On Monday, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald ran an In Memoriam for Kimber Leane Lucas, a young woman who died Nov. 23, 1994, at the age of 25.
The notice featured a photograph of a strikingly attractive, smiling young woman above a message that read, in part: “You will never be forgotten. Forever loved and missed, Mom, Charles and Ryan.”
Lucas was murdered. She was seven months pregnant at the time of her death. Her case is one of 48 murders in Halifax that currently remain unsolved.
Lucas came from a good home, loved sports, did well in school and, at one point, considered a career as a fashion model. But somewhere along the road, she became addicted to crack cocaine, and that led her into prostitution and petty crime.
Before she was murdered, she had talked about getting off the streets.
The question today is whether one of the reasons Lucas’ case remains unsolved 15 years later is because she was a prostitute, a woman who, in the parlance, was “known to police.”
Last week, I did a story for The Coast on Halifax’s unusually high number of unsolved homicides. As part of my research, I spoke with Halifax Regional Police deputy Chief Chris McNeil.
Essentially, McNeil argues there will always be unsolved homicides and these can usually be “categorized — many of them deal with individuals involved with the criminal subculture.”
In fairness to McNeil, his point was that such cases are harder to solve because potential witnesses won’t talk to police. But the reality is there also seems to be a double standard.
We hear a lot about investigations involving victims the police refer to as “pure victims” — people like 19-year-old Jason McCullough, a straight-arrow kid who shovelled snow for the elderly and was killed in the summer of 1999 simply because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time — but very little about what the police are doing to solve cases like Lucas’.
When was the last time investigators dusted off her file and began asking questions? When was the last time anyone talked with Kimber’s family about the progress of their investigation? When was the last time police made a public appeal for assistance in the case?
The fact is — as this week’s In Memoriam makes clear — Lucas was someone’s daughter. And her family still misses her.
Stephen Kimber, the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of Kings College, is the author of eight books.