She enters a meeting room of the Kamloops RCMP detachment, accompanied by another woman and Cpl. Cheryl Bush.
Jackie White sits down. Almost a dozen reporters and photographers from the Kamloops media are waiting for her, gathered around the table and waiting quietly for her words.
They want to be respectful, but they also have so many questions. They wait.
White wears a nickel-sized yellow ribbon of remembrance pinned on her black dress on the left, near her heart.
She holds a piece of paper and begins with a slight quaver in her voice. Her face is serious, her brown eyes close to tearing up.
This is not something she wants to do; it’s probably not something she ever thought she’d have to do.
It’s something she’s doing because, as the mother of Sherri McLaughlin, who disappeared at the age of 20 on Sept. 19, 1993, she needs to do.
She faces the microphones, the cameras, the notebooks, the questions, because she needs an answer. Sherri’s son Stephen, who was one year old when she disappeared, needs an answer. Sherri’s brother James needs an answer.
“Twenty years is a long time to wait for someone to come forward,” White says.
“I hope — there’s still someone out there that knows.”
McLaughlin left her parents’ home on Schubert Drive at 3 a.m., heading west to visit her ex-boyfriend. Her backpack and bike were found on the side of Parkcrest Avenue, one of the bike tires bent beyond use.
Police put out calls for clues and chased every lead. Eventually, they came up with a suspect car, a blue Pontiac Grand Am with minute paint chips on its undercarriage that were forensically matched to McLaughlin's bicycle.
The car also had gouge marks on the underside that matched a sprocket on the bike.
In 2009, police suggested they had a suspect in the case. The name of Daniel Robert Dow, a dangerous offender with a history of violence and sexual assault, was mentioned as having a potential link to McLaughlin’s case.
But on Thursday, White said she wouldn’t comment on suspects or the police investigation.
“First and foremost we have to let police do their job. I will not speak of any suspects they have,” she said.
“One thing I do know is they have a car. It was involved and it hit my daughter’s bike.”
Almost every day, White passes the spot on Parkcrest where her only daughter disappeared. Sometimes she leaves flowers or tidies up. But the residents who live around there treat the memorial with respect and keep it neat.
Although White couldn’t protect Sherri from whoever took her, she will protect the rest of her family.
She appeals for privacy, especially at this time, and notes that Stephen never really knew his mother. White raised him as her own son. He is concerned about the impact that Sherri’s disappearance has had on her, too.
“He sees the pain,” White says.
And again, she appeals for help to end the pain, to give the family closure, to solve the mystery of what happened to Sherri.
“Please don’t let this case die out. It was not solved. It is not solved,” she says.
“We need answers. We need closure. Twenty years is a long time. I love my daughter and I want answers. I want to put her to rest.
“Someone has to know.”