Childhood friends of Pamela Cameron and a trio of retired police officers who helped investigate the teen’s murder were among dozens who gathered Friday – on the brutal event’s 25th anniversary – in South Surrey to pay tribute.
“She was such an amazing person,” Joel Robinson told Peace Arch News following the informal memorial held at the Forever Garden, a space on the east side of the South Surrey Arena that was created in the wake of Cameron’s death.
The garden’s central element is a broken arch, symbolizing young lives cut short.
Robinson and his wife, Jenny, were classmates of Cameron in Milton, Ont., before the teen moved to B.C. with her family in the summer of 1994.
They remember how no one wanted her to move, and, how they were pulled out of class two months later, the day that word of her death arrived.
Cameron, 16, was grabbed off of 152 Street by Mitchell James Owen on Oct. 4, 1994, as she walked in broad daylight along the busy thoroughfare’s 2100-block. The body of the Grade 10 Semiahmoo Secondary student was found mere paces from the roadside.
The crime shook the community, and sparked a manhunt that, in relatively short order, led to Owen’s arrest. Currently serving an indeterminate sentence, he’s eligible to apply for full parole on Oct. 16.
Ken Holmberg, Wayne Bloomquist and Rob Stutt were among RCMP investigators on the file – Stutt’s team led the investigation; Bloomquist was in forensics; and Holmberg’s team provided support, including canvassing the neighbourhood for witnesses.
“Everybody got involved,” Holmberg told PAN, during an interview just steps away from the garden’s broken arch.
He described what happened to Cameron as “senseless,” and said attending Friday was “the least we could do for the family.”
Every such case “takes a piece out of everybody,” Holmberg added.
Cameron, he said, “definitely isn’t forgotten.”
Friday’s gathering included a brief presentation by organizer Bonnie Moy, who shared a few words and thanks from Cameron’s mother, Marilyn.
“It is so wonderful to know that so many people were touched by my kind and loving daughter,” Marilyn wrote. “Our hearts will always be broken. It is the good memories and the strong, loving people surrounding us that help our family move forward in life.”
The Robinsons described Friday’s tribute to their friend as “inspiring,” and said it is such efforts that keep Cameron’s memory alive.
Not everyone who attended the late-morning event knew Cameron personally, but it was clear the teen’s death resonated with them nonetheless.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of one woman as she shared her thoughts with PAN. She said she was pregnant at the time Cameron was killed, and remembers driving the same stretch of 152 Street on her commute to and from work.
“It was a horrific crime,” the woman, who did not want to be identified, recalled. “This poor, innocent girl didn’t make it home… It just terrified the community.
“I have always remembered her.”