Regina girl still missing after 5 years
Tamra Keepness was last seen by her mother on July 5, 2004
This weekend marks a grim anniversary for the family of Tamra Jewel Keepness — it has been five agonizing years since the little girl disappeared from her Regina home.
It was on the night of July 5, 2004, that Tamra's mother, Lorena Keepness, last saw the five-year-old with the black hair and the big smile at their home on the 1800 block of Ottawa Street in Regina's core area.
The next day, she was reported missing. Despite the largest search effort the city has ever seen, involving the police, the province, volunteers and her family, she hasn't been found.
Ellen Keewatin, whose nephew Troy Keepness is Tamra's father, says she plans to keep searching. As recently as last week, she and her family pursued a new tip, she said.
"We are still looking in places and meeting with investigators," Keewatin said.
"I think sometimes we know a little more than the police because the moccasin telegraph is quite accurate and people tell us things they don't share with the police."
Police have received more than 1,500 calls on the case over the past five years.
However, they are still lacking information about what happened on the crucial night, including details about the comings and goings of Lorena Keepness, boyfriend Doug McArthur and family friend Russell Sheepskin.
"We know that there are people who have pieces of information that would be helpful and we would ask that they come forward and report those to us," Regina police Supt. Rick Bourassa said.
The file remains open, although it has been taken over by the police service's historical case unit.
The Regina Board of Police Commissioners recently approved the extension of a $25,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of Tamra's whereabouts. People with information are asked to call the city police at (306) 777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Bourassa said he hopes the anniversary of the girl's disappearance will encourage people to come forward.
The years since Tamra disappeared have not always been kind to members of the family. Lorena Keepness has moved frequently, having been evicted from several homes in Regina.
Tamra's siblings are in foster care. Her father, Troy Keepness, was recently released from jail on other matters.
He told CBC News he doesn't want to keep dwelling on his daughter's disappearance, but he needs to know if she's alive or dead.
The whole family hopes there will be closure soon, Keewatin said.
A barbecue to remember Tamra and create more awareness around her disappearance is being held in Regina on Sunday. It begins at 1 p.m. at the Core Community Park in Regina, in the same neighbourhood where she vanished.