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The Disappearance of Tamra Jewel Keepness

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Case File Overview

On July 5th, 2004, five-year-old Tamra Jewel Keepness disappeared from her residence: 1834 Ottawa Street in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Tamra and her five siblings were watching TV and enjoying a snack on the evening of her disappearance. She was last seen heading to bed at around 11:00pm.

Tamra’s mother, Lorena Keepness, had an alchol-fuelled argument with her common-law partner, Dean McArthur, at around 8:30pm the evening Tamra vanished.

After the altercation, Dean went drinking with Russell Sheepskin, a friend of the family who sometimes stayed over at the house.

Lorena stayed home until she sent her children to bed, and then went to visit and drink with a friend who lived about a block away, leaving her oldest child, eleven-year-old Summer, in charge.

Tamra’s mother checked in on Summer on her way back to her friend’s house after picking up some alcohol. Everything seemed fine, so Lorena told Summer to “Lock the doors. Don’t open the doors for anyone. If anything comes up, phone me,” and she returned to her friend’s house around midnight.

Tamra’s last known location

Missing Person Tamra Jewel Keepness last know location
Source: The Globe and Mail

Sometime around 2:00am, Russell returned in “an alcohol-induced fog.” Evidence indicated that he made himself a meal, but he doesn’t recall doing so.

Russell and Dean had gone their separate ways earlier in the evening, and Russell didn’t know where Dean was. He told the police that he checked on some of the children who were in the living room, and noticed Tamra sleeping on the love seat.

Russell then headed to the porch to smoke a cigarette and encountered Dean, who was just returning home, right outside the door. Dean proceeded to badly beat Russell.

After the fight Dean left and wandered the streets, trying to find a place to crash. After settling on his Aunt’s house but passing out numerous times on the way there, he finally arrived at around 5:30am. He slept on his aunt’s couch and didn’t return home until late the next day.

Russell decided to go to the hospital for stitches, leaving through the backdoor. He didn’t lock the door or notice if the children were still sleeping in the living room.

Lorena returned home shortly after 3:00am. She crawled in one of the windows because the front door was locked. Although she was quite intoxicated, she believes that she saw Summer and Tanis sleeping in the living room but not Tamra. She headed to the couch and fell deeply asleep.

The next morning, July 6th, 10-year-old Raine was woken up when he felt the bed move, and assumed that it was his sister Tamra getting up. He wasn’t sure of the time this occurred, but stated that it was light outside.

At roughly 9:00am the children’s grandmother, Lois Shepherd, arrived. She found the front door open and Lorena recovering from a hangover on the couch.

Around 10:30am, Lorena noticed that Tamra hadn’t come down for breakfast. She sent one of the children up to get her and was concerned when she was informed that Tamra wasn’t there.

The family searched frantically for Tamra, and at around 12:15 pm they called police and reported her missing.

One of the largest searches in Regina’s history was soon launched, but there was no trace of the little girl. Hundreds of police and volunteers scoured the neighbourhood for Tamra, including dumpsters and outbuildings.

Tamra remains missing.

Tamra is of Aboriginal descent, and at the time of her disappearance she was five years old. Tamra was 3’5″ tall (104 cm) and weighed 35 lbs (16 kg). She has black hair, brown eyes, and some sources indicate that she has a scar on her right leg.

Tamra Jewel Keepness

Missing Person Tamra Jewel Keepness
Source: Regina Police Service

Case File Theories

Kidnapped/Murdered By A Stranger

Could Tamra have been kidnapped and/or murdered by someone outside of her inner circle? Maybe.

The police did question numerous sex offenders in the area, but came up empty handed. Could one of them have discovered the unlocked backdoor, entered the home, and kidnapped Tamra? This is possible, I suppose, but there was plenty of activity happening in the house that evening, and the perpetrator would have needed to time their crime of opportunity perfectly.

Lorena holds fast to this theory, believing that someone “stole” Tamra because she was so smart, like a “little Einstein.” I don’t think this is a very probable scenario, but I cannot blame a distraught mother for wanting to think that her daughter is alive and well somewhere.

