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Lorena Keepness hates to think about the date her daughter went missing. You could feel the anxiety from her when you ask.
She said it was like it just happened yesterday.
“She was my little Einstein,” she said.
“She was brave, she wasn’t scared, she was so smart, and just loving.”
Keepness often speaks about how smart her daughter was and how much she loved her siblings, including her twin sister Tannis.
“When I was pregnant with her sister, she would come and sit beside me on the couch and rub my belly and kiss my belly and talk to her little sister,” Keepness said.
When her younger sister arrived, Tamra showered the new arrival with love.
“She’d come and lie down, put her head beside her and hug her and that,” she recalled.
“She just loved her little sister.”
Keepness remembers one night, there was a little knock at the door. To her surprise it was Tamra, having walked from her father’s house a few blocks away.
Keepness’s joyful memories quickly subsided when she started to talk about Tamra’s disappearance. You can hear the mother’s pain clearly.
Based on what is known about the night Tamra went missing, all six children were home with Lorena Keepness and her partner, Dean McArthur.
According to media reports, an argument broke out between Keepness and McArthur. He left and ran into Russell Sheepskin, an occasional resident of the house. Together they went out for drinks while Keepness was at home.
After sending the children to bed upstairs, Lorena Keepness went to a friend’s house one block away while her oldest child stayed with the kids.
Lorena Keepness was reported to be drinking at the time, too.
Sheepskin eventually came back to the place to make a meal, during which time he checked on the children at around midnight. Sheepskin said the children were sleeping in the living room.
Before leaving the residence, Sheepskin said McArthur beat him up so badly he was forced to get stitches at a hospital. According to police, that fight broke out at approximately 3 a.m.
Lorena Keepness came home shortly after that and, finding the doors locked, entered the house through a window. She may have noticed Tannis and Summer sleeping on the couch when she came in before going upstairs to sleep herself.
McArthur said he went to his aunt’s house to sleep that early morning.
The next day, according to Keepness, Tamra’s sibling Raine felt Tamra get up and leave the bed.
Ninety minutes later, when no one could find her, the family contacted the police.
What happened next was the largest search in Regina’s history. At the time of her disappearance, police said there were no signs of forced entry or struggle at the home.
In the past decade since Tamra disappeared, the police received more than 1,700 tips and conducted hours of interviews. Since June 2014, there has been a $50,000 reward offered for information about Tamra's whereabouts.
Lorena Keepness doesn't like to talk about the initial police investigation, only saying that much of the focus went on the family. She said that at the time of Tamra’s disappearance, police brought the other children in for questioning.
According to Keepness, an Amber Alert was released only days after Tamra disappeared. A spokesperson with the Regina Police Service indicated at the time that the circumstances of Tamra’s disappearance did not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.
Keepness says it's been about a year since an officer was last in touch about Tamra.
When asked where she thinks Tamra is, Keepness answers with a plea.
“Someone stole her, that’s all I know. Someone stole my child,” she said.
“I try to think of everything from day one, what [and] where. I try to tell the police.”
Despite how long her little “Einstein” has been missing, Keepness remains hopeful.
“I don’t feel she’s gone. I don’t feel she’s gone at all,” she said as she cried.
“ I think she can still come home.”
Keepness says a federal inquiry would be one indicator that anything is being done to look into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.