Nfld. & Labrador

Missing for a year: Family of Jennifer Hillier-Penney still can't properly grieve

Nov. 30 marks a full year since Jennifer Hillier-Penney disappeared from Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula.

Sister concerned police aren't doing enough; police say they've interviewed more than 100 people

Yvonne Hillier-Decker can't bring herself to pack up her sister's room. Jennifer Hillier-Penney has been missing for almost a year but her family can't move on. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Nov. 30 marks a full year since Jennifer Hillier-Penney went missing from Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula.

Despite a number of searches, there's been no sign of her, and police have ruled her disappearance suspicious.

"Her bedroom is left just like she left it. Her clothes is there," said Yvonne Hillier-Decker, who's angry and upset that she can't properly grieve the loss of her sister.

"You just can't touch it because you got no answers."

Hillier-Penney was last seen Nov. 30, 2016. (RCMP )

Not enough

Hillier-Decker says she believes her sister was murdered, and she says the case is not getting enough attention from the police.

"It's not very good. RNC in St. John's haven't stopped on Cortney Lake's case. They are out all the time," she said. Lake went missing from the metro area in early June.

"The police are in Corner Brook. I know they come up every once in a while, but Jennifer went missing in St. Anthony. I don't think they did enough searching."

Hillier-Penney was last seen at her ex-husband's house on Husky Drive in St. Anthony. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Jennifer Hillier-Penney was last seen at her estranged husband's house in St. Anthony. She had gone from St. Lunaire-Griquet to spend the night with her youngest daughter while her ex was out of town.

Her keys, purse, phone and passport were all left at the house.

Police searched the surrounding land and the harbour last December.

Believe it's a murder

The family took matters into their own hands and searched areas around St. Anthony this past summer.

The town also organized a bingo fundraiser to bring in a vessel in to look for Hillier-Penney's body underwater, near an area called Fishing Point. 

It's hard as the days go by and now we are almost into another Christmas.- Yvonne Hillier-Decker

But the weather didn't co-operate and the boat searched for only a day or so, finding nothing.

CBC requested new information from the RCMP and the major crime unit, but police were not prepared to talk.

Hillier-Decker has no doubt that her sister was murdered.

"Jennifer isn't around anymore. She's been made away with," she said.

Can't move on

But getting by day to day with no closure, and no funeral, is trying.

"You get up and try to put on the best face you can and go along as the day goes by, but every minute of the day Jennifer has never left our minds," said Hillier-Decker, who cried as she talked about her sister.

"It's hard as the days go by and now we are almost into another Christmas."

Hillier-Penney's disappearance has been ruled suspicious by police. (Submitted)

The family plans to mark the anniversary of her disappearance with a balloon release at Fishing Point on Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, Hillier-Decker pleads with RCMP to do more to find her sister.

"We need something," she said. "We need something."

RCMP have interviewed 100 people

The RCMP, meanwhile, said Monday that it's not ready to treat the Hillier-Penney file as a cold case.

"Right now, we're classifying this as a suspicious missing person, and we want the public's help to move us forward in this investigation," said Insp. Bruce Singer, officer in charge of the major crime unit.

We want answers for the family ... and we're appealing to the public.- Insp. Bruce Singer

Singer said police believe someone has information about Hillier's disappearance, but has not come forward.

"We have talked to Jennifer's husband. We have talked to every one of his family members. We have talked to all of her family. We have talked to over 100 people in the community. It's important for us to talk to even more people," he said.

RCMP Insp. Bruce Singer says police have talked to more than 100 people but believe someone has a 'nugget' of information that could help solve the case. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Singer said someone might not even realize that they know something which could be a clue and asked that they "dig down" in an effort to remember.

"Our investigation tends to lead us to believe that there is more information out there," he said.

"We want answers for the family ... and we're appealing to the public to get those little nuggets of information." 

About the Author

Colleen Connors reports on western Newfoundland from CBC's bureau in Corner Brook.