Four years on, Tamra Keepness mystery remains unsolved
Police continue to investigate disappearance of 5-year-old
It has been four years since a little girl with black hair and a sweet smile disappeared from her inner city Regina home, setting off an exhaustive, frustrating search that continues to this day.
It was on the evening of July 5, 2004, that five-year-old Tamra Keepness was last seen by her mother at their home on the 1800 block of Ottawa Street. The next day, she was gone without a trace.
Four years later, after pursuing more than 1,500 tips and following leads that took them to every province from B.C. to Ontario, police say they are no closer to finding Tamra.
But police, people in the community and First Nations leaders — Tamra was a member of the White Bear First Nation — say they remain dedicated to finding out what happened to the child.
On a recent summer morning on the street where she lived, all was quiet.
Four faded posters in the window of Don Simpson's barbershop served as silent reminders of the mystery that continues to haunt Regina's core community.
"I believe there is a chance that little girl is still alive. I believe there is a very good chance," Simpson said. "And if those pictures in the window can jar someone's memory, I'd feel guilty taking them out of the window until this is solved."
Four years ago, as the story hit newsstands and TV broadcasts across Canada, the gritty neighbourhood afflicted by poverty and social problems that Tamra lived in was put under a magnifying glass.
Also receiving intense attention from the media and the police were the three adults who were known to be at Tamra's home around the time she disappeared: Tamra's mother Lorena Keepness, her stepfather Dean McArthur and a family friend, Russell Sheepskin.
Police said at the time they were not getting all the information they needed from adults who might be able to shed light on the case.
Four years later, Regina city police say they're stepping up their investigation.
In August, seven officers will be assigned to work exclusively on the case, according to Regina police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich.
"We are committed to this investigation and we are going to continue to pursue every avenue of this investigation and every clue, and every follow-up and every lead until we know what happened to Tamra Keepness," Popowich said.
The police are continuing a $25,000 reward for any information leading to Tamra's whereabouts.