A mom who fought for years to have her daughter’s murderer brought to justice died last week.
Shari Greer of Chilliwack passed away Nov. 16 at the age of 73 after suffering a massive heart attack.
Greer is the mother of Kathryn-Mary Herbert, who disappeared Sept. 24, 1975 at the age of 11 after last having been seen in the area of Townline and Marshall roads in Matsqui (which later amalgamated with Abbotsford).
Her remains were found Nov. 17 of that year near Harris Road in an undeveloped part of Matsqui First Nations. Her body was hidden under a sheet of plywood taken from the wall of an old outhouse.
Her skull was fractured and her jaw was broken. The autopsy was not able to confirm whether Kathryn-Mary had been sexually assaulted, although her underwear, socks and shoes were missing.
The case went unsolved for almost 40 years, during which time Greer challenged police to continue to purse the investigation and to hold them accountable.
In 2012, she offered a $10,000 reward for new evidence leading to a suspect.
She also held grief support retreats for over a decade on her property in Chilliwack, and in 2012 was recognized with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Finally, in late 2014, Greer received the news that she had worked so tirelessly to hear: An arrest had been made and charges were laid in relation to her daughter’s killing.
Garry Handlen, then 67, was charged in November 2014 with the first-degree murder of Kathryn-Mary, as well as the first-degree murder of Monica Jack, 12, of Merritt in 1978.
At the time, police said Handlen has been a “person of interest” early in the investigation, but it had taken that long to gather enough evidence to support first-degree murder charges.
Police have not said what evidence eventually led to his arrest. A trial date for Handlen has not yet been set.
Greer spoke at a press conference, in which the charges were announced, to describe her daughter as “loving, kind and compassionate.”
Kathryn-Mary was not her only loss. Greer’s son Donnie drowned in a gravel pit near the Abbotsford Airport a year before Kathryn-Mary’s death. Her son William, also known as Butch, died by suicide afterwards.