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I'm haunted by my daughter's murder

Carita Ridgway's mother Annette Foster and sister Samantha
It's a dream that haunts Annette Foster. Her youngest daughter, Carita, then 19, was sitting with a group of Asian men.
"Everyone seemed in good spirits," recalls Annette, now in her 60s. "Carita was laughing, but then I realised that there was nothing happy about what was happening.
"The men wanted Carita to choose one of them. I sensed Carita didn't know how dangerous these men could be, that they'd deceived her ... Everything was malevolent. I needed to warn her, but couldn't."
That dream visited Annette more than 20 years ago, but its menace stirs powerful emotions for her even today.
"There were other dreams, too. In one, I was in the centre of a circle of robed men. They told me the energy was running out for my daughter. I didn't want to frighten Carita. She was young, so I kept the dreams to myself. I wonder if I'd told her whether she might still be alive."
Annette's daughter, Carita, a 21-year-old Perth model turned Tokyo bar hostess, died mysteriously in 1992, doctors theorised, of liver failure triggered by food poisoning.
Yet the truth about Carita's death is that it owed nothing to fate and everything to one man's dangerous obsessions.
Carita died because her beauty marked her out to a sexual predator determined to transform his darkest fantasies into brutal reality.
That man, a Japanese millionaire named Joji Obara, was convicted of killing Carita Ridgway in 2007, after a gruelling seven- year trial. However, Obara kept his case alive, launching appeal after appeal, denying responsibility for Carita's death and the rapes of eight other women.
Until now, the fear that he might elude justice forced Carita's family to keep their silence. A recent decision in the Japanese Supreme Court refusing Obara leave for another appeal has slammed the door on his legal manoeuvring and he is now in Chiba Prison, east of Tokyo.
Finally, Carita's mother and sister have broken their silence about the man once dubbed "a beast with a human face".
"Joji Obara is a monster," says Annette. "Carita thought he was a funny, harmless old man, but for her and for so many others, Obara was the most dangerous man imaginable."
In recent weeks, Annette's rage has resurfaced. She thinks often about her daughter. "I try to be happy. I know Carita would want that. I miss her smile. So, I cling to that and try to be as happy as I can, but it's not easy.
"Carita had her life stretching out before her and then it just stopped. I lost my daughter and everything we'd ever share with her. I'll never know the grandchildren she might have had. Her future disappeared because one man wanted to satisfy some weird sexual urge."
Annette senses the nightmare is not over yet. "There's no closure, not for me. I won't have closure until that man is dead, but even then, I'm not sure that will help.
"Nothing can bring Carita back. In the end, that's all you're left with — that immeasurable loss."
Read more of this story in the July issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.

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