Family of Kerrie Ann Brown continue to hold out hope that justice will be served in the brutal rape and killing in 1886 of the beloved teen.
“This case has loomed over Thompson this entire time. I see people every time I go that want to talk about Kerrie,” her older brother, Trevor Brown, 52, said in an interview with CBC News on Tuesday.
A suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree murder less than a week after Kerrie’s death, but a judge stayed the charge laid against Patrick Sumner during the preliminary hearing four months later because of a lack of evidence.
Kerrie’s father, Jim Brown, reported her missing at about 4 p.m. CT on Friday, Oct. 17, 1986. The girl, 15, had vanished from a party the previous night.
On Oct. 18, her body was found in a wooded area on the outskirts of her hometown of Thompson.
It’s been more than three decades, but Trevor still holds out hope that justice will be served, especially since the CBC podcast Somebody Knows Something, written and hosted by David Ridgen, featured her case in Season 5.
“Dave kicked the hornet’s nest and stirred it up and that’s the RCMP. And I definitely want to say that the podcast has been integral in causing the RCMP to move their feet in ways they hadn’t before,” Trevor said.
Two sets of DNA were found and connected to the homicide, but the RCMP hasn’t said whether they have been matched to anybody.
After multiple calls and emails to RCMP prompting them to send the historical DNA for further testing at a better equipped lab, Trevor was told in a phone conversation with a now retired Mountie that a DNA profile has been sent to a private lab and that genetic genealogy was being employed as a technique to further the investigation. Those facts were confirmed in an email obtained by CBC News.
The RCMP hasn’t said that publicly.
Trevor’s belief that a lab with specialized capabilities in DNA testing has the samples, such as one in the U.S. that has solved other cold cases, has given him some hope.
“I think we’re almost there … I think the arrests are coming,” he said.
Trevor says the prospect of justice for Kerrie is what keeps his father Jim, 82, holding on. He suffers from Type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure, but his vital signs are stable.
“This time of year is really hard for him. Obviously he doesn’t sleep the best. I think he wants to see justice for Kerrie before he dies,” Trevor said. “He wants to see whoever did this arrested and I don’t blame him.”
Brown’s case is being investigated as part of Project Devote, an RCMP task force focused on resolving cold cases involving exploited people.
The Mounties say they’re continuing to look for answers.
“While there are challenges to investigating such a long-term homicide, we have never lost hope,” Staff Sgt. Chris Rouire with Manitoba RCMP major crime services said in an emailed statement.
“Efforts to move this investigation forward continue, and we will not rest until we have some answers for Kerrie’s family and for her community.”
Trevor expressed frustration with the lack of communication from the RCMP in an interview on Tuesday, as well as throughout the podcast, wondering why, after so many years, investigators won’t answer so many of his questions.
He’s also wants more information about a phone call an RCMP phone operator says she answered from a panicked, self-professed killer the day before Kerrie’s body was found, and whether this phone call was followed up on as part of the investigation.
RCMP media relations officer Tara Seel said in an email on Tuesday that sharing information with family members and the public needs to be done carefully so as not to jeopardize the investigation or any future court proceedings.
“We will continue to provide information as we can, and we continue to ask that anyone with information about the disappearance and murder of Kerrie Ann Brown contact RCMP to help us continue to work toward providing answers to all those who cared about her,” she said.
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