Relatives of an Alberta teacher killed earlier this month say their family is living a nightmare.
Speaking with reporters for the first time since the remains of Spruce Grove middle school teacher Jolene Cote were discovered west of Edmonton on Oct. 13, the grief-stricken family fought back tears at a news conference as they pleaded for help in the police investigation on Wednesday.
Cote's elder sister, Rhonda Berg, told reporters that since the day of the killing the family has "been living a nightmare — the most horrible kind of nightmare that we can never wake up from."
"My sister Jolene was a gentle, kind patient mother whose young children always came first in her life," she said. "They can never be comforted by their mother again, and this will change who they are forever. She was also a loving wife who was loved and adored by her husband. He is devastated."
The loss has been particularly painful for their mother, Dorothy Commandeur, Berg said.
"Jolene and our mom shared a very special bond," she said, choking back tears. "Our mother will never be the same. She will always have a hole in her heart that Jolene Maria used to fill."
Berg said "solving this case will never bring her back to us, but it will help us to have peace and begin to heal, urging "anyone with any information about Cote's death to come forward to the RCMP or Crime Stoppers."
"Jolene gave her life to help others," she said, "and now it's our turn to help her."
"Jolene was the most supporting and loving wife, careful and playful mother, a sister that was always there for you and a thoughtful and loving daughter," said her younger sister, Krista Knapp.
'Jolene gave her life to help others and now it's our turn to help her.' — Rhonda Berg, Jolene Cote's sister
"This has been a nightmare for our family, waking up every morning thinking it's a horrible dream. But this is our reality."
The family is attempting to raise funds "to possibly be offered as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for this horrible crime," Berg said. "Donations can be made to the Jolene Cote Memorial Trust Fund at any Alberta Treasury branch."
Cote, a 36-year-old mother of two, was found dead after police were called to her home on the morning of Oct. 13 to investigate a report of an "injured person."
Cote taught Grade 9 at Greystone Centennial Middle School in Spruce Grove, just west of Edmonton.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Tim Taniguchi said police have no suspects in the case.