'We've never stopped searching': Family of Jennifer Catcheway continues search 12 years since disappearance
WINNIPEG -- It's been 12 years since Jennifer Catcheway disappeared. As her family gathers for what would have been her 30th birthday, they still hold on to the hope they can bring Jennifer back home.
On Friday, the family got together for a small solemn barbeque in celebration of Jennifer's birthday – the day she went missing.
"Our search continues. We've never ever stopped searching," said Bernice. "It is very emotional. Twelve years have gone by, and yet we still feel the same wound as the day it happened – the same pain, the same anguish is there."
FAMILY SAYS THEY HAVE NEVER STOPPED SEARCHING
Jennifer went missing on June 19, 2008, during her 18th birthday.
Bernice shared in a Facebook post on Friday saying the last time she spoke to her daughter, Jennifer was happy and full of joy.
The Portage la Prairie teenager had been in Grand Rapids with family and was expected to return home to celebrate her birthday.
She was dropped off near the Waterhen junction - Provincial Road 328 and PTH #6, according to the missing person advisory that is still posted on the RCMP website.
RCMP said this is the last time she was seen.
"We can bring Jennifer home this summer," Bernice said. "That has always been our hope and our prayer, to bring her home. She doesn't belong out there – wherever she is."
Bernice said each year family, friends, and community members get together for a barbeque to celebrate Jennifer's birthday and launch the summer search efforts.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be a smaller barbeque for the family only. To help raise funds for the search effort, the family is hosting a silent auction online.
'SOMEONE KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED': RCMP CALLS FOR TIPS
RCMP has ruled the case as a homicide, but no remains have ever been found.
Sgt. Paul Manaigre of the RCMP told CTV News in a written statement that it has been "far too long for her family not to have answers and not to have someone held accountable for her death."
He said investigators continue to work to figure out what happened to Jennifer 12 years ago.
"Things can change very quickly in any investigation; one piece of information can be the tipping point that leads to answers," he said. "We believe someone knows what happened to Jennifer and we continue to ask anyone who may have information to come forward and to contact the RCMP."
A file image taken from previous searches for Jennifer Catcheway. (Source: Beth Macdonell/CTV News)
Bernice said the RCMP has had very little contact with the family and has not provided any updates on the case.
Still, Bernice echoes Manaigre's calls for information.
"That one missing piece of the puzzle can bring Jennifer home," she said. "Whatever information you may think is so insignificant – it may be the missing piece of the puzzle that we need. So I'm asking the public, please, if you have information, if you know anything please get a hold of me."
Bernice said throughout the winter months, the family has received some tips that will direct their search efforts this summer.
She said they are beginning to focus their searches in the north.
Each time they go out to search, Bernice said they go out with the expectation that they will find Jennifer and bring her home.
"We go out there with the intention and the expectation that we are going to find her today, and if it doesn’t happen today, there is still tomorrow."