July 24, 2023 | By: Katrino Reyes
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and the University of North Florida’s Applied Journalism class.
Christopher Courtemanche has been gone for more than 20 years, but his family still remembers him as a prankster, a tinkerer, and most importantly, as a kind human being.
In 2001, Christopher was shot and killed inside his car in Marshall, Texas. He was 17 years old. The perpetrator has not yet been found.
His mother, Lynne Arnett, remembers her son as a caring and loving boy. For her, Christopher’s enjoyment of life was evident because of his sense of humor.
“He would just get really close to me when I stop and he’d go, ‘Hi!’” his mother said. “And I just jump and scream, and he would laugh.”
Christopher was creative, with a passion for drawing and playing the guitar. He loved to share his knowledge, teaching people the things he knew about art and music.
“He tried to teach me how and he would tell me, ‘Okay, when I get home from school, I’m going to give you the guitar and just practice,’” Lynne said. “I did a few chords with him, but I really wasn’t good with that.”
While most siblings didn’t get along during their childhood years, Christopher and his sister, Sara Marshall, formed a strong bond.
Sara always looks up to her brother, and one thing she was most amazed about is his intelligence and his love for tinkering with gadgets and cars.
“He would take something apart like a toaster or a radio, and put it back together,” Sara said. “I’d go to his room, and he’d be like, ‘Here, hold these wires.’”
Christopher was aware of his sister, Sara’s admiration towards him as an older sibling. She’d always follow him around the house and ask questions. During one of these times, Christopher told her, “God, you ask so many questions!” He then turned around, looked at his sister real close, and gave her the advice that still resonates with her to this day: “Never stop asking questions.”
“I could tell you he was annoyed but he knew it’s okay,” Sara said. “It was just the epitome of the annoying little sister looking up to the big brother moment and it just always stuck with me because he didn’t get frustrated or annoyed or bothered.”
Christopher was well-known by people in his community, and it shows even in his passing. His funeral had a full parking lot and a huge crowd having to stand at the back or even outside of the church.
“It was an all-day affair, and there were people just everywhere,” Sara said. “The man who runs the funeral home had told my grandparents that he has never seen as many people show up in a funeral ever.”
One of the things that Christopher’s family does annually to keep his memory alive is to make cheesecakes for his birthday. They also visit his grave annually.
Sara said that it would bring closure to their family if the case were solved.
“I think there had been a lot of questions and a lot of blank spaces that nobody has been able to fill over the years,” Sara said. “The closure would just give everyone a sense of relief.”
Christopher’s friends and family continue to go on without him but keep the memories he left with them. He’ll always have a sister who remembers her brother stargazing in the backyard with her, and a mother who always cherished her son’s long hugs on a bad day, telling her, “It will be all right.”
His Mother, Lynne wants people to remember him as good artist who loved to draw. Christopher was a fun-loving kid who loved cars and his family. “He loved to be around his family” His mother stated. Lynne laughed and expressed that he was “Good at everything he did, and we were all jealous. He just blew us away.”
If you have any information on the murder of Christopher Courtemanche, please call the Houston Police Department Homicide Division at (713) 308-3600. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a reward, call Crime Stoppers at (713) 222-TIPS or dial **TIPS from your mobile device. At the time of publishing this story there is a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.
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