The murder of Reena Virk

Reena Virk (March 10, 1983 – November 14, 1997)

Reena Virk was a fourteen year old teen from Saanich, British Columbia. She would have been turning fifteen on March 10, 1983 but sadly, she never made it.

Reena was originally from India and transferred to Canada as a child. Her immediate family was described as “a minority within a minority,” as they were of the Jehovah’s Witness religion in the local South Asian community of 3,000 which was predominantly Sikh.

She always had a hard time in school, constantly getting bullied due to her accent and looks and because she was ”different,”

On the night of Friday November 14, 1997, Reena was invited to a “party” by her friend near the Craigflower Bridge, a popular hangout spot, west of the city of Victoria, British Columbia. She heard rumors that her bullies were going to go there and ‘beat her up’ but that didn’t stop her from continuing her life. At first everything was fine, Reena was enjoying herself and the group were said to be drinking and smoking. But then, the “Shoreline six” arrived, a group of girls known to bully Reena. They swarmed the teen.

Photo of Craigflower Bridge

(NOTE: The six female perpetrators are referred to in court documents as N.C., N.P., M.G.P., C.A.K., G.O., and K.M.E. N.C. is known to be Nicole Cook and M.G.P is known to be Missy Pleese, though her middle name is still unknown. Both have admitted involvement. Kelly Ellard, the ring-leader, was referred to in some documents as K.M.E. prior to her identification.)

Witnesses who were at the Bridge that night would later say that one of the Shoreline bullies stubbed out cigarettes on Reena’s forehead, while the others stood by and watched, some even laughing.

The ringleader was a teen named Kelly Ellard, a girl who had strongly disliked Reena for reasons unknown.

Reena was then taunted, repeatedly hit, punched and kicked. She was visibly upset and scared but got no sympathy from her attackers who put out several more cigarettes threw-out her body and then yanked her hair and attempted to light it on fire.

This first beating ended when one of the girls stepped up and told the others to stop. This was the only attempt made by all that were there that night, to stop the attack.

Reena attempted to walk away from the group, but was followed by two Kelly Ellard, William Glowatski and an accomplice.

Photo of Kelly Ellard

Warren Glowatski (16)

Ellard Glowatski’s accomplice

The pair dragged Reena to the other side of the bridge, no longer in view of the others. They forced her to remove her shoes and jacket. At this point Reena was sobbing, begging them to stop as she layed on the ground shivering. They ignored her pleas and started punching and kicking her as she tried to shield herself.

Glowatski had no problems with Reena but he decided to join in, kicking Reena twice in the head.

Sometime during the beating, Ellard smashed Reena’s face onto a tree, knocking her unconscious. With the help of Glowatski, Ellard dragged Reena’s body near the water. At this point she was not unconscious and was begging her attackers to stop. She was ignored.

Ellard forced Reena’s head under water at the George Waterway. She was holding Reena’s head down by her foot. Glowatski stood by, watching. Reena struggled, desperately trying to save her own life. Reena’s struggle became weaker until finally she stopped moving.

She was dead.

Despite an alleged pact amongst the people involved to not “rat each other out”, by the following Monday rumors of the alleged murder spread throughout Shoreline Secondary School, where Virk was a student. Several uninvolved students and teachers heard the rumors, but no one came forward to report it to the police. The rumors were confirmed eight days later, on November 22, 1997, when police using a helicopter found Reena’s partially clothed body washed ashore at the George Waterway.

The coroner completed the autopsy and ruled her death was by drowning. However, it was later revealed that she had sustained significant injury, and that the head injuries were severe enough to have killed her if she had not been drowned.

Ellard was sentenced to life in prison after three trails. She still maintains her innocence and shows no sympathy for the crime committed.

Photo of Ellard

Glowatski was sentenced to life in prison but because he was a minor at the time, he had a chance of parole. Reena’s parents didn’t contest his 2004 court hearing, claiming they’ve forgiven him because he showed remorse and owned up to his actions. He was denied however.

Manjit and Suman Virk, the parents of Reena Virk, were devastated with their daughters murder  and at first, they harbored a deep hatred for her attackers. A time when Manjit Virk would have liked nothing more than to wring the neck of Warren Glowatski, one of two teenagers convicted of murdering his daughter, Reena, “as if he were a chicken.”

