Nova Scotia

Memorial bench unveiled in Stellarton for young murder victim in unsolved case

Kevin Martin was 13 years old when he ran away from home. His body was found six years later along a logging road in Colchester County.

13-year-old Kevin Martin's body was found six years after he ran away from home in 1994

Kevin Martin was 13 when he ran away from his family's home in Stellarton, N.S., on May 19, 1994. A bench was unveiled in his memory on Sunday. (Facebook/Bonnie Thomas)

It was 25 years ago today that Bonnie Thomas's life got turned upside down.

It was the last day she saw her 13-year-old son, Kevin Martin, alive. The day she began asking the questions, "What happened?" And: "Why?"

On May 19, 1994, Kevin ran away from the family's Stellarton, N.S., home. It wasn't the first time he had run away, says Thomas.

She said her son was a "great, great kid" who loved his younger sisters and taught them how to ride a bike and tie their shoes.

But he fell in with what she calls a "bad group of kids" and started skipping school.

When he disappeared, Thomas thought he would come back home, as he had before.

"You just hope and pray that today's going to be that day where he'll come home or he'll get in contact with you," she said.

But as the days dragged into months, then years, she knew this was different.

Six and a half years after he vanished, a logger spotted a sneaker sticking out of the ground along a logging road in Colchester County. 

Kevin's body was discovered there in a shallow grave.

The case was ruled a homicide. Thomas said investigators believed Kevin was murdered shortly after he went missing, but the case was never solved.

Remembering Kevin

Since then, Thomas has found ways to commemorate her son and search for answers.

Every few days, she posts photos of Kevin on her Facebook page or shares a post from Stellarton Police asking for tips on the case.

Thomas has released balloons in Kevin's memory, but said, "What do they do? They go up to the sky and they don't really represent anything."

She has been searching for a more permanent, public reminder of her son.

We still struggle from day to day with it, knowing that he's not with us.- Bonnie Thomas, Kevin Martin's mother

On Sunday, 25 years to the day after Kevin's disappearance, a bench in his memory was unveiled in Stellarton on North Foord Street near a public gazebo.

Although Thomas now lives on P.E.I., she still returns to Stellarton. She said the bench will be a tangible reminder of "a little boy that's life was taken so young."

"We'll have actually have a place to be able to sit and just think about him," she said.

Thomas said it's still hard to deal with the loss of her son.

"It's just sad because he has nieces and nephews now that'll never get to see him and meet him and know what kind of an uncle that he would have been," she said. "We still struggle from day to day with it, knowing that he's not with us."

About the Author

Frances Willick is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. Please contact her with feedback, story ideas or tips at frances.willick@cbc.ca