Tammy Kehoe hopes a Facebook message might shed new light on her teenage son’s unsolved homicide on a Surrey bus nearly seven years ago.
Jamie Kehoe, 18, was stabbed to death on a public transit bus at 72nd Avenue and 128th Street on Oct.7, 2011, reportedly while trying to stop a fight.
No one has been charged in his killing. Police at the time were looking for a tall black man in his early 20s with short curly hair who was seen leaving the scene of the crime with a young woman.
During their investigation homicide police combed through a vacant wooded lot in the 7000-block of 128th Street, roughly a block away from where Kehoe had been stabbed 10 days earlier. About a dozen officers from the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team raked through the underbrush, just west of Princess Margaret Secondary school and across the street from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Police wouldn’t reveal what they were looking for.
Seven months after the stabbing, the Criminal Justice Branch decided not to lay charges after concluding there was no substantial likelihood of securing a murder or manslaughter conviction in the case.
“There’s no justice for my son at all,” Kehoe’s grieving mom told the Now-Leader on Tuesday. But she hopes that might change – that investigators might take a fresh look at her son’s case after she received a message on her Remembering Jamie Patrick Kehoe facebook page on May 13 from a young woman who said she had been on the bus that night.
“She’s the one that called 911. She applied pressure to his wound, she was there,” Tammy Kehoe said. “I would like to meet with her, obviously.”
Kehoe said the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team called her on Tuesday. “They want me to ask her if she’d be willing to talk to them.”
“It was a private message that she sent, I guess to Jamie. She was there. She just described what she went through.”
Corporal David Lee, a spokesman for IHIT, said investigators “are aware she’s received the information. I think we heard about it indirectly. But they are reaching out with her to figure out who this person is and we want to be in touch with her, as far as I’ve got so far.”
Neil MacKenzie, a spokesman for the Criminal Justice Branch, noted in 2012 that Kehoe had been fatally stabbed during a fight between his friends and a couple on the bus. “There is no clear evidence to what degree, if at all, Mr. Kehoe himself was involved in this altercation, and no reliable direct evidence of how the fatal wound was inflicted or who was responsible for it,” MacKenzie said at the time. He added that while police have a suspect in mind, “the statements of witnesses, both those who were involved in the altercation and those who simply observed it, provide an incomplete and at times contradictory picture of events on the bus” that night.
“Some witnesses gave multiple statements to police which were inconsistent with each other on material points,” MacKenzie noted in 2012. “The weight of the available evidence raises a realistic possibility, perhaps even a probability, that the suspect likely stabbed Mr. Kehoe, either intentionally or inadvertently, is response to an attack on the suspect by a male companion of Mr. Kehoe. The male companion had a collapsible metal baton in his possession and was using it to strike the suspect.”
MacKenzie said it was not clear what weapon was used to stab Jamie Kehoe, or when it was produced. He said some witnesses claim it was used in self defence against the baton attack. “While the circumstantial evidence reasonably supports an inference that the suspect was responsible for the stabbing of Mr. Kehoe,” MacKenzie added, “the Crown is not able to establish to the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect was not at the time defending himself against the attack with the metal baton, a device capable of causing death or grievous bodily harm.”
Tammy Kehoe told the Now-Leader her son was stabbed as he was standing up from his seat.
“Jamie had nothing to do with the fight, at all. He got up and didn’t know what was going on and tried to separate people, as I hear, and he got hit with the knife.”
The blade cut an artery in her son’s chest, she said. “The story affected a lot of people. Jamie was a good kid – he was not a confrontational boy. He like skateboarding and just chilling.”
A makeshift memorial still marks the site where he was killed. Hundreds attended a candlelight vigil there shortly after the teen died. The crowd was so large it spilled onto 72nd Avenue. The entire Chilliwack Giants minor football team, for which Jamie’s younger brother played, was bused in on a yellow school bus to pay respect.
Jason Kehoe, the victim’s dad, said at the time that he expected the huge turnout at the vigil would make waves across Canada.
“This is going to say a lot to the whole country,” Jason Kehoe said, amid a carpet of glittering candles.
“I just want these kids to leave the knives at home. If you don’t like someone, just walk away. It doesn’t have to come to this.”
Hundreds of mourners also attended the funeral service at Fraser Heights Funeral Home, among them a busload of the teen’s buddies who were brought in from North Delta’s Skateboard Park.
Standing behind a podium, to the right of Kehoe’s coffin, Pastor Mark Laird said it’s always “gut-wrenching” when a young life is taken.
“This is a young boy who had it in his heart to defend somebody and in doing so got in harm’s way,” he said.
Jason Kehoe delivered his son’s eulogy. He said the teen didn’t like to fight.
“Just a beautiful child with a beautiful smile and a bright future,” is how he remembered his boy.
“Jamie, I love you more than life and I’ll miss you forever,” he said. “More than words can say.”
The inside cover of his memorial card contained a message they called Jamie’s Law:
* Always think twice before you act.
* Always respect your peers
* Always leave your knives at home.