Friday, November 4, 2011

Never Let go - The Tragedy of Kristy Mcfarlane

I read this book about 20 years ago. It's the true story of a 14 year old girl from Toronto who became a prostitute and drug user.

It was a particularly tragic story because her mother tried very hard to get her off the streets, she spent a couple of years driving around looking for her daughter and trying to help her whenever she could.

For some reason I still think about this book, and what strikes me most is how does a seemingly normal suburban 14 year old girl end up becoming a prostitute?

I've often thought that prostitutes usually come from abusive backgrounds. But while that might often be the case, there is still a high percentage of normal kids from all different backgrounds who are simply attracted to the glamour and excitement that the city nightlife has to offer. In Kristy's case, we are not led to believe that this girl had suffered any kind of abuse.

Her mother claims to have found a diary written by her daughter that hints that her daughter was sexually active by the time she was 13. The only disfunctional aspect of Kristy's life is the fact that her parents divorced when she was a kid and that her mother re-married. Her mother claims that Kristy and the step-father got along great and that she loved him like he was her own father.

I don't actually remember what Kristy's relationship was like with her father. I don't know if she even had one, or if he was even alive by the time she was a teenager. The book really didn't go into a lot of detail over the reasons why she became a prostitute and a drug user.

They just say that she used to hang out in arcades in downtown Toronto and that she had a crush on a guy she used to see there. Apparently he used to smile at her and they kind of flirted. Then one day he started to talk to her and they spent a couple of hours together hanging out. She was supposed to be meeting a friend at the mall, but her friend was late and so she kept going back and forth between the arcade and the mall until eventually she gave up on her friend and just spent the rest of the day with the guy.

When it was time for her to go home, he pressured her into hanging out with him longer. He really put the moves on her and made her feel wanted and liked so she stayed longer. Then she tried to go home, and he was really pushy about staying with him. Eventually he suggested that she go out and turn some tricks for him. She apparently said no, and walked away. He followed her and pushed and pushed, until she finally said yes. She went and stood on some corner and got picked up and turned her first trick. Then she turned several more tricks throughout the night, until 3 a.m or something.

Then she got picked up by the police, who found a large box of condoms in her purse. After that, for the rest of the book she remains a prostitute, uses cocaine and then in the end dies of a heroin overdose in a stairwell of some building after she had supposedly gotten straight and stopped the prostitution.

I suppose at the end of the day it doesn't really matter why she became a prostitute. The story was quite interesting, learning about her mom who was so worried and upset about her. That she was crying so much for her daughter that she had to get a special cream for her face because the tears were irritating her skin. Throughout the story it was very evident that Kristy and her mom had a very strong relationship.

I just can't help but wonder what we are missing from the story. In the story of Kristy, I don't think that anything was exaggerated. There are probably many details that are missing, as there were many people who were involved in her life and I doubt that everyone who knew her came forward and provided details of exactly what happened to her. So there will always be a lot of mystery surrounding this tragic story.

Sadly, I no longer own this book, as I  lent my only copy to a relative and he apparently gave it away. I am especially saddened to find out that the book is no longer in print, so I fear I may never get a chance to read it again.



  1. I was a personal friend of Kristy's and yes indeed they certainly did leave a lot out of the book. Kristy lived with her Mom and they had an awesome relationship and yes her mother did cry a lot for her daughter, that was no lie. She never ceased trying to bring Kristy home and her future seemed so bright and hopeful before she died.

    Kristi was not abused nor did she suffer incest or rape, she simply got caught up in the street life and she LIKED it. To her it was glamorous, she would brag to us about her adventures and the money made. That is why she kept running away at every opportunity. Also her pimp attended high school not far from Kristi's neighbourhood so it was not only downtown she had contact with him.

