The OPP say the murder of Rachel Russell over a decade ago is not a cold case.
“I think it’s important for the public to recognize that this is not a case that has been boxed up and put away,” said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon. “This is an investigation that is active.”
The body of the 28-year-old Cobourg woman was found near rail tracks in Cobourg on Nov. 12, 2007. Police say she died of blunt force trauma and was likely killed a couple of weeks before her body was found.
The family for years remained relatively quiet but as the 10th anniversary of the discovery approaches, they’re raising awareness about the unsolved crime. Russell’s case was also added to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
“We just want people to realize that there was a murder in the community,” said Cindy Russell, a sister of Rachel.
“A lot of people have forgotten or have moved into the area and didn’t know this happened.”
An arrest was made in 2008 but charges were later dropped by the Crown. That suspect — Wayne Ryman — was ruled out. Since then police say their probe is ongoing.
“It’s about trying to bring resolution to this case and that’s what’s important to this family,” said Leon.
Two circumstances complicate the case: Russell’s body was discovered in a spot often frequented by drug dealers and users. Family say Russell — a mother of one — had become addicted to painkillers after an operation for a burst appendix.
As well, police believe she was killed in another location in late October.
An OPP-issued $50,000 reward still remains in effect for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person(s) responsible.
“We know that someone out there has information that has the potential to turn the corner on this investigation,” said Leon. “We’re hopeful that that person steps up, reaches out and contacts the police or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous.”
Family are organizing a fundraiser on Nov. 17 at the Cobourg Legion to honour Russell and to support the Northumberland United Way and the Anishnaabe Kwewag Gamig Women’s Shelter’s Christmas hamper program in nearby Alderville First Nation.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do the event,” said Russell’s sister Shelley.