Nfld. & Labrador

Police allowed to keep possible evidence in Jennifer Hillier-Penney case

A judge granted the Crown's request on Thursday to allow police to keep items they seized in days following the disappearance of Jennifer Hillier-Penney.
After Jennifer Lynn Hillier-Penney's disappearance, police seized numerous items in their investigation, and are now able to hang onto those items until late 2019. (RCMP )

The RCMP can continue holding onto potential evidence in the disappearance of Jennifer Hillier-Penney for another year, after a western Newfoundland judge granted the Crown's request on Thursday. 

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Justice George Murphy ruled the Crown and RCMP could keep numerous seized items until Dec. 15, 2019, the latest in a series of such extensions that have been granted since the police investigation into what happened to Hillier-Penney began.

Members of Hillier-Penney's family, who made the 470-km trek overnight from St. Anthony for the brief court appearance in Corner Brook, welcomed the outcome.

"It's wonderful news. Hopefully by then, they'll have someone served justice," said sister Yvonne Hillier in the courthouse parking lot, standing by a car plastered in posters reading "Justice for Jennifer."

Relatives of Jennifer Hillier-Penney drove from St. Anthony for the court proceedings in Corner Brook, their car plastered in posters of their missing family member. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

"We came in for support for Jennifer."

Hillier-Penney was last seen on Nov. 30, 2016. She vanished without a trace from the St. Anthony home of her estranged husband, Dean Penney.

No charges have been laid, although Const. Christopher Pittman characterized the RCMP investigation as "active and ongoing on a daily basis," in a sworn affidavit filed in court.

Investigation continues

The items in question — which are only identified by alphanumeric tags — were seized from three locations: a cabin used by Hillier-Penney and her estranged husband, a vehicle, as well as the St. Anthony home the couple had once shared, and where Dean Penney has continued to live.

Some of those items have been sent for forensic testing, while others are waiting to be sent. In court documents, the Crown characterized the seized items as "potentially reliable real evidence" in the investigation.

For Hillier-Penney's family, the continuing police work is a source of hope.

"I'm hoping that they are going to come forward with answers, very soon," said Yvonne Hillier.

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With files from Colleen Connors