Mother of murdered B.C. teen tells killer she hopes 'you never have another moment of peace'

·5 min read
Thirteen-year-old Letisha Reimer died on Nov. 1, 2016, after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary school. Her mother spoke about the impact of the murder at the sentencing of Reimer's killer. (Ulrich Reimer/Facebook - image credit)
Thirteen-year-old Letisha Reimer died on Nov. 1, 2016, after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary school. Her mother spoke about the impact of the murder at the sentencing of Reimer's killer. (Ulrich Reimer/Facebook - image credit)

Eliane Reimer says she saw the colour of her daughter's face and she knew.

Letisha Reimer was being wheeled out of her Abbotsford high school on a stretcher.

Seconds before, Eliane Reimer had watched paramedics rush the 13-year-old's friend out of the building to an air ambulance and allowed herself to think that perhaps her baby's wounds wouldn't be that bad.

She was confused, standing inside police lines, desperate for information after rushing to the school through traffic on a summons from the principal who said her daughter had been stabbed and she needed to come right away.

And then she saw Letisha.

"I didn't believe it or grasp it, but I did know," Eliane Reimer told a sentencing hearing for Letisha's killer Wednesday.

"We drove to the hospital. At the ER, I heard the page as soon as we walked in for all available surgeons. I thought again — how bad this was."

'This could not be true'

Eliane Reimer was one of seven family members of Gabriel Klein's two victims to give statements outlining the impact of his crimes before Crown and defence debate the length of time he should serve behind bars.

Klein was convicted of second-degree murder in Letisha Reimer's death and aggravated assault for stabbing her friend — known as EI — four times.

It has been nearly five years since Klein walked into Abbotsford Senior Secondary School on Nov. 1, 2016, and began attacking the girls with a stolen knife. They were studying in a hallway.

CBC
CBC

EI managed to get away, but Klein stabbed Letisha Reimer 14 times, stopping only after he was confronted by a fine arts teacher who rushed to Reimer's side after hearing screams and seeing Klein standing over the helpless teen.

Eliane Reimer was the first victim to speak. She said she had written a "portion of what our experience was on Nov. 1, 2016."

At the hospital, she said they waited in a quiet room with a police officer who asked her to wrack her brains for any reason someone might have attacked her daughter: "how else would any of us ever be able to wake up and walk out of our houses if strangers could randomly do this?"

Reimer said she knew the surgeons were taking too long. She saw medical staff rushing back and forth. And she also saw others, carrying on, oblivious to her pain.

"How could they?" Eliane Reimer asked, her voice trailing into a high pitched sob. "There they were like the world had not just stopped."

Finally, she said, the doctors came. Too many of them. One asked them to sit.

"And his lip was quivering," Eliane Reimer said. "No. This could not be true. This was not happening. Not our daughter. Not our family in this community."

'I struggle with anger, with grief'

In the days before the stabbings, Klein had landed in a homeless shelter after first slipping across the border into Washington state and then turning up at the same hospital where Letisha Reimer would be declared dead days later, complaining that his brain and spine were swelling.

Klein has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but the judge overseeing the case rejected his bid to be declared not criminally responsible for his actions because of a mental disorder.

IHIT/Twitter
IHIT/Twitter

The second-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence, so the main question at the sentencing hearing is the amount of time Klein will have to wait before he can apply for parole.

The Crown believes he should serve a minimum of 18 years. Prosecutors also want him to serve a concurrent seven-year sentence for the attack on EI.

Letisha Reimer's father took the stand immediately after her mother.

"I struggle with anger, with grief," he said.

"She fought and struggled to kick him off. She couldn't do anything. She was attacked from behind. The accused attacked her from behind like the coward he is. The entire time has been about him and what he has done. It's not about him. It's about her."

'I saw an empty stretcher covered in blood'

EI's mother also spoke about her experience on the day of the attack. She wasn't initially told her daughter had been flown, alive, to another hospital in Vancouver.

And so she went to the Abbotsford hospital as Letisha Reimer was arriving, surrounded by medical personnel trying to keep her alive. EI's mother says she was led in through a bay door.

"I saw an empty stretcher covered in blood," she said. "I thought the blood was from [my daughter]."

She thought EI was dead.

Then she was told that she was alive, undergoing surgery, and they drove in the rain to Vancouver.

"That's when the police officers told us that Letisha had passed away," EI's mother said. "They asked us not to tell [EI] that her best friend was no longer with us until she was in stable condition."

CBC
CBC

EI had a collapsed lung, a lacerated liver and wounds on her eyelid and shoulder. Her mother said the ensuing years have been a struggle. She nearly lost her daughter again when she began profusely bleeding at home in the aftermath of a series of operations.

"Time has passed since I first wrote the victim impact statement," she said.

"But one that's still heavy on my heart is every time [EI] experiences an accomplishment or milestone, it leaves me feeling sad that Letisha and her family don't get to experience it as well."

'I hope for this ...'

The sentencing hearing is expected to play out over two days.

The Crown wants the judge to let corrections officials have the final say on where Klein should serve his time.

Eliane Reimer said her daughter looked peaceful in death, like she was sleeping. But she was so cold.

"This is one snippet of one day and how Letisha's murder has affected us," she said.

"The life sentence we serve is forever."

She concluded her statement by speaking directly to Klein. She said she knew her words might have no impact on the length of time before he can ask a parole board for a chance at freedom.

"I hope for this," she said.

"That you never have another moment of peace again in your life. That every time you close your eyes, these are the thoughts that fill your brain and you cannot get away from these pictures and the sounds of her screams in your head."

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