Renée Sweeney's closest living relative — her younger sister Kim Sweeney — has created car decals honouring the memory of the 23-year-old Laurentian University music student who was murdered 21 years ago.
In the wake of a long-hoped-for crack in the case, Kim Sweeney said she's hoping as many people as possible display the decals on their car.
“I just wanted to honour my sister after all this time,” she said.
The decals feature the words 'Honouring Renée', a heart with a treble clef (symbolizing her love of music), and the year 1998 (the year of her death).
They are available at the Pet Valu locations in both Val Caron and the Southridge Mall, Herman's IDA in Sudbury and GS Graphics in Val Caron. There's no charge, although donations to the MS Society, Pet Save or SPCA Sudbury are appreciated.
Renée Sweeney was stabbed to death on Jan. 27, 1998, while working at Adults Only Video on Paris Street. The entire city was stunned Dec. 11, 2018 when Greater Sudbury Police made an arrest in her murder.
Robert Steven Wright, 39, of North Bay was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in Sweeney's death. He was an 18-year-old Lockerby Composite School student at the time of the murder.
A bail hearing for Wright was held last week, and will resume March 27 — Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau said he needed some time to decide whether he should grant Wright bail.
Kim Sweeney said she can't speak publicly right now about what's going on with the case, although she did issue a statement through Greater Sudbury Police shortly after Wright's arrest.
She said she's overwhelmed by the support she's already received for her project to honour her sister.
“I'm happy because it's about time, and it's been a long time, and we can honour her,” Sweeney said, adding that she's created hundreds of the decals, and there's already been a big demand.
“People know the story and people remember the story, and I just want to honour her, that's it. Plain and simple.”
Sweeney describes her sister as outgoing, friendly, with a love for life and music.
“She was just a great person, and I miss her,” she said. “I think she'd be overwhelmed at the response we're getting for this. I guess you could say she was humble. She would really feel the love with this.”
Renée and Kim's cousin, Jill Sauvé, who was still in town earlier this week after coming to support her family during last week's court proceedings, said it was a huge shock when she found out her cousin had been murdered all those years ago.
“I couldn't even comprehend it was real,” Sauvé said. “It was one of those things where my mind kind of turned off. The day I got the news, I kind of just sat there in shock.”
Sauvé said she was very close with her cousins growing up, as they lived on the same street, and saw each other every day as youngsters.
Renée “loved people, everyone loved her,” Sauvé said. “She was just so outgoing, and if there was anyone you wanted to be like, you wanted to be like Renée.”
The car decal project keeps “the real Renée alive,” she said. “Everyone is focused with the event itself,” Sauvé said. “We want to remember Renée the person, her love for life.”