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On July 23, 1996, 14-year-old Amanda Cook and her family decided to go to the fair.
Amanda, her dad, her brother and her cousin made the 15-minute drive from Waywayseecappo First Nation to the Harvest Festival Fair in Rossburn, Man.
Cook’s dad stayed in the bleachers to watch the races during the day, and Amanda came by periodically to get money. The last time he saw his daughter alive was about 6:30 or 7 p.m.
Four days later, her beaten and partially clothed body was found in a wooded area near the fairgrounds.
An autopsy revealed she died from multiple blows to the head with a blunt object.
Nearly 20 years later, her mom, Mary Cook, is still waiting for justice. Her father died four years ago.
“Find the killer, you know? Investigate until you find the person who killed her. That’s all there is,” said Mary.
“The closure for us all this is all we need.”
Several months later, RCMP charged Clayton George Mentuck with second-degree murder.
Mentuck’s first trial ended in a stay. His second, in 1998, ended in a hung jury.
In Mentuck’s final trial in 2000, a judge found him not guilty of seconddegree murder.
Mentuck had written a confession letter to Amanda’s parents after his arrest in 1996, but it was deemed unreliable and inadmissible in court.
RCMP eventually handed the letter over to Mary Cook.
“I still have it. I never showed it to nobody,” she said.
“I just keep it hidden with the rest of the papers I have with everything. I have a suitcase full of everything.”
Mary said she hasn’t heard from RCMP about her daughter’s case since Mentuck acquitted in September 2000.
She still thinks about her daughter regularly and sees Mentuck in the community often.
“I see [Mentuck] out in the bingos all the time,” said Mary.
“[He] stares right at me. He just stares at me.”
Mary wants to see an inquiry into murdered and missing women so someone is paying attention to what
happened to her daughter and other girls like her.
“You just don’t shove them in a damn shelf,” she said.
“We have to investigate. We have to solve problems.”
CBC News continues to investigate missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada, looking at the unsolved cases and telling the stories of the families and communities.