Purse from unsolved London, Ont. murder returned 33 years later

The purse of Donna Awcock, 17, was returned to her sister 33 years after she was killed in London, Ont.

Sister questions why police took so long to return the purse

Tammy Dennett holding her sister's purse 33 years after she was murdered. (Kerry McKee/CBC)

A purse that belonged to a murder victim has been returned to her sister after 33 years of it being in police custody.

Donna Awcock was 17 when she was beaten and sexually assaulted after babysitting for a neighbour in October 1983. 

Tammy Dennett says her sister Donna didn't have her purse the night she was murdered, but police took it anyway. She never thought they'd keep it for 33 years.

"Oh my God, the fight was just unbelievable," said Dennett. "I could see them, you know, wanting to go through her purse, you know, [for] whatever in there, to give them any clues, but to hold onto it all these years for evidence? For what?"

She opens a brown paper bag and pulls out her sister's purse from 1983. Pinned on the outside is a Pepsi button that reads 'Trust your own taste.'

Inside the purse are hand written notes, a small corsage and about 20 pictures of the teen with friends and family.

Dennett wishes she would have had those family pictures of her sister all these years.

"They've had years and years and years to do what they want with it. There's no explanation for me as to why they'd keep it all these years," she said.

Police could offer little by way of explanation.

Donna Awcock was murdered October 1983.

"There's a number of things we just can't talk about like investigative techniques," said Constable Kevin Martin with the OPP. "And before any property is returned we need to ensure that returning it doesn't compromise the investigation."

Martin points out the investigation is still ongoing.

Police continue to look for clues and have offered a $50,000 reward. That keeps Dennett hopeful that one day her sister's killer will be caught.

"I pray to God we get that day," she said.

With files from Kerry McKee