Jennifer Hillier-Penney's family still without closure, 5 years after her disappearance

·3 min read
Jennifer Hillier-Penney was last seen at her estranged husband's home in St. Anthony on Nov. 30, 2016. Her family and friends will gather for a memorial to mark five years since they last saw her.  (Submitted - image credit)
Jennifer Hillier-Penney was last seen at her estranged husband's home in St. Anthony on Nov. 30, 2016. Her family and friends will gather for a memorial to mark five years since they last saw her. (Submitted - image credit)

The brother of Jennifer Hillier-Penney, the St. Anthony woman who disappeared without a trace five years ago, fears the police will soon declare her file a cold case and the family will never find the closure they desperately seek.

"People can't believe this is the fifth year," said Glen Hillier, with tears in his eyes.

"I still can't believe it's true. I would like for her to be able to walk out through the door and say 'Hi, I'm here'. It's a hard feeling, emotions are going wild."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

Hillier, family members, friends and supporters continue to fight for justice, even without a breakthrough in the RCMP investigation.

He says 50 people will come together Sunday afternoon in St. Anthony at 3 p.m. for a memorial for Hillier-Penney, complete with songs, pictures and signs.

The memorial will then turn into more of an angry march, Hillier said, as the group walk past the RCMP station to the house on Husky Drive where Hillier-Penney was last seen.

"I can't believe that we are still having memorials five years later. It don't seem like we are any further ahead now than the morning I walked into that house with the cop. It seems we are in the same situation we always were," Hillier said.

Hillier-Penney was last seen Nov. 30, 2016, at her estranged husband's home, where she spent the night to look after the younger of the couple's two daughters. The teenager woke the next morning to find her mother gone, but personal items like her coat, keys and passport all left behind.

Colleen Connors/CBC
Colleen Connors/CBC

Police reiterated to CBC News in a statement what it has said in the past — that the RCMP "continues to feel there are people who may have information relevant to the investigation who have not come forward."

RCMP indicated that one piece of information may be of great value to the whole investigation.

"It's the same spiel every year, we got stuff, we are working on stuff," said Hillier.

Hillier said its been a long time since he and other family members have even spoken with the officers involved, and he said members of the investigative unit have not been in the community for some time.

My biggest fear is … it's going to be called a cold case and pushed back on the back burner. - Glen Hillier

He believes the RCMP's yearly statement that says officers are diligently working on the case and still looking for tips is getting old.

"It's not enough pressure," Hillier said.

Colleen Connors/CBC
Colleen Connors/CBC

"I hope one of these days they are going to come in and bang, it's all over. They are going to arrest somebody and put somebody away."

While Hillier does not believe his sister is still alive, he does fear the authorities will give up the search.

"My biggest fear is they are going to come to me one of these days and say we have exhausted all avenues and its going to be called a cold case and pushed back on the back burner, and never be solved."

Tension in community

Hillier and his family continue to gather publicly every year close to the anniversary of the day she went missing to keep the investigation in people's minds.

He said his sister's missing poster is still up on store windows and at the post office in St. Anthony, five years later, and every time he enters an establishment, people ask him about her.

"People are always asking 'any news on Jennifer?' Everyone figures it all should be over," he said.

Hillier said his sister was very close with her siblings. Many find it difficult to see her estranged husband Dean Penney in town, and usually walk the other way or leave the room.

While there is no real sense of closure, like a funeral, a memorial gathering each year helps to bring some comfort and perhaps lead to more information for investigators.

"If there is anybody with any information to please come forward," Hillier said.

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