Teen's killer not caught after 12 years

On Aug. 5, 1998, Lisa Kopf's body was found in a farmer's slough. Someone had held her face down in...

On Aug. 5, 1998, Lisa Kopf's body was found in a farmer's slough. Someone had held her face down in the mud until she suffocated.

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

EDMONTON - Barb Kopf remembers every second of the night her 17-year-old daughter was killed.

"It's so vivid," she says quietly. "I don't remember any of the six months after that, but I remember everything about that night."

On Aug. 5, 1998, Lisa Kopf's body was found in a farmer's slough. Someone had held her face down in the mud until she suffocated.

Twelve years after the unimaginable crime, her mother is still waiting for justice.

"Whoever did this," Kopf says, "I want them caught. I want to see them for myself. It's been so long - is this the only murder they've gotten away with?"

Slowly, she adds: "I still have grief, but these days there's more anger."

Barb and her two daughters, Lisa and Carla, 14, moved to Edmonton in 1997 from Victoria, B.C., in search of a fresh start after the girls' father was killed by a drunk driver.

Adjusting to a new city was difficult for the girls, Kopf says, but they were doing OK.

"I knew Lisa's four closest friends and they were all really nice friends," she says. "I didn't know her other friends, though."

On Aug. 4, 1998, the sisters left their west end home for a party on the north side. They told their mom that they'd take the LRT and city buses to get back home.

"I always told them if you're going to get home later than you planned, call me and let me know." A little before midnight Lisa called Barb to say they wouldn't make to the LRT before it shut down for the night, so Barb told her to take a cab home with her sister.

A couple hours later, Carla arrived home alone. She told Barb that she couldn't find Lisa and had assumed she'd already left the party.

"Right away, I felt that something was terribly, terribly wrong," Barb recalls.

She got out the phone book and phoned every hospital and police station in the city, but got nowhere.

At 10 a.m. a farmer checking his livestock found her body.

"When the police came to my door, I knew right away," Kopf says, her voice trailing off.

While police won't discuss any specifics of the case, the head of the homicide unit says it's still an open file.

"We don't give up," says staff Sgt. Lorne Pubantz, who was one of the initial investigators. "During the passage of time, people might have a change of lifestyle. Someone who knows something about this might decide, 'this is the time for me to come forward.'"

Earlier this year, cops closed the books on a 29-year-old homicide when they arrested Robert James Fletcher, 50, for the 1981 killing of cabbie Gerdine Kruidbos.

Often, Pubantz says, investigators can "fill in the blanks" in old cases when people come forward after years of silence.

Kopf clings to the hope that cops will get a break like that in Lisa's case.

"It's been 12 years, how could somebody do that and not step forward in all this time?"

Sometimes, Kopf says, she feels trapped in time.

"Every single day I think about her. I can still smell her. Every now and then I swear I can feel her behind me."

Carla, now 26, moved back to B.C. a few years ago.

Kopf divides her time between Edmonton and Surrey, where she owns a second house.

"I don't have many close friends here," she says. "And I often think, if we'd never moved here, that wouldn't have happened to Lisa. I carry that guilt with me."

Despite the lingering pain, she refuses to leave Edmonton until Lisa's killing is solved.

"I just don't feel right about leaving. I feel like I'd be leaving her."

andrew.hanon@sunmedia.ca

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www.twitter.com/andrewhanon


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