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Mother of Samantha Higgins desperate for justice

  • "I just want everyone to remember Sam. I don't want her to be forgotten," - Vanessa Higgins.
WATCH ABOVE: Vanessa Higgins speaks out about the slow court proceedings and legal battles with her in-laws after her daughter, Samantha Higgins, was found murdered. Global's Kelly Greig reports.

MONTREAL – Vanessa Higgins sits at her kitchen table, flipping through a scrapbook.

On each page: a different memory of the nightmare she lived through last summer.

She’s the mother of Samantha Higgins, 22, who went missing in July 2015.

Vanessa Higgins' daughter Samantha was found murdered on Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Vanessa Higgins’ daughter Samantha was found murdered on Thursday, July 9, 2015. Martin Hazel/Global News

Her body was found shortly after, dismembered and stuffed in a garbage bag in Hinchinbrooke in the Châteauguay Valley.

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Nick Fontanelli, Samamtha’s fiancé and father of her two children, was arrested and charged with her murder.

READ MORE: Fiancé charged with first-degree murder of Samantha Higgins

Vanessa keeps the scrapbook so her grandchildren, four-year-old Anna and nine-month-old Lorenzo, will one day know what happened to their mother.

“It’s important that they know the truth,” she told Global News.

“They’ll be able to go through this and see the outpouring and amount of love that was there for Sam.”

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Part of Samantha’s ashes sit in an urn in the family’s living room.

WATCH: Family remembers Samantha Higgins

Vanessa told Global News she’s worried about what her grandchildren will hear from the Fontanelli side.

The two families have been locked in legal battles over possession of Samantha’s belongings and growing bills since Fontanelli was arrested.

READ MORE: Community remembers murdered Lasalle mother

Seeing her daughter’s accused killer in court is agony for Vanessa, but she said she can’t believe how slowly the justice system is taking at every court date.

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“I haven’t missed any hearings. The one that just happened in January, I almost didn’t go,” she said.

“It’s getting harder and harder with nothing moving.”

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EXTENDED INTERVIEW: Vanessa Higgins remembers her daughter

EXTENDED INTERVIEW: Vanessa Higgins on her daughter
EXTENDED INTERVIEW: Vanessa Higgins on her daughter

Fontanelli is still looking for a lawyer.

At his first court appearance, a crowd showed up wearing pink shirts with ‘Justice for Samantha’ written across the back.

READ MORE: Body found in river near Hinchinbrooke identified as Lasalle mother

That crowd has dwindled to her closest friends and family.

“I just want everyone to remember Sam. I don’t want her to be forgotten,” Vanessa told Global News.

“[When] we started court, there were 30-40 of us. We’re down to eight now.”
A mural on the bridge where Samantha Higgins was found, Tuesday, January 19, 2016.
A mural on the bridge where Samantha Higgins was found, Tuesday, January 19, 2016. Vanessa Higgins
A mural on the bridge where Samantha Higgins was found, Tuesday, January 19, 2016.
A mural on the bridge where Samantha Higgins was found, Tuesday, January 19, 2016. Vanessa Higgins

The bridge in Hinchinbrooke, Quebec where part of her daughter was located, used to give Vanessa nightmares.

Now, it’s become a place of solace to remember her by.

A family friend took it upon himself to paint a tribute to Samantha underneath the bridge.

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READ MORE: Alleged killer Nick Fontanelli back in court

Her name, year of birth and death, are written just meters away from where she was found.

The Higgins family now wants to name the bridge after her.

“I drive out there every month,” said Higgins.

“We haven’t gone yet this month, but normally I try to go around the anniversary of her death. I drive out there and stay for about 10 to 15 minutes and I always feel better when I go.”

Fontenelli’s next court date is on Feb. 8.