At least one tip that the Regina Police Service investigated indicated that a stranger may have been involved in Tamra’s disappearance. An anonymous man with the user name MySecretIsOut posted a crudely drawn map indicating Tamra’s location on Reddit (the map has since been taken down but is widely available online). The map suggests that Tamra’s remains can be located on the Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation reserve. Also, the map says to “check the  wells” for Tamra. The investigators did just that, but no evidence of Tamra was found. Later, it was determined that the Reddit user found the map amongst his grandmother’s possessions after she died. She had told people that her sister had given her the map, after making it “based on visits to someone in a prison out that way.” The grandma, though, suffered from dementia, which I think seriously calls the map’s validity into question.

Map to Tamra’s remains

Tamra Keepness Reddit Map

Kidnapped/Murdered By Someone She Knew

Was Tamra kidnapped and/or murdered by someone close to her? Many people think that this is the likely explanation for her disappearance.

Soon after Tamra vanished, the police turned their focus on her family and their friends. Lorena told the media that the police repeatedly questioned her and Dean, and even interviewed the children. Lorena and Dean don’t like discussing the police investigation. Instead, they like to focus on the possibility that Tamra could be alive. Both Lorena and Dean deny any knowledge of what happened to Tamra.

There is no question that Tamra’s home life was unstable. Lorena and Dean struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, and several of Tamra’s siblings are now in provincial care. Tamra’s home life was also especially violent. When Tamra vanished, Dean had recently been released from prison after serving a “three-month sentence for beating Lorena in a drunken rage.” Additionally, Dean spent six months in jail for his assault on Russell on the night of Tamra’s disappearance.

Lorena Keepness and Dean McArthur

Photo of Lorena Keepness and Dean McArthur
Source: CBC News

Lorena is the first to admit that her life choices have not been ideal. However, Lorena, like many Aboriginal persons in Canada, struggle with numerous issues that have been passed down through the generations. Lorena is a residential school survivor, as was her mother before her. She grew up in a dysfunctional, abusive home and had to forage for food in neighbourhood gardens to survive. Lorena struggles with substance abuse and fell into sex work after Tamra vanished.

According to the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, nearly 59% of the province’s missing women and girls are of Aboriginal ancestry. Tamra’s case is another heartbreaking example of the hundreds of instances of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Although Aboriginal women comprise only 4% on the Canadian total population, they “make up 16% of female homicide victims and 11% of missing women.”

Regardless of the reasons for it, I can’t help but wonder if Tamra’s unstable home life played a role in her disappearance. When the police investigated, they said they found “no signs of forced entry or struggle at the home.” I think this makes it improbable that she was taken by a stranger. And could Dean and Russell really have had a brawl within whispering distance of the children sleeping in the living room without waking them? I just don’t know. There are lots of unanswered questions about that night. I fear that someone in Tamra’s inner circle could be responsible for her disappearance. Hopefully one day we find out.

What do you think happened to Tamra?

Tamra’s loved ones refuse to give up on their little girl, holding vigils and events honouring her memory and trying to get the case some much-needed media attention.

The Regina Police Service has investigated over 1700 leads and interviewed over 500 leads during their search for Tamra. Police Chief Troy Hagen is “cautiously optimistic,” holding out hope that police will someday solve the case.

The police doubled the reward for information about Tamra’s whereabouts to $50,000 in 2014. Anyone with information regarding Tamra is asked to contact the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Related Reading

Tamra Jewel Keepness – Regina Police Service case file overview

Missing & murdered: The unsolved cases of Indigenous women and girls: Tamra Jewel Keepness – CBC News article 

Map of missing Regina girl belonged to late grandmother, Reddit user claimsCTV News article

Interested in missing person cases? Check out the disappearance of Asha Degree and mysterious vanishing of DA Ray Gricar.

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Published inMissing Person FilesTrue Crime



    • Christine Christine

      I hadn’t heard of the Anthonette Cayedito case until now! I can definitely see the connections. It’s so terrible that these girls can disappear and it draws so little attention. Have a great week!

    • Justin Justin

      Elsie Ross is not tamra keep mess grandm

  1. Martha Martha

    Poor little Tamra (and her siblings). I think about you and what might have happened. I hope you and yours found some kind of peace. Part of the mystery here is that coming on 20 years, no one has talked. No one! If it was a person in the family, someone, would have to tell their secret at some time in the past years. Especially as there were so many children involved. They’d tell someone…. As to the fight not waking children up, well, if they’re used to sleeping under those situations, sure they’d sleep. It was a busy, crowded household and you’d learn to sleep under any circumstances.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Martha. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. I also find it fascinating that not one single person has talked in this case, especially after so long. Someone definitely knows something, and Tamra deserves justice. Here’s hoping there are answers soon. Enjoy your Sunday!

