'We got a life sentence': Reena Virk's parents still grappling with grief 20 years later
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, November 13, 2017 6:45PM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 14, 2017 12:57PM PST
Memories are all Manjit and Suman Virk have left of their eldest child, Reena.
The 14-year-old loved life and her parents say if she were still alive today, she might've become a nurse or worked in childcare.
"She was a caregiver, she liked caring for people, she loved babies. When she had her little brother, she was thrilled," says Suman. "I'm sure she would've done something to help other people."
But the Virks say they'll only be able to think of their daughter as a 14-year-old for the rest of their lives – because Reena's was cruelly taken 20 years ago this Tuesday.
The brutal murder of Reena Virk shocked the entire country and cast a spotlight on teen bullying.
On Nov. 14, 1997, she was swarmed and beaten by other teenagers, mostly girls, underneath Victoria's Craigflower Bridge.
Her attackers included 16-year-old Warren Glowatski and 15-year-old Kelly Ellard, both of whom were convicted of second-degree murder.
After the savage beating, Ellard followed Reena and held her head in the Gorge Waterway, drowning her.
Ellard would later say that she only left an unconscious Reena in the water to die – but that admission fell short of what was proven at trial.
It wasn't until last year during a parole hearing that Ellard took more responsibility for the death.
When she was asked by a parole board member whether Reena would be alive today if not for her actions, Ellard replied "She would be."
Glowatski admitted his role in the murder and was granted full parole in 2010.
"The circumstances are still very painful and I think, the fact that it was so senseless. There was no real motive for the murder," says Suman.
Ellard, now 35 and mother to a child born during her sentence, remains behind bars and has a day parole hearing later this month. If granted, she'd be free to live in the community at a halfway house.
"It's about time that she has to move on. She has a kid now, so I hope she can understand the feelings of a parent," says Manjit Virk. "If anything happens to her child today, how would she feel?"
While Ellard makes her latest bid for freedom, Manjit and Suman are preparing to mark the somber anniversary of their daughter's death.
To honour Reena, the couple will attend a special ceremony Tuesday at the Craigflower Schoolhouse, not far from where she was killed two decades ago.
While the parents say the pain of losing their child has lessened over the years, it will never go away.
"I think that we got a life sentence," says Suman. "We're going to have that pain of the loss forever."