Sherri McLaughlin’s family will gather quietly at a memorial site today on Parkcrest Avenue, as they’ve done for each of the past 15 years.
But unlike recent years past, when there was scant information from police about the young woman’s disappearance from a Brocklehurst street, Thursday marked the biggest break in information since she disappeared in 1993.
“Everything’s been stirred up again,” said her brother James, who has been the public face of the family for almost two decades.
“There’s hope we’ll get answers. We’ve already got answers,” James said of the stunning revelation by RCMP Thursday. “But we haven’t found Sherri.”
Only two years ago the lead investigator, Staff Sgt. Garry Kerr, said publicly “there’s been nothing. We have zip.”
Now, police say they know the killer is a convicted sex offender who is behind bars and classified as a dangerous offender.
The family will meet Saturday on the anniversary of Sherri’s disappearance at Parkcrest Avenue where her crumpled bike was discovered. Forensic analysts have matched paint from the bike to a car once owned by the sex offender.
The anniversary is always difficult for the family, including Sherri’s son, Stephen, now 17, as well as mother, Jackie, who is currently in hospital. Adding to the pain of the anniversary is the loss of Jackie White’s mother three weeks ago.
For the first three years large groups of volunteers and well wishers gathered at the memorial site. James said it became more appropriate over time that the anniversary become a quiet moment shared among the McLaughlin family.
“We’ve got mixed emotions,” James said of the impact of the week on the family.
“I hope and pray we’ll find the answers we need. A part of me is bracing for possibility we may never know. (But) we already know more than I thought we would.”
That was the message police emphasized at the press conference Thursday — a final answer for the family.
“They want to bring their girl home.”