It’s been seven years since Jolene Cote‘s body was found in her Parkland County home, and her friends and family are still holding out hope for a break in the case.
Cote’s sisters and mother organized an inaugural memorial walk on Saturday, starting at Greystone Centennial School in Spruce Grove. The 36-year-old teacher taught there before her death.
“Our goals today are to promote awareness that there has not been justice served and as well to honour Jolene’s memory and the life she lived,” explained her mom, Dorothy Commandeur.
A number of Cote’s former students — who were in grade nine at the time of her 2011 murder — returned to show their respects.
“As a group we all wanted to come and support Jolene’s family during this difficult time and help keep her memory alive,” McKenzie Johnson said.
So much time has passed, Cote’s former students have now graduated and are in their early twenties now.
In addition to the dozens of family, friends, teammates and former students at the walk, a pair of local RCMP officers also came out.
“We want to show our support for the family. They’ve experienced a huge tragedy. Jolene Cote was an integral part of our community,” Const. Shelley Nasheim said.
Cote was last seen alive on Oct. 12, 2011. She played a soccer game at the Edmonton West Soccer Centre and then went to buy a few things at the Walmart on Stony Plain Road at around 10:40 p.m.
The mother of two was captured on surveillance video leaving the store that night. It was the last time anyone saw her alive.
The next morning, her husband Michael Cote found her body in the couple’s home northeast of Spruce Grove.
“This was not a random, interrupted crime in progress,” Nasheim said.
“This was a targeted event and we want to get answers for the family. We need all the help we can get.”
Cote’s husband was not at Saturday’s memorial walk.
The community has been supporting Cote’s family since day one. Many also come out to the annual soccer tournament held in her honour.
“You can tell, these people that are showing up over and over again — how much of an impact she had in their lives,” Cote’s sister Krista Knapp said.
“She was so special to us. For us to be reminded of how much support we have and how much love is still there for her, it’s what keeps her alive for us,” sister Trina Pfannmuller explained.
The family was collecting donations for the Alberta Homeless Link at the walk, which led supporters away from the school and around Jubilee Park.
Commandeur said Jolene liked to volunteer, so the family is using the money to buy backpacks and winter essentials for those in need.
“Jolene was often involved in a lot of charitable work so we thought it would be a nice way to honour her as well.”
A $50,000 reward remains available for anyone with information leading to an arrest in the murder investigation.
“We still believe that somebody out there has information that they could bring forward that would help solve the case,” Cote’s other sister Rhonda Berg said.
But she knows even an arrest won’t bring her sister back, or undo the pain the family has endured.
“I don’t think that we’ll ever have closure. I think that we’ll just learn to move forward in our lives in a positive way and live our lives the way Jolene would want us to and carry on her legacy.”
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