From Where I Sit – Cold Cases

Each night this week, CTV Edmonton is airing a special assignment by David Ewasuk on some of Edmonton’s unsolved murders.

We’ve all seen episodes of Cold Case and other prime-time dramas that show fictional detectives reopening murder cases that have gone cold. Inevitably there’s a grizzled old cop who’s spent the last 10 or 20 years having this mystery gnaw at his gut.

The CSI series of television shows enjoy millions of viewers each week and focus on some of the tools in the arsenal of crime fighters. Breakthroughs in technology and forensic science like DNA matches and offender registries are starting to pay dividends on TV and in real life.

Millions are riveted to these often sensational, gruesome, bloody, perverted crimes. It’s easy to get seduced by the special effects and star quality of the players.

What’s not so easy is watching the six o?clock news, knowing full well that this is all real. The bloodshed is real. The disbelieving family and friends are real. The police officers, crime scene tape, and memorials are all real.

So too are the real costs of investigating, prosecuting, incarcerating. But most tragic of all is the loss of human potential. As onlookers, many of us shake our heads and wonder why another young life is lost through crime.

As Ewasuk brings these stories back into the spotlight and back to our consciousness I’m surprised that the names and circumstances come flooding back to me. I remember the details of the horrific death of Shernell Pierre. She was a health care worker shot at close range and set ablaze in her car just blocks from the hospital where she worked. The update reassures us that detectives have a suspect and are building the case against him.

I remember the details of Dylan’s death: the seemingly senseless, unprovoked stabbing on Whyte Avenue; the distraught family asking for the public’s help. Erin Tilley was the victim of a drive-by shooting after a rave at the West Edmonton Mall. There are people who know something but refuse to co-operate. How bright is that?

I welcome the attention these crimes are getting. Ideally it will bring some calls to Crime Stoppers. For sure it will bring comfort and validation to the survivors who cannot forget their loss. I hope this attention results in charges and convictions. I hope it brings closure for grieving families.

I want to believe that you can run but you can’t hide, that criminals get punished, that we are safe in our homes and cars and lives. I want to believe that anyone with information has the scruples and conscience and courage to do the right thing. I want to believe that our lives haven’t deteriorated into a weekly television drama.

In the meantime, the best we can do is say another prayer for these lost souls and their loved ones, from where I sit.