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Nearly 50 Years Later, There Are Still No Clues to What Happened to Virginia Sampare

By William Gitsegukla, British Columbia UCF # 104200049

Page last modified on Thursday, 04-Nov-2021 13:31:26 EDT


Virginia Samapare

Jean Virginia Sampare

RCMP investigators and community members looked for Virginia Sampare for eight days after she went missing. There are still no clues to what happened to her.
Indigenous

Gitsegukla, British Columbia - 18-year-old Jean Virginia Sampare was last seen by Alvin (her cousin) on Highway 16 outside Gitsegukla on October 14, 1971. He left her alone as he cycled home to get a jacket, and she was gone when he returned.

Sampare worked at the Royal Packing Company salmon canning plant in Claxton and was described as a healthy, normal 18-year-old woman.

Growing up, Sampare was described as a shy, quiet child who sang teasing songs to her siblings. She loved to play "nurse" with her siblings and would take turns with Winnie being the nurse.

Her siblings are Anne, Winnie, Sandra, Virginia and Rod, with Sandra being the youngest. She attended high school in Hazelton, BC. When she was older, she worked in a cannery and as a caretaker for her siblings.

Sampare would often let someone know of her plans, and it was out of character for her to leave unannounced.

Winnie Sampare says her sister, Virginia, whom she calls Ginny, was hanging out with their cousin, Alvin on Highway 16, looking over the Gitsegukla River in B.C. before Alvin saw her for the last time.

"Sometimes I wonder if she got thrown over the side of the hill and into the water," Winnie Sampare said.

"I'm always thinking... 'Are you in a ditch somewhere?'"

She lived with her parents in Gitsegukla. Rod described their parents as very strict and watchful; the children were not allowed to play after 9 and their parents made them work hard.

Sampare was planning to move to Terrace with Rod later in the month that she went missing. Despite the police and local community searching nearby areas for her for the 8 days following her disappearance, their efforts proved unsuccessful.

She has not been seen since.

Virginia Samapare

Hightway 16 known as The Highway of Tears refers to a 724 km length of Yellowhead Highway 16 in British Columbia where many women (mostly Indigenous) have disappeared or been found murdered.

There is no public record regarding the items which Sampare had taken with her when she went missing. Though it was a cold night, she had left her jacket at home.

On October 16, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) took a missing person's report from Sampare's mom. The RCMP checked with Anna, Winnie, and Sampare's friends and other family and confirmed that no one had made contact with her since she was last seen by Alvin.

Despite multiple theories surrounding what could have led to her disappearance, there has been no conclusive evidence to back any of them up. The police never found any leads or further information that was ever released to the public.

Shockingly enough, Sampare's boyfriend, who also had worked at the canning plant, also had gone missing shortly before she disappeared. His remains were found just after her disappearance. He had drowned in the Skeena River.

Updates (2)

The night of the disappearance, October 14, 1971, Rod's wife, Violet, testified that she saw Sampare at Sampare's mother's house. Violet said that Sampare's mother came home and went into the kitchen; soon after Sampare came out of the kitchen and looked like she was crying. Sampare was avoiding eye contact with Violet. Asking what was wrong, Violet said that Sampare went straight to the door, opened the door and walked out. Violet tried to call Sampare and ask where she was going. Violet tried to get Sampare, but her mother-in-law stopped her, saying that "She'll come back". Violet said that this was between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm.


by Sandra

Alvin, Sampare's cousin, was reported to be the last person to have seen her. He was walking with Sampare alongside Highway 16 when he left to either get a jacket or a bike and then rejoin her. Alvin believed at the time that Sampare was going to a store that was close to the railroad overpass outside of town. Alvin's house was close to where he parted from Sampare, just south of the highway. Violet reported that Alvin came back to the highway and heard a vehicle door close, but Sampare was nowhere to be seen.


Any update on this case, please contact us at fileupdate@unsolvedcasefiles.ca.

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