  2. i remember when i herd of tamra going missing i lived really close by her but i didnt think she was going to be gone forever thats sad that theres no one serching they should be if it was some wight girl im sure they would be serching for years justice needs to be served its not right that all the aboriginal people are just one big case they should be indivigawal cases for more justice rip tamra keepness i hope one day you will be home where you should be at peace.. help bring this baby home

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Jessica. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. That must have been so upsetting to have this case happen close to home. I couldn’t agree more that Tamra’s case deserves much more attention than it gets, which is heartbreaking. Here’s hoping one day her family can get some kind of closure.

  3. Dani Dani

    What has stumped me by the recent The Walrus article about her, mentions that the neighbourhood smelt of decay the following days? I was surprised there was only a one line part of that. What if she’s closer than they think. I find it difficult to believe dean took hours to arrive at his aunts. I don’t know. Someone has to know something.

  4. Mark Mark

    She had a twin sister named Tamara I thinkand that may have caused some confusion for the parents but I think maybe very early Tamra went out the back door into the alley and went north towrds 11th Avenue where she was snatched. See my other comment on the alley.

  5. Mark Mark

    I sent this copy to the City of Regina and their police just tonight before pasting it here:
    I lived at 1765 Hamilton St. back around 1990 and I frequented 11th Avenue ever since and I began getting haircuts at Don’s Barber Shop near the corner of 11th and Ottawa. I swear to you there used to be an alley located south behind those buildings on 11th Avenue way back sometime ago. When was the yellow house built or moved there and when was the larger grey house next to it built, looks like stucco? There is some pavement to the west of the yellow house that looks like an alley was there before but some of it is covered with grass due to it getting covered by dust and debris. You’d think the owner would want some garden space. Can you guess why I am asking these questions?
    If the area smelled like decay then that just means something evil happened there. Where did it smell the strongest?

    Location 1400 Block 11th Avenue & 1800 Block Ottawa St.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Mark. Thanks for reading and for sharing your insights. Wow, talk about a case hitting close to home for you! I hope that the police consider the message that you sent them. Here is hoping one day Tamra’s family can get some closure.

  6. Mark Mark

    Christine, I know what to do once I get some more information and I took some pictures. The City has delayed me again saying someone is out of the office and won’t be back until next week, but they sent a copy of my message to this Dana woman who is the Historical Information and Preservation Supervisor. Tamra was probably up early like 5 am in the morning, the back door was unlocked, so she went out and probably followed a cat she knew, then went into that other alley whether there was a yellow or gray house there or not and someone snatched her since it is the perfect place to kidnap someone since the area cannot be seen from windows from other houses. The grey large house there used to be a commercial-like rectangular building and it was renovated into a house I am sure and that is why there was an alley there and the kidnappers probably did some things to try to cover up some things so no one could figure out what happened and probably did things without a permit and the city did not notice. She is a slave somewhere in Canada or maybe another continent, but I know which one.
    Do you know anything about where the first missing or murdered First Nation woman of the 4000 was located in 1980? Something very terrible happened to someone who died about 1979 and there are at least two men very angry and now they are serial killers. The one lived in Seattle for long time and crossed the border many times, so that pig farmer is innocent. He never tried to get a girlfriend and would rather kill instead to prevent something. If the first missing or dead woman occurred in Saskatchewan, this is the very key to prove this since I know their motive to eliminate these poor women.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Mark, as always, thanks for insights and thoughts on this heartbreaking case. I hope your tip pans out and that they find her. We will never give up!

    • Martha Martha

      There’s no way Robert Pickton is innocent. There were eyewitnesses! Including a woman who escaped, went to the hospital with stab wounds and he showed up at the same hospital with attack wounds himself! She was ignored because the authorities said she was high…. The CTV show ‘The Pig Farm’ discusses it. It also mentions that intially when they
      police compiled their list of possible suspects there were over 40 men on it. 40 men VPD believed could be serial killers!

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