There’s a popular perception that people go through five stages of grief, starting with denial and ending with acceptance.
A year after Jonathan Bruce’s death, his aunt, Cindy Bruce, said that the family is still struggling with that first stage.
“Because we don’t know what actually all happened, until this ends up going to court, you relive it. You realize that this little guy that you helped learn to walk ... spent hours alone freezing to death,” she said.
On Nov. 24, 2013, Bruce’s body was found near the Fort St. John Motocross Track. He was 16. The details of what caused his death remain unclear, both to the family and to investigating officials.
Cindy Bruce told media he received a blow to head to his head before he died. Fort St. John RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said that the death is considered to be a homicide.
“Some of his clothing was taken, and his phone. That didn’t just happen by accident,” Cindy Bruce said. “Someone did that to him.” She also said that the phone was recovered and sent back to Apple for investigation, but that nothing was recovered from the phone.
On Monday morning, Jonathan’s family and friends commemorated the teenager’s death with a release of about 40 balloons at Peace View Point, south of Fort St. John. Each one represented a different person who wished to honour Jonathan Bruce’s life. The ceremony was similar to one that took place just after his death.
Cindy Bruce said Jonathan “just made you laugh.” He was a fan of motorized vehicles, and loved to repair cars.
“I could hear him coming ... he’d ride a lawnmower. He didn’t care,” she said. “As long as it had an engine, he came.”
Bruce once told his grandfather that he could repair a rusted out ‘57 Chevy with only a screwdriver, his aunt said.
“He was full of ideas on creating things with power,” she said. “He was so enthusiastic about things ... he loved being in the shop with his dad.”
Cindy Bruce said that the number of people who showed up at this week’s ceremony, a full year after Jonathan’s death, shows that he was well liked in the community.
Family and friends continue to urge anyone who has information about the case to come forward to police. Shelkie – who attended the ceremony – said that the evidence is “leading us to believe it was probably a homicide.”
“We’ve been working on it daily since (the body was found),” she added. “We have a lot of members working on it and investigating it daily ... we’ve become close with the family, and we want to be there for them.”
But Cindy Bruce said she “doesn’t know what more the police need.”
“They know who was with him, they know where it happened,” she said. “They had their autopsy done ... I don’t know what’s missing still.”
“It’s not just trying to keep his memory alive,” Cindy Bruce said. “It’s trying to get justice for him.”