaintance of my oldest son and was also the man Brandi our close family friend was with when she died.  This boy was not good for Taycia, with everything she had been through and how fragile she was I knew this was not good, not good at all.  I confronted Taycia about her new boyfriend, she didn’t lie, and she said they started seeing each other after she finished school and that she loved him.  Taycia said “mom he is not as bad everyone says, he is really nice if you just get to know him.”   The point is I did know him I knew exactly who he was, what kind of person he was, and what he was all about.  From the moment I met him in 2008 I knew, the way you know when you meet a person that is just bad news.  All the kids came to Arizona to visit for my Birthday the weekend of July 22, 2011 it was truly a great time, the last time we all got together as a family.  Taycia did not stay in Arizona she went back to Salt Lake City with her sister.


Taycia called me September 5th and said that I needed to come to Salt Lake City to get my grandson and move him to Arizona with us, his mom was not doing good and there was a lot of fighting going on with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend.  I did not know what to think,  I did know that Taycia was serious and if she was going to finally start letting me know what was going on,  I needed to listen and I needed to go to Salt Lake City right then.  When I reached Salt Lake City and went to see Taycia and her sister I was shocked!  Shocked was an understatement, my oldest daughter had bruises all up and down her arms, she had a blackened eye, a fat lip, she had bruises on her legs her stomach like she had been kicked.  The only thing I could think was, what I was thinking letting them all stay down here when I can’t watch over them and make sure everything is okay.  Yes my oldest daughter was 23 but not ready to be on her own.  I was angry and upset but I still tried to understand, I knew I could not keep my oldest daughter from doing anything that she didn’t want to do she had made that clear since she was about 15, but I could protect my grandson and I could try to convince Taycia it was time to come to Arizona it had been long enough and that the living situation was clearly negative and bad. 


September 12, 2011 we headed home to Arizona, Taycia and my grandson with us and my oldest daughter getting her apartment packed so she could move down as well.  I felt peace and that everything was finally falling into place it had been a hard year being separated from my kids and grandkids and know it was going to be okay we were going to all move forward with our future and leave the past in the past, it was a great day.  The next week Taycia talked so much, she told me everything that had happened and what her brother and sister were doing, she told me all about her boyfriend and how he treated her, how her sister’s boyfriend treated her and how she was afraid for her sister, she said something bad is going to happen to her if she does not move to Arizona, she told me her sister was getting into trouble with the law and she told me they both had been using crystal meth.  She told me things that kids do not normally tell their parents.  Things that kids only confide in with other people they trust or think they can trust like their friends and their sisters and brothers.   I learned a lot and was even more thankful that she was home with me and my grandson was here.  I just need to get my oldest daughter here, she was reluctant to come she had her place all packed, the moving truck reserved she just would not move.  The next few days Taycia seemed down, missing her friends and her boyfriend, they had a fight right before she left with us on the 12th , he had threw her all around the room yelling at her and freaking out he was on crystal meth and from what Taycia told me he did that to her from time to time.  Taycia came to me Thursday morning September 22nd, crying and said that she had gotten a ticket in Salt Lake City for possession of spice and had to go to court on Monday or she would have a warrant.  This was the first time she had told me she had the ticket. My husband did not have a good feeling about us going and did not want us to go.  I said what else should I do, if she needs to go to court I will just go with her and get it resolved.  She needs this cleared up.   I drove to Salt Lake City with her; we stayed at my oldest son’s house.  When I woke up the next morning Taycia was gone.  Just like that, the night before she was lying next to me and said goodnight, I Love You, I said I Love You too, she got up to go to the couch and that was the last time I seen my daughter until October  6,


Taycia had left with her boyfriend at 4 O’clock that morning Saturday September 24th,  she would not answer her phone she only text me and wrote “I am not going back to Arizona, I am staying here, I am 18 years old and you can’t tell me what to do anymore, it is my choice.”   I went home to Arizona upset, if I knew one thing I knew this; when Taycia spoke like that she was in a dark place within herself, she only talked like that when something was going on.  I knew something bad was going to happen!

I called my oldest daughter eight times a day, I called my daughter in law two and three times a day, asking if they had heard from Taycia, do you know where she is, I told both of them we need to find her and talk to her something bad is going to happen I can feel it.


October 4, 2011 my oldest daughter called me around 1:30 in the afternoon she said she was with Taycia and that they were going to move down to Arizona and they would leave on Friday October 7th in the morning, I was so happy and excited.  I remember asking her why not sooner and she answered that there was some stuff she had to do and Friday was the soonest.  I accepted this because I just wanted them both home, she told me that Taycia wanted to talk to me, I was glad to get to talk to her but I was also upset,  I was tired of how she was always just running off and not talking to me not telling me how she felt, I was not as motherly( as I feel now I should have been, I was angry) I asked her why she kept running off and that I wish she could see that her boyfriend was not good for her, I asked her when she was going to hold her end of the deal and start college even if she did not want to move to Arizona why was she not going to college.  Taycia asked were her clothes were that she had brought down when went down in September and I told her what I did with them.  I had been so mad when she took off and hurt I did something I am not proud of.  There is not a day that goes by that this does not go through my mind, it is my regret that I live with every day.   I told Taycia “I threw them in your sisters recycle bin” she said “you threw my clothes away!” I said “not the garbage (like it really makes a difference, what I did was horrible and not the right way for a mother to act) the recycle bin, you can go get them out.  I was hurt and I am sorry I did it, but Taycia enough is enough.”  I heard her throw the phone and yell “why is everyone mad at me!!” she was crying I told her sister to please go talk to her I wanted to talk to her again, I needed to talk to her again and let her know I was not mad anymore I just want what was best for her.  She said Taycia will be okay she just thinks everyone is mad at her.  The next morning I got up and called it was 7:30 in the morning I want to make sure they were okay and I wanted to talk to Taycia and see if I could do anything for her, see if she need me to send some money, if she needed to buy anything to replace the stuff she didn’t have with her, no answer so I left a message.  I called three more times no answer.  The next time I called my oldest daughter answered and I ask how they were she said okay, I asked to talk to Taycia, she told me “mom I am doing something can I call you back and then you can talk to her” I said fine whatever and she hung up. I was very upset; she just dismissed my wanting to talk to Taycia like that.


