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Double murder of Alberta teacher and boyfriend remains unsolved 10 years later

PINCHER CREEK, Alta. - The simple plaque in the middle of the small garden in front of Canyon Elementary School pays homage to a beloved teacher.


PINCHER CREEK, Alta. - The simple plaque in the middle of the small garden in front of Canyon Elementary School pays homage to a beloved teacher.

Carved in stone, it reads simply "Lorraine McNab" and includes an etching of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains that dominate the view from the picturesque town of Pincher Creek in southwest Alberta. A small cameo of a horse in the top right-hand corner completes the memorial.

Students from the popular teacher's kindergarten class are now in junior and senior high school - a long way from the December day in 1997 when McNab and her boyfriend were found shot to death inside a horse trailer on her rural property just south of town.

The case remains unsolved despite intense investigations into the double homicide and thousands of hours of police work. But although McNab and RCMP Sgt. Peter Sopow may be gone, they are definitely not forgotten.

"I think we're up the creek without a paddle on this one," sighed Lorraine's brother, Grant McNab, in an interview with The Canadian Press. "It'll be 11 years this December and after this long we're beginning to think this will never be solved.

"Life goes on. We all sit here and wish something could get solved. Whoever did it is basically walking around as a free man. If it doesn't get solved I guess it goes down in the history books as another unsolved mystery."

McNab left behind two children, a boy and a girl, and anxious townsfolk shocked that something so violent could happen in such a small, close-knit community.

Speculation has long been rampant about who could have committed the crime and why. Police have wondered about a local suspect. But suspicions mean nothing without evidence and investigators haven't even recovered a murder weapon.

McNab had originally expected that the case would be wrapped up in no time, especially considering it involved a Mountie as well as his sister.

"They even said that 'one of our own is involved and we're going to get to the bottom of this,"' remembered McNab. "It sounded like it would be in short order and here we are nearly 11 years later.

"The bottom drawer in this case must be closed, but they say 'No, no, no. We're still working.' Supposedly they're waiting for modern technology or something."

Police have not given up on solving the case but they concede the investigation has hit a dead end.

"I can't tell you that it's under active investigation. We haven't had anything of significance for quite some time as far as tips from the public," said Sgt. Patrick Webb from the RCMP in Calgary.

"There are tips that come in every once in a while, but their values are not very high," he added. "It's a cold case. It has a special meaning for us, but is not any more special than many other cases we'd like to solve."

Webb agrees with McNab that the best bet for solving the double homicide probably lies with technology.

"We are still holding out that future technological advances will allow us to re-examine evidence that we currently hold, and that re-examination will give us the final pieces that will get us to the point of actually laying charges."

There's a new resident now on Lorraine McNab's property. The quarter-section of land she had so proudly purchased has been sold and subdivided. Her life in Pincher Creek is fading into a memory.

But her brother remembers, and he's haunted by questions.

"Her last minute, two minutes, five minutes of her life? Was it God-damned horrific?

"I wish somebody could be arrested and then maybe we could get a couple of more questions answered," he wonders out loud.

"Whether we want the answers? In the long run, I do."

And if a suspect is arrested?

"He'll never answer the question, but I would like to stare him in the eyes for a couple of minutes and have him just a little bit scared of what I'm thinking."

 
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