    Also the fact is the writing of the book began before Kristy's death and she provided most of the information to Tom the author. The details about her rushing head first into lockers at a school dance etc all provided by her personally. I recall everything vividly. Her story was supposed to be a book with a happy ending, of her return to normal life but she was MURDERED before it was finished. Yes she died of an overdose but we don't believe she ingested it on her own. Her pimp's cousin went to our high school and told us that his cousin intended to kill her. Of course he could not do that from jail but he had people on the outside. I warned that the letters she was receiving from him were not love letters at all but just his way of keeping tabs of her whereabouts, but she was blinded by love and would not take heed of my advice and resented me for telling her what was contrary to what she believed.

    The night she died, there was a large group of us that were all supposed to go roller skating and she was to come along with a friend whose house she told her mother she would be "sleeping over" at. When our friend arrived without her, she said that Kristi had been invited by people she associated with downtown and that they had promised to return jewellery that was taken from her when she was working with them which included a necklace of great sentimental value received from her grandmother. Kristy said she would come to the rink after. We are certain that was only a lure to get her where they wanted, there was no way they would still have had her jewellry, it would had been pawned for drugs long before that for sure. I'll never forget the desperation in her mother's voice when she called my home at 3 am looking for her daughter that night. That morning she was later found dead in a stairwell. The book was supposed to only be named "Never Let Go" but ended in tradegy and so the title amended and finished by her mother. None of us ever came forward with what we knew for fear of what could happen to us, we were young and scared.

    Her mother spent many years after her death assisting the police in bringing home other wayward girls in Toronto so they did not fall to the same demise and had another daughter about a decade after Kristy's death.

    RIP Kristy, miss you dearly. I always think of you when I hear your song "Purple Rain".

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that! After all these years I have craved to learn more about this story but the internet is void of any information.

      It must have been so devastating to watch a friend self destruct and then come so close to getting better only to end up dead. I did find the ending rather suspicious, though at the same time I know that people can and do relapse all the time so it wasn't obvious that there was foul play involved.

      After I wrote this entry I did some research into why teenagers become prostitutes and found another book called "The End of My World: The shocking true story of a young girl forced to become a sex slave". It's about a teenager in England who becomes friends with people who lure her into that world. She was not molested or raped prior to this either.

      Such a sad story though. I hope that other teenagers were spared Kristy's fate by the help of her mom.

    2. Hi Lydia, I know this is a weird question but did you attend Albion? I'm not a creep or anything, I'm Kristy's sister.

    3. This is kristy's mom. Thank you for setting most of the story straight. However, the night Kristy died she had been schedule to work at Cheeky's. Also, Mark Morgan had nothing to do with her death. He never had that kind of power. He was not well liked in prison. Imagine. I can not reveal to you who was involved as he fled Canada.He is still being sought by interpol, and all other agencies. Kristy did not know him, but we have reason to believe the girl she was with did. If people would stop and read the book properly they would realize you were correct. Most of the book is written in the first person KRISTY. However Kristy was never addicted to drugs, use them yes. She never had to go for drug treatment. She never, ever did heroine. THAT IS WHAT KILLED HER . It was not injected, it was injested. She had approximately $3000.00 worth of heroine in her stomache. I never remarried, when Kristy died 50% of me died with her. I still have days where I cry, I miss her more than words, and sometimes I still see her in front of me. The anniversary of her death is coming up, 26 unbearable years. so Lydia when people want to throw the stone or talk negatively about my daughter, I don't care. I know who she was, and what she stood for. I know she loved me, was always loyal and protective of me. Yes Purple Rain. She mailed me a 45 of it one day while she was on the run. I didn't know who Prince was, but a note attached to the record simply saying I Love You Mom. The first two lines" I never mean't to cause you any sorrow, I never mean't to cause you any pain.

    4. This is Kristy's mom and your stats are wrong. 72% of all runaways come from physical, sexual, and emtionally abused homes. They run to the streets looking for love and unfortunately they find it at a high price to pay. 28% don't have a reason.
      They are seeking excitement. They are hardest to get off the streets. You can't offer them a loving home, all their needs being met, they came from that.We want answers as a society, and sometimes we don't have the answers. I don't care if people critize me. Kristy was beautiful, smart, witty, and had a whole life ahead of her. She made mistakes, but shee was kind, caring and loving. Most of all I love more than anything or anybody.

