'A void in my heart': vigil for long-missing Saint John teen

It’s been a long, hard wait for the family of missing Saint John teen Kimberly Ann Amero.

32 years after Kimberly Ann Amero's disappearance, family still seeking closure

Tammy Raynes, left, and Denise Amero, wife of the eldest Amero sibling, Ed, have organized a candlelight vigil in Saint John for Kimberly Ann Amero, who disappeared in 1985. The vigil, to mark International Missing Children’s Day, is Friday evening in King Square. (Julia Wright / CBC)

Thirty-two years, eight months and 22 days.

It's been a long, hard wait for the family of missing Saint John teen Kimberly Ann Amero.

On Sept. 3, 1985 — after attending the fireworks at the Saint John exhibition with her younger sister — Amero vanished. It was two days before her 16th birthday. She was never seen again.

"She was my best friend, she was my everything," said her sister, Tammy Raynes. "It has affected me immensely … I've had a void in my heart for all these years and I will always have that void. Even on my best, happiest days, there's still that unhappiness."

False leads, misguided tips

It's a sentiment echoed by her older brother, Ed Amero.

"It's really affected us," he said. "I've had the misfortune of sitting and looking through pictures of Jane Does. Corpses. I'm involved with a lot of missing persons sites … unfortunately, these are my new hobbies."

Kimberly's disappearance has affected every aspect of the family's life, Amero said. "There are many holidays where my mom gets [emotionally] messed up, and that throws a wrench into the rest of the holiday."

The case — which has been the subject of intense local and national media scrutiny, and a podcast, Finding Kimberly Amero by amateur investigator Jaymee Splude — has also attracted misguided tipsters and some disturbed individuals.

Kimberly was 'my best friend, she was my everything,” said Raynes. 'Even on my best, happiest days, there’s still that unhappiness.' (Submitted by Tammy Raynes)

"There's been ... morons saying that they know her, people saying they talked to her, when they investigate it, it's all lies," Amero said. "You wouldn't believe the things we've been through."

On one occasion, a woman falsely claimed to be Amero. Another man, Amero said, has confessed to a role in her disappearance. The link has never been proven.

She was my best friend, she was my everything. It has affected me immensely … I've had a void in my heart for all these years and I will always have that void.- Tammy Raynes , sister of Kimberly Amero

Based on another tip, the family even dug for Kimberly's body at a site in Upham, an experience that Ed Amero said "hit us hard."

"I just kind of come home and slept for 20 hours a day for a few years," said Amero, who suffers from a chronic health condition.  

After a few years of stepping back from the vigils and searching, he said, he's ready to take up the fight again.

"Now, I'm up," he said. 

Vigil tonight in King Square

After over three decades, the family no longer holds any hope Kimberly is alive.

They're still seeking closure in a tragedy that has consumed their lives.

To mark International Missing Children's Day on Friday, the family has organized a vigil in Kimberly's memory.

It's the latest in a series of what sometimes have seemed futile efforts to find out what happened to their sister.

"The more awareness, the more people talk about it," Raynes said. "The more people talk about it, the more answers we're hoping to get."

A missing person poster for Kimberly Ann Amero issued by ChildFind Canada. (Julia Wright / CBC)

The vigil will assemble at Saint John City Hall at 7 p.m. then march to King Square.

Speeches will be given by Sister Margaret Rose Nickerson of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception, a former teacher of the Amero children, and Joe Worden, a researcher who has taken an interest in the case.

Flyers, bracelets and ID kits for children will be distributed, as well as light refreshments.

The goal, Tammy Amera said, is to keep the memory of missing and abducted children alive.

"We just want to bring more awareness — and, hopefully, bring Kim home to us."

Her brother agreed. His dream, he said, is simple.

"To bring Kim home to my mom.

Then maybe we can all just start to heal."

About the Author

Julia Wright

Julia Wright is a reporter based in Saint John. She has been with the CBC since 2016.