Mother of slain girl hopes for justice 36 years later

 
 
 

Kathryn-Mary Herbert was murdered in Matsqui in 1975 and the case is still unsolved. This is a photo her aged 11 (her age when she disappeared).

Photograph by: Handout, Submitted

It’s been over 36 years since her daughter’s unsolved murder, but Chilliwack’s Shari Greer still grieves — and refuses to give up hope.

On Thursday, Greer will make another appeal to the public to help find the killer of her 11-year-old daughter Kathryn-Mary Herbert, and offer a reward for the 1975 homicide: one of B.C.’s most infamous cold case files.

Greer has done everything a mother would do after losing a child.

She reported Kathryn-Mary missing the same September night in 1975 her daughter was expected to return home from a friend’s house.

She has kept up with a police investigation that went cold decades ago, even accusing police of bungling the case at times.

She has turned to private detectives, politicians and the media.

When reached by The Province at her Chilliwack home Wednesday afternoon, Greer said she still doesn’t know what she’ll say when the cameras are on her Thursday afternoon at RCMP headquarters in Vancouver.

“I don’t know what to say, darling,” she said in a hushed, motherly tone. “Honey, I want the focus on my daughter, not on anything else,” said Greer, warmly.

Greer said she has been instructed by the RCMP to wait until Thursday before bringing her daughter’s cold case back onto the front burner.

Two rewards totalling $2,000 were also offered in November 1975.

On Sept. 24, 1975, Kathryn-Mary disappeared near her Matsui First Nation home — only to be found murdered two months later by a group of band members preparing an ancient burial rite.

An autopsy of the freckle-faced, brown curly-haired girl revealed a fractured skull and broken jaw.

A hunt for Kathryn-Mary’s killer turned up suspects, but no arrests were made. A convicted rapist who was dating a girl living in Greer’s house in 1975 was a suspect. He has since raped again, but is now a free man.

Less than a year after Kathryn-Mary was found, another girl — Theresa Hildebrandt of Matsqui — also disappeared.

Hildebrandt’s body was found four years later, also killed by a blow to the head and buried in a shallow grave.

The tragic story of Greer’s life doesn’t end with the loss of her daughter.

In 1974, her nine-year-old son Donnie drowned in a gravel pit.

In 1983, her son Butch, 21, committed suicide.

“He killed himself because he felt he’d failed his sister. He couldn’t solve her murder,” she told The Province in 2004.

Greer dedicated a web page to her three dead children, and began a “Garden of Tears” at her Chilliwack home in May 2003 as a memorial for her kids and others who have suffered the same unjust fate.

People have come as far as Australia to paint stones and dedicate them to lost loved ones.

Greer has dedicated her life to finding Kathryn-Mary’s killer, though she didn’t expect the hunt to last nearly four decades.

She ends a Nov. 23, 1975, poem she penned one week after her daughter’s body was found with the following lines:

“No matter what or who he is,

Nor, how much time has past (sic)

The Police will surely catch him

The man — who killed my Kath.”

mraptis@theprovince.com

twitter.com/mike_raptis

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Comment by Sara Huizenga on April 28, 2012 at 7:17pm

She's literally been searching for justice for my entire lifetime - :'(

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