    5. Thank you for your comments. I have edited the blog post as I don't want to have incorrect statistics on there.

    6. I was her best friend for 2 yrs. and even had the police haul me in because they thought that since we were so tight, that I must have been with her. She was a beautiful person and we had a lot of great times together and not on drugs . I didn't do them . I wish I had been with her at the time, I would've called 911 and maybe she would still be here. To this day, her anniversary, i miss her dearly. Rest in peace Kristy<3

  2. I was a childhood friend of Kristy's and moved back to California when I was 14. I think I was a bit older than her but we were really good pals. Its still strange for me to think that she is gone and how her life went after my moving away. Its like I just remember us as being kids. Like she's stuck in time (In my head at least.)
    If I remember correctly, Sheila (Kristy's mother) and father were married very young and were divorced when Kristy was a baby. She didn't know her father at all.
    Sheila was an amazing mom and very good to me as well. I hope she has been able to heal and enjoy life.

    1. Jerry this is Sheila. I just happened to stumble on this site. I would love hear from I was just thinking about a couple of weeks ago.

  3. I had spoken with Sheila after reading the book on kristy life 19 years ago. I want to thank you for listening and making stronger as I was on the streets of Toronto at 16 due abusive father. Today I'm the mother of 3 girls and thankful I survived. Thank you sheila

  4. I just finished reading this book. The book states that she died of an overdose of heroin and was found in a stairwell. I can only assume based on the book that whoever injected so much heroin into her body and left her for dead was getting back at her for ratting out the pimp. Has anyone been charged for this murder?

  5. I just finished reading this book. The book states that she died of an overdose of heroin and was found in a stairwell. I can only assume based on the book that whoever injected so much heroin into her body and left her for dead was getting back at her for ratting out the pimp. Has anyone been charged for this murder?

  6. I read this book when I was 18 I remember listeing to Q107 and thats where I found out about the book. I soent my 17th birthday on the street me and my friend ran took off we were out of control and wanted to do what we wantd to do. Crazy hitch hiking atrratced to excitement that life. I went to treatment in 87 That book I still have it. It was so sad the out come and it left me haunted. I grew up in Guelph and moved to toronto to come to college after I turned my life around and its so weird I live on Jarvis for the past 10 years in a lovely condo. I used to speak in the highschools and share my story when I first got clean and sober. I never had any bad things happen to me as a child ect. I liked to get high n drink crazy things I did. My poor parents. Its gods grace that I am still here. Sheila Mcfarlane you truly are a warrior woman xo I'm so sorry that happened to you xo A mothers love a bond that never can be broken. I have 2 children I had some issues with my son a few years back it was fightening to say the least. In feb my sons best friend was murdered at Jane n Lawrence stabbed to death he was like a son to me too! May the God of all comfort heap his richest blessings on you. I'm glad I came across this. I thought i was the only one who was affected so strngly by this book. I always wanted to reach out or hear the rest of the story. After what happened share my condolances ect..

  7. I was a childhood friend of Kristy's. She lived in Winnipeg with her grandmother for a few years when we were very young. After Kristy moved to Toronto with her mother I lost touch with her (no internet back then).
    I didn't hear from Kristy for several years until one summer when we about 15 yrs old. She called me and was in Winnipeg to spend the summer with her grandmother. We hung out a lot over that summer. Kristy was great to hang out with and we had a lot of fun that summer.
    I was shocked when I heard about Kristy's death and immediately went and bought the book. While reading the book I felt like Kristy was right beside me telling me the story herself.
    My deepest sympathy goes out to Sheila and her family. Kristy would be so proud of the work you continued to do with the girls that were still on the street.

  8. Can someone please tell me her birthday and where she's resting, I'd like to visit her. Does she have a favourite flower? I didn't know her, but after reading Never Let Go it felt like we were separated at birth.