Time can help ease the grief felt after the unexpected death of a loved one, but it can also magnify pain.
It's been seven years since Sheree Fertuck disappeared in rural Saskatchewan. Police believe the 51-year-old woman was murdered by Greg Fertuck, her estranged husband, on Dec. 7, 2015.
Sheree's sisters are still seeking justice and closure. Greg's murder trial is about to enter its third year and Sheree's remains have never been found.
"It's hard to believe it's seven years already," Teaka White, Sheree's sister, said. "We have more answers than we initially did, but the fact that the trial is still going on and that he hasn't been convicted yet … is this ever going to end?"
Greg is on trial for first-degree murder, accused of killing Sheree at the remote gravel pit near Kenaston, Sask, where they both worked.
He has pleaded not guilty.
Justice Richard Danyliuk is presiding over the trial, which began in 2021 at Saskatoon's Court of King's Bench. It's been delayed because of COVID-19 outbreaks, the unexpected discovery of a gun and Greg turfing his lawyers mid-trial.
Last month, he chose to represent himself in court moving forward.
Michelle Kish, another of Sheree's sisters, knows the court process is out of their control, but said she never imagined it would drag on for so long.
"This needs to come to a close. I mean, enough is enough already." Michelle said.
The investigative technique used to arrest Greg is controversial. Police arrested him in 2019, four years after Sheree disappeared. Investigators ensnared him in a lengthy undercover police operation known as a "Mr. Big sting."
Officers spent months in disguise, gaining Greg's trust and pretending to be his pals. The charade came down after Greg told undercover officers he shot Sheree to death and disposed of her body in a rural area not far from the pit.
He mapped out the route to the remote, treed location and then helped them search.
They never found her.
Sheree's sisters still believe Greg knows where the remains are. Perhaps the police even attended the right location with Greg or after his arrest, but it was too late to find her, they said.
"That was in 2019, right, so I mean even four years later, bush could have been pushed, could have been burned," Teaka said.
"When you go out there, like just in the small area that I was looking, one bush is pretty similar to the next. It all looks the same after a while."
Teaka said they'll need a lot of luck to find Sheree, but it's not impossible.
For years, the Crown pursued its case against Greg without a murder weapon. In 2021, a rural couple discovered a gun under a grainary west of Saskatoon. The Crown is arguing this is the gun that Greg used to kill Sheree.
"The police aren't searching. I guess our best luck is if hunters or somebody, whoever owns the land where she is, comes across something," Teaka said.
"We can always hold out hope that maybe, some of her is found someday."
Michelle said they wanted to hire a private canine search team, but the timing didn't work out. They've even consulted psychics without luck.
"The gal that I was with — we've been out a couple times," Teaka said. "She said 'I see Sheree everywhere.' She turns around, and she goes, 'I see her everywhere.'"
Michelle said another psychic heard Sheree saying "stop looking for me. You won't find me."
At the trial, the Crown has called all of its evidence, giving more insight into Sheree's last days and the extent of the sting used to get Greg's confessions.
Teaka and Michelle attended court. For them, one of the hardest parts was hearing the tapes of Greg talking about killing Sheree.
"He's just so calm: Just did this. Just did that. He was just too matter of fact, and no remorse. Like doo-doo-doo, that's what I did," Michelle recalled.
Greg now denies this version of events, but at the time he described shooting Sheree twice, then acted out shooting her in the shoulder and then in the back of her head.
"That was heart wrenching," Michelle said. "I always think about Sheree in that moment, what she must have been feeling."
"I just wish when he got the gun, when [Sheree] saw him getting the gun, that she just would have got into the truck and just ran him over or did something, but I guess she didn't honestly think he was gonna shoot," Teaka said.
Teaka and Michelle try not to dwell on these ideas. The judge presiding over the case still must decide whether any of Greg's disclosures will be admissible to the trial proper.
To date, they've been entered as evidence in a series of voir dires — trials within trials that are held to determine admissibility.
As time passes, the sisters feel Sheree's absence most during holidays and birthdays, or when a random moment triggers a memory.
Teaka can't help but think of Sheree when she barbecues.
"I was at the farm one time and she didn't barbecue very much," Teaka paused, laughing.
"I said 'go light the barbecue,' so she went."
"'Oh, that didn't go very good,'" Teaka remembers Sheree saying as she came back into the house.
"'Well, you idiot,' I said, 'didn't you open the lid on the barbecue?'"
Sheree's singed hair said enough. They laughed together.
Teaka and Michelle still laugh about the good times, but they're angry memories are all they have.
"If only we knew…" Michelle trailed off. "I would have called Sheree more often or got together more often."
Death can be easier to digest when caused by old age or illness, the sisters said. When someone disappears, there is no chance for resolution or goodbyes.
"She was just honestly there one day, not the next," Teaka said.
Teaka describes it as terrible all around, but especially for Sheree and Greg's kids, who are now adults.
"I just hope moving forward that their lives can be...they can find happiness," Michelle said.
"Maybe once the trial is done, it might help the kids too, because it's not hanging over their heads [then]," Teaka added.
The sisters want justice for Sheree. They want Greg locked up for the rest of his life. But more than anything, they want to be able to put Sheree's remains to rest.
"I need that final resting place, that final goodbye, to be at peace, knowing that she's at peace," Teaka said.