Two women sit on a couch, the mother’s hand resting on her daughter’s leg, both fighting back tears, sometimes losing the battle, as they tell their story.
The pain is palpable. Time does not seem to have eased their suffering.
Roxana Wilson’s six-year-old daughter Adriane was brutally raped and murdered 26 years ago in Fort Rupert. The daughter sitting beside her, Jacquita White, was just four years old when the murder happened. Although her family did not know it until several years later, Jacquita saw her sister’s death.
The women are speaking to a reporter at the Gazette, remembering details they would give anything to forget, because the man who was found guilty of the crime is up for parole in April.
His potential release has brought emotional scars and wounds to the surface for these two women, their families and friends.
“If he were to be released, I wouldn’t rest for fear another family would be put at risk,” said Roxana.
As a result of these fears, Roxana plans to attend the parole board hearing in April and read a victim’s impact statement. She has also started a petition locally to keep the man in prison.
Adriane’s death made national news; not only because of the shocking nature of the crime, but because the accused was 15 years old.
On June 3, 1989, Roxana’s daughter Adriane Wadhams, who had been visiting her paternal grandfather in Fort Rupert, went to the beach with her sister Jacquita to play.
Adriane never came back.
When Adriane failed to return, she was reported missing.
On June 4, Port Hardy RCMP, fire department personnel and volunteers conducted a search.
The tide was way out, Roxana remembers and there were so many people searching, and so many flashlights, “it looked like a city out there.”
Roxana was looking for Adriane as well and was walking up a path in the dark when she tripped. She was encouraged to leave and go find a flashlight.
After four hours Adriane’s body was found in a wooded area across from Beaver Harbour Mobile Home Park just outside Fort Rupert. She was a just short distance from the spot where Roxana had tripped.
Jason Kennedy, who was 15 at the time, was arrested and charged with murder. The case was transferred to adult court, a decision that was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Appeal, where it was upheld.
Kennedy was found guilty of First Degree murder on May 29, 1992 and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for eight years.
For six weeks, Roxana had to sit in the courtroom hearing the details of how her daughter died.
“To relive that over and over again throughout the court process, it was very hard.
“I close my eyes and it’s just like yesterday. It was just death in our house for years,” Roxana said.
Jacquita and her other children have all suffered.
Her son who was seven at the time, blamed himself for not protecting his little sister and wished that it had been him that had died instead.
“He has never been the same boy,” said Roxana.
Another daughter could not bear to stay with her family any more and went to live with Roxana’s parents in Alert Bay.
Roxana recalls “waking up in the night to (Jacquita’s) bloodcurdling screams and uncontrollable crying.”
When Jacquita was seven, the family moved to a new home and Roxana commented how much Adriane would have loved it.
Jacquita broke down at that point and disclosed to her parents the details of what had happened to her sister that night at the hands of her murderer. She had witnessed everything.
Now that he has served his quarter of a century sentence, Kennedy is up for parole.
Since they were advised about Kennedy’s parole hearing, “I wake up in tears,” says Jacquita.
“I don’t ever wish this upon anybody, not even my worst enemy,” Jacquita said.
“I am really battling with my emotions,” said Jacquita, adding she has her own two-year-old daughter and unborn child to consider right now.
Roxana admits she tries to be strong in front of her children and grandchild, but sometimes she goes in the shower, or turns up her gospel music, and cries. She screams.
Despite how much it pains her to relive the events of 26 years ago again, Roxana plans on attending the hearing in Aggasiz and reading her impact statement “to let the parole board know how it has impacted my life and my family’s life.”
This is the second time Roxana has written an impact statement.
She was notified that Kennedy was scheduled for a parole hearing in 2009, but he waived the right to appear at that time, she said. She prepared a victim impact statement in preparation for that hearing.
“I was really broken, when I did this one,” she said, holding the neatly-handwritten document in her hands.
Since then, “I’ve come a long way in the healing process,” but the anniversary of the death, the day Kennedy was sentenced, Christmas and Adriane’s birthday “are still really, really hard.”
“My daughter’s death was so brutal,” said Roxana.
“I fear for our community, our children, wherever he resides if he were to get out of jail.”
Other individuals may submit impact statements to the parole board, said Roxana, and the Port Hardy RCMP Victim Services is available to help people write them.
The petition will be available to sign at the local band offices.
There are plans to set up a table at the Thunderbird Mall in Port Hardy to collect signatures as well.
(Editor’s Note: Roxana Wilson received a call from the parole board Tuesday morning saying that Kennedy had waived his rights again until March of 2017. “I am so relieved.”