September time to remember murdered daughter

By Cherie Taylor

At times Val Burr thinks she only dreamed about having a loving daughter then reality sinks in and she suddenly remembers her darling child was murdered by someone who just wanted to steal her car.

On Saturday it was 10 years since a pregnant 21-year-old Tanya Jeanine Burr was murdered in her Hilda St flat by 17-year-old John Wharekura, who was sentenced in May 2003 to life with a 14-year non parole period.

Ms Burr told The Daily Post September was an exceptionally hard month for her as she dealt with the death of her parents who died in September 1995 and September 1999 and Tanya on September 15, 2002.

Every year Ms Burr places a memoriam in The Daily Post for her daughter.

"It's come to the stage where I'm left thinking is it my imagination. Did I really have a child? Then the next thing she is here in my mind and the whole thing is happening again."

Taking her daughter's red Honda Integra back from police after Wharekura abandoned it at Turangi/Taupo, believing it had run out gas, Ms Burr drives it every day now.

However, she has called the car Spooky because of the "freaky" things the car does like stopping suddenly or refusing to start again after stopping.

Once when she was playing the song played at Tanya's funeral in the car while visiting her grave, the stereo turned off, only turning back on as she drove out of the cemetery, she said.

"That car has done some strange and freaky things. When it was stolen it conked out and the guy couldn't get it started again and left it thinking it had run out of gas. But when it was towed to Rotorua it had enough gas in it to get to a petrol station."

However, since having the car's computer chip replaced, it has gone without a hitch."It's really weird."

She knows her daughter's killer could be freed in just four years but she doesn't hold much hope of him making any drastic changes to turn his life around.

Ms Burr is now a community committee member for the Palmerston North Youth Justice Facility. "I won't be welcoming him at the gate. I'd hope he has done something incredible towards positive change but my gut feeling is he hasn't. "

- Rotorua Daily Post

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