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Tamra Keepness’ family pleads for help at annual barbecue marking her disappearance

Tamra Jewel Keepness was five-years-old when she was last seen in her home in Regina. She went missing on July 5, 2004.
Tamra Jewel Keepness was five-years-old when she was last seen in her home in Regina. She went missing on July 5, 2004. File / Global News

Tamra Keepness went missing 15 years ago on July 5, 2004. She was last seen at about 10:30 p.m. that night, as she headed to bed at her home in the 1800 block of Ottawa Street.

She was five years old the last time her family saw her.

An annual barbecue is held in her honour, and the event serves as a sad reminder of the 15 years her family has held out hope and continues to.

“We haven’t stopped searching,” said Tamra’s great-aunt Joyce Keepness. “We continue to go to psychics, mediums and elders to continue to find answers.”

READ MORE: Somber anniversary; Tamra Keepness still missing after 14 years

Keepness spoke those words to the dozens of people at the barbecue, which is put on each year by Regina/Treaty Status Indian Services (RTSIS) and the Regina Police Service.

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It serves to support and, most importantly, to remind the public that Tamra is still missing, and her family still hoping.

Tamra’s case initially captured the attention of many and brought in about 2,000 police tips, each one followed extensively.

Regina police Chief Evan Bray said those tips are still coming in.

“This is an open case. We still receive tips on what I would call a regular basis. We still investigate each and every one of those tips. The unfortunate thing is none of those have panned out to help us find Tamra,” Bray said.

READ MORE: 21-year-old missing woman found: Spiritwood RCMP

Still, Bray said community and investigative efforts to find Tamra, who would now be a young woman, must remain relentless.

“We hope always that someone who’s out there, who knows maybe a piece of information that they haven’t been comfortable coming forward with, or maybe they think is insignificant, will take the time to come forward because oftentimes that will be the little clue or missing piece that we’ve needed for all of these years to successfully investigate this and find Tamra,” Bray said.

The family hopes people will continue sharing tips with police as well, and Keepness put out a passionate call to the barbecue’s attendees.

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“We feel in our hearts that she’s out there somewhere, and we feel that someone knows. If you know something, come forward,” she said.

“Don’t leave us in the situation that we’re in. Until it happens to you, you don’t know the pain that it causes families. Please, if someone out there knows anything ⁠— the smallest thing ⁠— let us know, let the police know.”

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Bray knows there’s another side to the investigative work being done, and each day Tamra is still missing is another day the family struggles.

“It’s been 15 years, 15 long years for a family and community that is still not getting an answer as to where their loved one is,” he said.

“We’ve got a family that is just constantly covered in sadness and sorrow with some unanswered questions about what happened to Tamra.”

There is a $50,000 reward for any information leading to Tamra’s return.

taylor.braat@globalnews.ca