Photo of Manjit and Suman Virk

But in the fall of 2005, when the two came face to face in a semicircle of chairs in the basement of a church, something very different happened.

“It was the most unusual experience I had encountered in my life,” the Victoria father later recounted in his book, Reena: A Father’s Story.

“My daughter’s killer was shaking hands with me.”

This remarkable act of reconciliation is often cited as an example of the potential of restorative justice – the concept that true healing after a crime doesn’t necessarily come from harsher punishments but rather from the coming together of criminal and victim, giving them a chance to understand one another and work to repair the harm done.

Both of the Virks also spoke at the hearing, telling the panel that healing cannot begin until an offender owns up to their actions.

Suman Virk said that Glowatski’s statement on Wednesday is “huge,” and was tremendously helpful to the couple.

The Virks also said they think the young man is on the right path, and that they supported him getting unescorted absences as he continues to serve his life sentence.

The panel members agreed, noting Glowatski’s positive record while in prison. His next step will be to apply for full day parole.

At the end of the hearing, Glowatski thanked the Virks, giving each of them a hug.

Years after the murder, on the other side of Canada, students had participated in a play titled ”The Holding Room” which was based on Reena Virk’s murder. An online user who was a student at the high-school wrote on a forum:

2 years ago, the drama program at my school wrote and performed a play called The Holding Room based on the murder of Reena Virk. It was originally intended as a competition piece for a school theatre competition but it ended up attracting a lot of attention and resulted in Reena’s parents coming from the other side of the country to see it. Even though I don’t really act anymore, this entire show experience was one of the best of my life.

44 Days Of Hell – The Murder Of Junko Furuta

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Pictured Left; School photo of Junko Furuta November 22nd, 1972 – January 4th, 1989

44-days-of-hell November 25th, 1988 – January 4th, 1989

TOKYO, JAPAN → Born November 22nd, 1972, Junko Furuta had just celebrated her 17th birthday three days prior. The  Japanese teenager and Junior (grade 11) attended Yashio-Minami High School in Saitama Prefecture in Misato.

On November 25th, 1988, Junko left School and was walking home (although some reports say she was walking to her part-time after school job.) She never made it home.

She was kidnapped by a group of young men, including a 17-year-old who was identified as ‘Jō’ and would be later given the surname Kamisaku. They kept her captive in the house owned by the parents of Kamisaku, in the Ayase district of Adachi, Tokyo.

That was the beginning of her 44 days of torture. She didn’t know her abductors, they had no grudge against her and there was nothing specific that they were after. They attacked her because they could, embarking on weeks of atrocities because they could, and because they wanted to.

To forestall a manhunt, the kidnappers coerced Furuta into calling her mother and telling her that she had run away from home, but was with “a friend” and was not in danger. He also browbeat her into posing as one of the boys’ girlfriends when the parents of the house where she was held were around, but when it became clear that the parents didn’t care either way, he dropped this pretext.

Pictured; Far left: Junko,  three of the unidentified abductors and the home in which Junko was taken to and raped and tortured for 44-days. The same home she will eventually die alone in.

DAY 1: November 22, 1988: Kidnapped
Kept captive in house, and posed as one of boy’s girlfriend
Raped (over 400 times in total)
Forced to call her parents and tell them she had run away
Starved and malnutrition
Fed cockroaches to eat and urine to drink
Forced to masturbate
Forced to strip in front of others
Burned with cigarette lighters and set off fireworks in her ears, mouth, vagina
Foreign objects inserted into her vagina/anus including a still lit light-bulb
DAY 11: December 1, 1988: Severely beat up countless times
Face held against concrete ground and jumped on
Hands tied to ceiling and body used as a punching bag  until her damaged internal organs made blood run from her mouth
Nose filled with so much blood that she can only breath through her mouth
Dumbbells dropped onto her stomach
Vomited when tried to drink water (her stomach couldn’t accept it)
Tried to escape and punished by cigarette burning on arms
Flammable liquid poured on her feet and legs, then lit on fire
Bottle inserted into her anus, causing injury
DAY 20: December10, 1988: Unable to walk properly due to severe leg burns
Beat with bamboo sticks
Fireworks inserted into anus and lit
Hands smashed by weights and fingernails kracked
Beaten with golf club
Cigarettes inserted into vagina and forced to drink her own urine as they laughed
Beaten with iron rods repeatedly
Winter; forced outside to sleep in balcony
Skewers of grilled chicken inserted into her vagina and anus, causing bleeding.

