Monday, 19 November 2012

40 years later family of slain woman still searches for answers

I knew I was taking on a risky task when I pitched my IPP. I proposed to write a book about four cold cases in Manitoba by talking to people whose loved ones had been murdered and writing stories based on those interviews. On the advice of Duncan the book became a blog but the premise remains the same.

Getting people to talk to me has been far more difficult than I had ever imagined and my first interview didn't happen until the Sunday that just passed. Two more interviews are set to happen in December but it has been more than difficult to have to call these families and ask them if they would like to talk to a total stranger about their unimaginable tragedy.

I have had times where I felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew, but that changed on Sunday. I interviewed Sherry Winterburn, whose great-aunt Edith Smallpiece was murdered way back in 1973 in her own apartment building. Her body was found five days later and the killer has never been caught.

Sherry Winterburn holds up a picture of Edith Smallpiece

I arrived at Winterburn's apartment about as nervous as I have ever been for any interview and when I got in the door, I was told Winterburns' parents were there and had driven nine hours from Ontario because they wanted to be part of the interview.

I may have been nervous for about five minutes but it quickly passed as this family poured out the story of their beloved aunt to me. By the time the interview was over we had talked for about two and a half hours. At times they cried and other times they laughed while reminiscing about Edith Smallpiece.There were other times when the family just talked to each other and I listened, but I never felt like I was not part of the conversation.
Sherry Winterburn with her parents Ina and Bill
What amazes me the most was that this February the murder will have happened forty years ago, but this family has never given up on trying to find the killer. Sherry Winterburn was 13 years old when it happened but remembers details like it was yesterday. The family still hopes for a resolution and that is why the parents drove nine hours to talk to me. I may just be a journalism student but they still want any publicity they can get because it still haunts them that there are people out there that may have the answers they are searching for.

The family still cherishes pictures of Edith

I will only put one quote in this blog post because the quotes will be in the story when my IPP blog is up and running, but Winterburn has a message for anyone who may have the answers this family has been seeking for 40 long years.

"The word man up comes to mind," said Winterburn. "If you did it admit it. If your to old to be prosecuted so be it but at least we can maybe find out why and get some answers."