“I know who you are” cop tells suspect in Sherri McLaughlin slaying
By Salim Jiwa
KAMLOOPS – RCMP have detailed the astonishing scientific work that led them to a suspect in the disappearance of Sherri McLaughlin 16 years ago.
Police said painstaking examinations of paint chips, glue and other items on Sherri’s bike and a car seized for examination led them to a predatory sex maniac who is jailed indefinitely as a dangerous offender.
Now, all they would like is for the man to put the Sherri’s family at ease by giving them information about how and where he disposed of the body. But cops say the man is heartless and will not talk about the case even though he is unlikely to ever come out of prison.
“I have been a member of the RCMP for 28 years. In that time I have investigated thousands of offences, but I have lived with this case in my heart for 16 years, and we are not about to let it go,” said Staff-Sgt. Garry Kerr, the lead investigator on the case.
McLaughlin, disappeared on September 16, 1993. At the time of her disappearance Sherri left home on her bike to ride to her boyfriend’s house. She never arrived.
A search was quickly launched, and her bike and backpack were found on the side of the road on Parkcrest Avenue. The bike had clearly been driven over by a car, police said.
“A full scale RCMP investigation began that initially involved about 25 investigators. Despite their best efforts, they couldn’t find her. The evidence was clear that she had been abducted after being intentionally struck by a vehicle, and then murdered,” said a detailed statement in which police have appealed directly to the man, hoping that he finds comfort in telling the truth.
“ She had just turned 20 years old, and left behind a one year old baby boy and her loving family and friends,” police said.
Serious Crimes investigators from the Kamloops RCMP continued to aggressively pursue the case, but despite about 250 tips from the public, the case eventually grew cold.
Investigators got their first big break after an extensive file review surfaced the name of a sex offender who was in custody for violent predatory sex offences on Vancouver Island.
Further investigation revealed that this male had family members living in Kamloops which in a sense connected him to the city.
Inquiries were discreetly made about numerous aspects of the male’s life, said Kerr.
“Investigators learned that the male was in Kamloops on the day Sherri was last seen, and he left town that night driving his blue Pontiac Grand Am. Of note was the fact that a few days after Sherri disappeared, he made an insurance claim to replace a broken window on his car,” he said.
A short time later, he transferred the ownership of his car into his wife’s name.
Investigators tracked down the male’s car and seized it.
A comprehensive examination by RCMP Forensic Identification investigators was conducted on the car that revealed tiny paint chips on the undercarriage.
Forensic examination was conducted and paint was conclusively determined to be from Sherri’s bike.
In addition, scrapes on the bottom of the gas tank were forensically matched with the front sprocket of Sherri’s bike.
Sleuths spotted the outline of a small yet very old adhesive sticker on the front bumper of the car. One of the investigators recalled that a plastic deer whistle was found on the roadway at the original crime scene.
At the time, it was unknown if the deer whistle was linked to Sherri’s disappearance, or if it had fallen off another car at some point in the past.
The deer whistle was forensically analyzed in relation to the adhesive sticker found on the bumper of the car. There was a confirmed match.
The deer whistle found on the road at the location where Sherri’s bike was found was positively identified as being broken off the suspect’s vehicle.
Despite all the scientific conclusion, police have been told by crown counsel they don’t have a case that will lead to conviction.
“Despite this evidence, there has so far been insufficient evidence to establish a substantial likelihood of conviction. The suspect has been in custody in Abbotsford for over ten years,” said Kerr.
“ He has been declared a dangerous offender for committing violent predatory sexual offences and is currently serving an indeterminate sentence. He may never get out of jail. So far, he has refused to cooperate in any way with the investigation and will not speak with investigators,” said Kerr.
Kerr emphasized that at this point in the investigation RCMP investigators are not looking for additional information from the public, but are appealing directly to the killer.
“We aren’t looking for any suspects, because we know who is responsible. I am making a personal appeal to that person. You know who you are, and I know who you are.” said Kerr. “I am appealing to you now to provide us with the location of Sherri’s remains so she can be brought back home.”
“You have taken Sherri from her family, but if there is any grain of humanity in you, and I believe there is, do the right thing and give her back to her family. Tell us where she is so she can be brought home.”