By Jeff Skrzypek
COQUILLE, Ore. — The trial for Nicholas McGuffin remains unset, but the impact of the arrest of Leah Freeman’s former boyfriend can be seen on the faces of her family.
It was the announcement Freeman’s mother, Cory Courtwright waited more than 10 years to hear. While she describes the arrest of her daughter’s former boyfriend as a step towards closure, she says it’s been a trying decade fighting for her daughter’s justice.
“We’re all very happy that this day has finally come. We’ve been through a lot,” said Courtwright. “I was a little scared at first because he wouldn’t say anything over the phone. He just told me to come to the office.”
That’s when Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier and Coquille’s chief of police broke the news to her. Police had arrested Nicholas McGuffin, her daughter’s high school sweetheart for the girl’s murder.
“It was like finally, finally, finally happened, because yeah I think they got the right guy,” she said.
But Courtwright says she didn’t always feel that way. She says at first she had her doubts and didn’t think it could have been McGuffin.
“I didn’t want to think anyone could do anything so horrible you know, especially her boyfriend. It makes me sick,” she said.
But years of begging for help also made Courtwright sick as she led her family, pushing the then-chief of police to look outside of Coquille for aid in the investigation.
“Which is what I ask for 10 years ago, outside help, can you get some outside help, but I couldn’t get an answer from him, but I did from this one,” she said.
Chief of Police Mark Dannels made it his mission to crack open unsolved cases, like Leah Freeman’s, when he took over nearly two years ago.
“There is a long road ahead of us, and we know that, I know that. It is what it is now, and so I just have to deal with it, and however long it takes, I’ll be right here,” said Courtright.
Courtright says she would have liked to have had an arrest 10 years ago when this all started, but she says it’s worth the wait and worth it if it means getting justice for her daughter.