Officers haunted by unsolved Tamra Keepness disappearance

Many of the Regina police officers who were on duty in 2004 and were part of a massive search effort to find a missing five-year-old girl remain committed to solving the mystery of how Tamra Keepness vanished from her home.

Many of the Regina police officers who were on duty in 2004 and were part of a massive search effort to find a missing five-year-old girl remain committed to solving the mystery of how Tamra Keepness vanished from her home.

"We're still looking for her, we still want her to come home," Cpl. Tracey Dunnigan told CBC News on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the case.

Dunnigan was a patrol officer at the time, one of hundreds of police and volunteers who scoured Regina looking for the little girl with a big smile.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her and wonder where she is," Dunnigan said. "Not only as a police officer but as a mom."

"It was a pretty traumatic experience for everyone involved," Staff Sgt. John Walker added.

Another officer, Staff Sgt. Paul Tate remembers knocking on doors in 2004 as part of the initial search and again years later as police kept working the file looking for clues or witnesses.

To this day, Tate still has a picture of Tamra that was issued to each and every Regina police officer in 2004. He keeps the photo in a metal case that he carries with him while on duty.

"I keep important things in here and this is something that's been important to me for ten years," Tate explained "Keeping pictures like this around just to remind us this never ends until she's found."    

Like other officers, Tate noted how the Keepness investigation grabbed the attention of the entire city.

"This was a unique case," he said. "People's hearts were put into this one. The community [and] the police."

Erica Beaudin, a counsellor with Regina Treaty Status Indian Services, echoed that sentiment.

"Never have I ever been part of such a community effort," Beaudin said. "Such a beautiful effort to bring a little girl [home]. This was the first time that I didn't see race, I didn't see creed, I didn't see religion. I didn't see socio-economic status. I didn't see any of the barriers that usually keep us apart."

Cpl. Dunnigan said the reason everyone was so moved by the Keepness case, including police, is likely because everyone could relate to the situation.

"Police are part of the community," Dunnigan said. "We're moms, we're dads. We're brothers and sisters. We're family members, and so, yeah, it's going to hurt us too."

At the beginning of the month, the Regina Board of Police Commissioners approved doubling a reward, to $50,000, for information that helps to solve the case.

With files from CBC's Bonnie Allen

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