By Wendy Elliott
Nancy Tracey is Leslie Conrad’s sister.
“Les and I were very close growing up - I always felt as if she was my child, somehow.”
In her new book, Tracey describes meeting her sister, who was nine years younger, and “the bonding which occurred the first time I saw her - how she wired my heart to love her.”
That early childhood experience fueled Tracey’s writing of The First Five Years: Nurturing Your Child’s Ability to Learn.
Conrad disappeared from her Wolfville home Oct. 5, 2006; her remains were found on Melanson Road Nov. 22. An investigation into her homicide is ongoing.
After her sister was killed, Tracey transformed her grieving into a passion to prevent another such tragedy.
“I knew it would honour her if the tragedy of her loss could be transformed into prevention.”
According to Tracey, “many people in the Annapolis Valley and here in Lunenburg County where I live are still very upset about Les' murder and the fact it remains unsolved.”
After the shock of Conrad’s body being discovered, she recalled a sense of searing tragedy. “I found it important to keep going back into memories of her remarkable qualities.”
She remembered her 45-year-old sister intensely disliked injustice.
“She was one who wanted to change the world; our conversations often focused on positive change.”
Motherhood was one of Conrad’s passions. Tracey said she spent much of her time taking her four children to events they were involved in. The kids were aged 10 to 22 at the time of Conrad’s death and each of them was strongly connected to their mother.
The family, which also includes Tracey’s two siblings and elderly parents, has never given up hope that someone who knows what happened will come forward and share what they know with police.
Tracey voices her concern that her sister’s killer “is walking around the streets and they haven’t had treatment.”
She realizes the police face limitations, but she said she believes there will never be absolute closure unless her sister’s killer is “getting really good psychological help or medication. That would be great.”
The teacher has researched the roots of violence “The seeds of violence are often planted in the earliest years of life,” she said.
“One way I tried to deal with the pain of her loss was to work toward understanding how someone could develop into a person who could take another’s life. I discovered potential for violent behaviour, like so many things, can be influenced by one’s genes. But hope lies in knowing that whether or not a genetic tendency develops into deviant behaviour is greatly influenced by whether or not a child is abused early in life.”
Tracey’s hope with the book is, “that Les and I are sending it out into the world helping protect other families from this pain.
“My dream is to create peace in her memory - for all the women and children who are still with us.”
The provincial government has offered a reward of up to $150,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for Conrad’s murder. Any person with information can call the Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes Program at 1-888-710-9090.