Tamra Keepness: Found or Missing? Is She Dead or Alive?

Image Credit: Regina Police Service

Paramount+’s ‘Never Seen Again’ chronicles the story of a 5-year-old named Tamra Keepness who went missing in July 2004 from her home in Ottawa Street. Despite hours of work by investigators, several interviews, and a $50,000 reward, the girl has not been seen since. The police continue to search for her despite nearly two decades since her disappearance. So, if you’re curious to find out more, here’s what we know.

What Happened to Tamra Keepness?

Born in 1998 to Lorena and Troy Keepness, Tamra Jewel Keepness was reported missing from her home in the 1800 block of Ottawa Street in Regina, Saskatchewan on July 6, 2004. She had five siblings, including a twin sister, Tannis. The family is of Aboriginal descent and hails from the White Bear First Nation in the southeastern portion of the province. The 5-year-old was last seen going to bed on July 5. As per police reports, Tamra was living with her mother and her partner, Dean McArthur; Lorena and Trop separated shortly after the birth of the twins.

Image Credit: Toronto Star

On the evening of June 5, Lorena and Dean had an argument, followed by Dean leaving the house. He reportedly met Russell Sheepskin, who occasionally stayed with the family, and the two of them went out for drinks. Lorena stayed with her kids for a while before sending them to sleep upstairs and going over to a friend’s house a block away, leaving the oldest child in charge. As per police reports, Lorena also admitted having a few drinks at her friend’s house. Russell reportedly returned and even checked on the children at midnight to find all of them asleep.

Russell would later tell the police that he had seen the children sleeping in the living room. He and Dean reportedly got into a fight at around 3 am, which allegedly resulted in Dean beating Russell so severely that he ended up in a hospital for treatment. Lorena returned shortly afterward to find the doors locked and entered the house through a window. She later stated that she might have noticed Tamra sleeping with her siblings on the couch while she went upstairs to sleep.

Dean claimed he had gone to his aunt’s house in the early morning hours to catch some sleep. Lorena stated that the following morning, Raine, one of Tamra’s siblings, had felt in his sleep that Tamra was leaving her bed. About an hour and a half later, the family contacted the police when they could not find Tamra anywhere. Regina police mounted one of the biggest and most extensive searches in the city’s history to find the missing child after finding no indications of forced entry or struggle at the home.

Is Tamra Keepness Dead or Alive?

One of the officers of the Regina Police Department recalled how the entire police force had been engaged the day Tamra was reported missing. Till 2014, the authorities claimed to have received over 1,700 tips and conducted hours of interviews in looking for Tamra. Since June 2014, a $50,000 reward had also been put up for information about the missing child’s whereabouts.

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Lorena reportedly called Tamra her “little Einstein” because of her intelligence. She still believes her child will return. Talking about it, the mother said, “Someone stole her, that’s all I know. Someone stole my child. I try to think of everything from day one, what [and] where. I try to tell the police.” Lorena further added, “I don’t feel she’s gone. I don’t feel she’s gone at all. I think she can still come home.”

Every year the city hosts an annual barbecue at Regina’s Pepsi Park on July 5 — the day little Tamra disappeared. The authorities feel it acts as a reminder and helps the family believe that they are not alone in the search for their child. The executive director of Regina/Treaty Status Indian Services (RTSIS), Erica Beaudin, said, “There are other people who miss her, who wonder where she is, who support them as a family in bringing her home.” Even after 18 years of her disappearance, the family has not given up hope.

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