Taken from Edmonton Journal Dec 28/11Family, neighbours await word on Spruce Grove homicide
Comedy shows planned to raise reward money
By Brent Wittmeier, edmontonjournal.com December 17, 2011
EDMONTON - Every two weeks for the past two months, Rhonda Berg has met with RCMP investigators about her sister’s death. In between those meetings, she called them dozens of times.
Each time, the answer is the same. There is no new information.
Berg is fine with police remaining tight-lipped about the Oct. 13 homicide of 36-year-old Jolene Cote, a Spruce Grove teacher found dead in her home northeast of Spruce Grove. Police have not said how the married mother of two young children was killed, if the attack was random or if they have any suspects.
“It’s very difficult to not know anything, but I’m not frustrated with the police at all,” said Berg. “They’ve treated us very well through the entire investigation and I completely understand why they’re not able to give us any new information.”
Berg is hoping a pair of upcoming comedy shows, set for Monday and Tuesday night at the 318-seat Horizon Stage in Spruce Grove, will help spotlight the case and perhaps ease the tension a deadly mystery has brought to the community.
“Jolene had a great sense of humour,” Berg said. “She enjoyed going to comedy shows. One of the nice things about the event is that we’ll all be able to laugh and enjoy ourselves the way we used to with Jolene.”
A group of 40 Spruce Grove students, parents, and community members have helped organize and sell tickets for the events.
“They’ve received cash donations from people like crazy,” Berg said. “The support we’ve received from people we didn’t even know before is amazing. It’s helped us realize as a family just how many lives Jolene impacted.”
In November, Cote’s family set up a $25,000 reward fund in hopes of finding her killer. They’ve been trying to raise funds for both the reward and to ensure the post-secondary education of her two small children.
Shortly after the homicide, police and the Parkland Search and Rescue Society searched for evidence around the home in a wooded area. RCMP have said little else, apart from asking anyone who was north of Highway 16, between Highway 60 and Highway 44, on the night of Oct. 12 or the early morning of Oct. 13 to call police.
The lack of information since has been difficult for the neighbours, said Karl Kocon, who lives in one of about 20 houses in the subdivision.
“Everybody drives into their garage, they close the door, turn off the car, and go into the house, turn off the alarm,” Kocon said. “That’s not the way we used to live.”
Kocon is one of the only local residents who actually met Cote. He cleared snow from her driveway and helped her get a friend’s vehicle out of a ditch. The couple built the home last winter and were “absolute outsiders” in the neighbourhood, Kocon said.
After the killing, Kocon was chosen to introduce a group of neighbours to Cote’s husband. The group offered the family prepared meals, teddy bears and their willingness to help with anything they needed.
In the meantime, Kocon won’t let his children outside unaccompanied. All he wants to know is whether police have any suspects.
“If it was a stranger that was going to rob them, then we have some grave concerns,” said Kocon.
Berg agrees that the lack of information has permeated the wider Spruce Grove area.
“There is a lot of fear in the community because we don’t know at this point, it hasn’t been released at all if it was random or not,” Berg said. “I think it’s heightened a lot of people’s fear and sense that this kind of thing can happen to anyone.”
On Saturday, RCMP spokesman Sgt. Tim Taniguchi said there are no new updates. Between eight and 12 investigators are on the case, he firstname.lastname@example.org