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‘I’m a basket case’: family of Manitoba woman killed on remote Scottish island searching for answers

Family and friends of a Manitoba woman killed on a remote Scottish island are struggling with grief and unanswered questions as they work to bring her home.

Claire Leveque, 24, was killed three weeks ago in the community of Sandness on the Shetland Islands — more than 100 kilometres from the Scottish mainland. Her boyfriend, Aren Pearson, 39, has been charged with murder.

The victim’s father, Clint Leveque, told 680 CJOB’s The News that he became worried when he couldn’t reach Claire and received unusual text messages from Pearson, who is a Shetland native.

He eventually reached out to local police to see if they could help.

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“I called the Shetland police on that island… I had an officer answer the phone and I said, ‘is my daughter OK, is my daughter alive?’ I had this gut feeling in my stomach,” he said.

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“He said, ‘Your daughter’s been stabbed, stabbed to death’… and my heart’s been pounding for three weeks now, I’ve got no answers. I’ve been a basket-case. I haven’t been able to work for three weeks. I haven’t been able to eat or sleep, it’s been terrible.”

Pearson has been charged with Claire’s murder and remains in police custody.

A fundraising campaign is currently underway to return Claire’s remains to Canada and pay for funeral expenses — as well as the cost of flying Clint to Scotland to witness Pearson’s trial.

According to a Scottish crime reporter, the remoteness of her murder site makes the whole investigation more complicated.

Claire Leveque. GoFundMe

“Very rarely do we find ourselves having to travel out to Shetland,” Graham Mann of the Scottish Sun told 680 CJOB’s The Jim Toth Show.

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“To give you an idea of how far away it is, it’s actually closer to Norway, as the crow flies, than it is to (Scotland’s) capital city, Edinburgh. It sits out in the Atlantic Ocean.

“If you live there for a long time, everybody seems to know each other’s business, but I don’t think Claire was there long enough really to make her presence felt in the local community, so there are a lot of unanswered questions.”

Family and friends advocating for Claire’s body to be returned home say they’re at the mercy of Scotland’s legal system, meaning it could be months before she can be laid to rest at home — although they have learned her remains have been moved to Edinburgh.

Clint said the outpouring of support from the residents of the Shetland Islands — a tiny region with a population of around 23,000 people — has been touching during such a difficult time.

Those well-wishes, Scottish reporter Mann said, typify the shock Shetland’s residents felt when they heard about a murder in their own backyard.

“It’s no surprise that a lot of local people, even if they didn’t know Claire, sent good wishes… that shows you that people have been touched by what’s happened and obviously they hope that, in the long run, justice is served.”

Click to play video: 'The deadly domestic abuse behind Manitoba’s 5 tragic murders'

The deadly domestic abuse behind Manitoba’s 5 tragic murders

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