London Community News
By Chet Greason/For London Community News
A vigil was held on the cold night of Friday, Oct. 12 in front of the OPP detachment on Exeter Road. Family and friends of Donna Jean Awcock, who was found murdered in 1983 and whose killer has never been found, gathered to remember her and other missing persons who have been inexplicably left off the OPP’s unsolved crimes website. Around 20 people were in attendance.
“For almost 30 years we’ve been waiting, wanting for justice,” read Donna’s brother, Bill, occasionally through tears, who noted it often only takes one person to come forward with new information to solve a case. “We want to see ALL names on the registry. The more eyes, the better ... that’s why we’re here tonight.”
Rachel Cree-Lowe, a friend of the Awcock family and one of the organizers of the vigil, read off the names of 11 murder victims from the London area whose cases are not to be found on the website. Attendees, with signs that called for “Justice for Donna” and “OPP Update your website - They Matter” lit candles in remembrance of those who have not been included on the online list.
Awcock, only 17 at the time, went missing exactly 29 years ago while she was babysitting at 86 Cheyenne Ave. At 1:30 a.m. she left the residence to go to the Mac’s Milk store at the intersection of Cheyenne and Huron and never returned. A search party found her body two days later down an embankment just west of the Fanshawe Conservation Area Dam. Awcock had been strangled.
“We can’t get any satisfaction out of the OPP,” said Donna’s mother, Carolyn. “They (the OPP) already told us they’re not coming out here tonight ... They’re saying it’s a solvable case, so why not solve it? It won’t make our pain go away, but it’ll help.”
London Community News attempted to contact the OPP in order to find out what criteria an unsolved case must meet in order to be posted to the website, but a reply wasn’t received by deadline.
A petition is currently available at www.change.org entitled “OPP: the OPP website needs to include ALL unsolved OPP murder cases.” At the time of writing, the petition had 305 signatures, with a goal of 500.
“We at least know where our daughter is resting, but for other families, that’s not the case,” read Bill. “We’ve all suffered one injustice; let’s not force another injustice on the families of victims.”
Below is the list read out at the vigil of the names of victims of unsolved murders in London, the year they disappeared, and their age at the time of disappearance. None of these victims currently appear on the OPP’s website:
Margaret Sheeler, 1963, age 20
Georgia Jackson, 1966, age 20
Scott Leishman, 1968, age 16
Lynda White, 1968, age 19
Robert Bruce Stapleton, 1969, age 11
Jacqueline English, 1969, age 15
Priscilla Merle, 1972, age 21
Suzanne Miller, 1974, age 26
Bonnie Cooper Thomas, 1978, age unknown
Donna Awcock, 1983, age 17
Lisa Leckie, 2009, age 25