It’s been 20 years since Mindy Tran rode her bike down a quiet Kelowna road and became the victim of one of this city’s most infamous and ultimately unsolved crimes.
The eight-year-old had gone out to play just after dinner, Aug. 17, 1994. When she didn’t return, a search was called and hundreds of area residents fanned out across the neighbourhood to find who was described by many as a studious and friendly child, according to Capital News archives.
Her body, which showed evidence of strangulation and sexual violation, was ultimately found six weeks later, Oct. 11, 1994, when a man with a divining rod led police to a shallow grave in Mission Creek Regional park.
Shannon Murrin, who lived near the Tran family at the time, was charged with her murder in August of 1999 after a lengthy investigation led by Sgt. Gary Tidsbury of the RCMP.
More than 80 witnesses testified at the trial which was held in Vancouver over the course of nearly seven months, and Murrin was ultimately acquitted.
According to Kelowna Mounties, Tran’s murder is still an open investigation, although there doesn’t seem to be much hope that whoever killed the girl will be held accountable.
“The investigation remains open. The person we believe to be responsible for the murder of Mindy Tran was charged and acquitted,” said Const. Kris Clark.
Clark went on to explain that investigations are concluded when they are cleared through disposition in court, through restorative justice measures or even a violation ticket.
“In this particular case, because there was an acquittal and because of the severity of the offence, that file can’t be closed,” he said.
“If any new information were to come to light then that would be added to the investigational file.”
Whether any new information has been offered to police also remains a mystery. Clark said he couldn’t speak to whether or not the file has grown since Murrin was acquitted.
The Mountie’s role in the investigation has also been a focal point of the Tran investigation.
In 2009, Murrin settled out of court a lawsuit where he alleged Sgt. Tidsbury manufactured the case against him, and that the three men were enlisted to beat a confession out of him.
He spent 11 days in hospital as a result of his injuries at that time.
The details of that settlement haven’t been released.