And yet she’d almost escaped. One time she reached the telephone—but one of the boys caught her just in time and ended the call for help. They punished her by taunting her with a candle flame and finally dousing her legs in lighter fluid and set her on fire, as punishment for trying to run away. She went into convulsions; the boys would later say that they thought she was faking the seizure. They set her on fire again, then put it out. She survived this round.

DAY 30: Hot wax dripped onto face
Eyelids burned by cigarette lighter
Stabbed with sewing needles in chest area
Left nipple cut and destroyed with pliers
Hot light bulb inserted into her vagina
Heavy bleeding from vagina due to scissors insertion
Unable to urinate properly
Injuries were so severe that it took over an hour for her to crawl downstairs and use the bathroom
Eardrums severely damaged
Extreme reduced brain size
.
DAY 40: Begged her tortures to “kill her and get it over with”
January 1, 1989: Junko greets the New Years Day alone
Body mutilated
Unable to move from the ground
.
DAY 44: January 4, 1989: The four boys beat her mutilated body with an iron barbell, using a loss at the game of Mah-jongg as a pretext. She is profusely bleeding from her mouth and nose. They put a candle’s flame to her face and eyes.
Then, lighter fluid was poured onto her legs, arms, face and stomach, and then lit on fire. This final torture lasted for a time of two hours. Junko Furuta died later that day, in pain and alone. Nothing could compare 44 days of suffering she had to go through.
Less than 24-hours later, on January 5th, 1988, the killers hid Junko’s body in a 55-gallon drum, then filled it with concrete; they disposed the drum in a tract of reclaimed land in Kōtō,Tokyo.
When her mother heard the news and details of what happened to her daughter, she passed-out. She had to undergo a psychiatric outpatient treatment.
According to their statements at their trial, the four of them raped her, beat her, introduced foreign objects including an iron rod into her vagina, made her drink her own urine and was fed cockroaches, inserted fireworks into her anus, and set them off, forced Furuta to masturbate, cut her nipple with pliers, dropped dumbbells onto her stomach, and burned her with cigarettes and lighters. (One of the burnings was punishment for attempting to call the police.)At one point her injuries were so severe that according to one of the boys it took more than an hour for her to crawl downstairs to use the bathroom. They also related that “possibly a hundred different people” knew that Furuta had been imprisoned there, but it is not clear if this means they visited the house at different times while she was imprisoned there, or themselves either raped or abused her.When the boys refused to let her leave, she begged them on several occasions to “kill (her) and get it over with“.
 Three of the boys identities were sealed by the court because of their age, even though they were tried as adults. They pled guilty to a reduced charge of “committing bodily injury that resulted in death”, instead of the original charge of murder. Jo Kamisaku was released in August 1999, and nearly 5 years later he was arrested and served 7 years for assualting a jealous love-rival and according to others who know him and spent time in prison with him, he had been bragging about what he had done to Furuta.

By 2004, Kamisaku, who was already released from prison for Junko’s horrific murder,  had allegedly renewed his contacts with the underworld, and was in trouble with the law again.

He was arrested for assaulting a 27-year-old acquaintance, Takatoshi Isono. Upset that a woman in his life might be involved with Isono, Kamisaku tracked the man down, beat him, shoved him in his trunk, drove him from Adachi to his mother’s bar in Misato, Furuta’s hometown, and continued to beat him. During the four-hour beating, Kamisaku allegedly threatened to kill the man, telling him that he’d killed before and knew how to get away with it.

During his trial Kamisaku admitted to the assault, but he denied that he’d referred to any previous murder or had threatened Isono.

Prosecutors wanted Kamisaku to spend another 7 years in prison. They got a conviction and the sentence they wanted.

Kamisaku has since been released again.

You can visit a memorial site dedicated to Junko Furuta by clicking the link provided: http://junko-furuta.gonetoosoon.org/
Information was gathered from various sites and I rechecked information to make sure story was as accurate as possible. Some of the photo’s are taken from a movie ”Concrete” which is about Junko Furuta’s 44-days of hell. Character playing the role of Junko is shown in the movie-still above.