October 5th 2011 4:38 p.m. I receive a phone call from my oldest daughter, I was in Wal-Mart and when I picked up my cell phone and I didn’t have a good connection I could not her anything on the other end so I hung up, it rings again I don’t answer I am in line and figure I will call her back when I get outside the store.  My cell phone rings again it is my daughter in law but then it stops ringing, she calls back I answer she say something I can’t make out I said I can’t hear you I am inside Wal-Mart it is a bad connection, I hear something else then I make out Taycia.  Now I am done and heading out of the Wal-Mart the call drops.  My cell phone rings again I answer it my daughter in law says” It’s Taycia;” she is hysterically crying I can barely make out what she is saying.  I hear threw all the hysterics of the room my daughter in law was in, I hear Taycia she tried killing herself.


I get in the car I am know extremely upset and my husband wants to know what is going on I look at him and say Taycia tried killing herself.  I ask how did this happen?  I just talked to her sister she was going to have her call me back!   What is going on!!!  My daughter in law said “Taycia hung herself in the bathroom her sister found her and called 911, we are at the hospital.”   My husband and I return home and start packing in a panic, we are not right around the corner, we are 10 hours away.  At 5:45 p.m. The first doctor that seen my daughter called and said “Taycia has sustained substantial injuries and is in a deep coma we are unable to wake her out of the coma.   You are going to need to come as soon as you can, it does not look good, I am sorry to tell you this Taycia is in bad shape.”  I reached the hospital on October 6, 2011 at 8:00 am, when I entered the room I felt like I was hit by a truck, my legs buckled and I started to fall to the floor  the nurse slid a chair under my and I sat next to Taycia and took her hand into mine and held it softly. I did not leave Taycia’s bedside until October 8th at 7:00 p.m.  The nurse on duty insisted on me going to get something to eat and just try to get some sleep and maybe a shower.  I left only to shower and see my grandkids I knew with everything going on and them knowing I was in town but had not seen or talked to them that they were scared and knew something was wrong.  I also knew my daughter was not going to wake up, some way she communicated this to me, all of that time I sat with her she communicated to me threw my thoughts. It is hard to explain the best way I could explain it is that Taycia spoke to me in my mind, in my thoughts, like she was in my head and when we communicated it was like talking to her in my mind.  She said she was safe and free and she didn’t hurt any more then she played a song over and over in my head.  It was a song I had not heard since Taycia was just one year old.    The song was Angels among us by Alabama.   I knew then she was telling me to let her go, to let her free from this life.  Taycia always loved music, she truly listened to the words and felt music, she believed music communicated everyone’s deepest feelings she related a lot of her life in and to music.  I also felt the need to play her music so I would from my cell phone. Taycia had downloaded a ton of music the two weeks she had been in Arizona.  The song I played her was tempory home by Carrie Underwood; it also was something she communicated me to play to her. I feel she had me play the song to help me know it was time for her to leave her tempory home.   The doctors had confirmed that she had extensive brain damage and would never be able to function normal again she would always have to be on life support and she would never recover.  The Taycia in the bed is not the Taycia you know anymore.   She never will be they said.


October 10, 2011 at 10 O’clock we removed Taycia from life support; it was 44 minutes after the hour that Taycia took her last breath and exited this life and move to the next. That is what I hope.   She was immediately taken from the room to surgery; she was going to be an organ donor and with being a donor there is time sensitive procedures that need to be completed.


We lost our Angel too soon, too young, as I set her today and tell Taycia story I look for hope, I look for change, and I look to myself to do what my daughter could not do. I move on one day at a time, day after day by doing what I know she would want me to do.  Some days are much harder than others, some days I don’t get out of bed and some days I can’t wait to experience what she will show me next.

Taycia went through something I feel no one can understand unless they have lived in the hell she lived in.  I can feel true sorrow and true pain for her, I could listen to her and try to help her threw her darkness but I will never be able to truly feel how she felt every day.   I can only imagine the awfulness that she endured throughout her life.   Taycia lived it. 


Taycia would be here today if it was not for sexual abuse and Rape.  She would not have carried around that darkness, the evil, the dark passenger she called it.  She could not control when he came.  As Taycia’s mother I have set out to find answers to ask questions and to find a way to help kids like Taycia that unfortunately has had to go through sexual abuse and may be thinking of suicide. Feeling the way Taycia did like she was the only one, she wasn’t, there just weren’t the right resources, the right empowerment not given to these children to be able to protect them when we can’t be there to protect them.   Taycia was a beautiful, bright, caring, loving, person with a lot to give and she would be here today if those four evil people did not take her childhood, her innocence, her dignity.   They took her life…









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