EntertainmentThe new series 'Under the Bridge' is based on a cruel true...

The new series ‘Under the Bridge’ is based on a cruel true story

On November 14, 1997, in the quiet suburbs of Victoria, capital of the province of British Columbia (Canada), 14-year-old Reena Virk was savagely beaten and drowned by a group of teenagers. The atrocious crime became a media sensation because, at that time, the violence involving girls and adolescents generated great commotion in society.

Rebecca Godfrey, writer from Victoria, was one of the people captivated by the terrible story of the young woman murdered in her hometown. While she was writing her first novel (The Torn Skirt, 2001), Godfrey received numerous calls from friends about the murder. “I returned home shortly after [de que había ocurrido el asesinato] and I went to prison,” he told the magazine Interview Magazine in 2019. “I was surprised to see that all the girls seemed like normal, nice teenagers, nothing about them made me think they were murderers.”

Over the next six years, Godfrey conducted extensive investigation, interviewed defendants, and witnessed trials. His search for the truth would be reflected in his 2005 book, Under the bridge.

Currently, the events detailed in the best seller of Godfrey’s non-fiction were captured in the new series Under the bridgeavailable on the Hulu content platform. Under the bridge centers on Godfrey’s investigation of Virk’s gruesome murder, starring Oscar-nominated actress Lily Gladstone (The Moon Killers) whose character is fictional investigator Cam Bentland, and by Riley Keough (Everyone loves Daisy Jones) like Godfrey herself.

Virk had been a victim of bullying at school, her classmates constantly teased her about her physical build, her appearance, and her religion. The daughter of an Indian father, Manjit, and an Indo-Canadian mother, Suman, both devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, Virk wanted to be accepted in her environment, which was mostly white boys and girls. In a desperate attempt to gain more freedom, she falsely reported her father for sexual harassment and was briefly placed in foster care in 1996. However, the charges were quickly dropped and she returned to the Virk home. her.

Reena Virk (family picture)

About a year later, a group of schoolmates invited Virk to a party; the young woman knew two of them through the foster care system. Excited by the invitation, she accepted without hesitation. The party, which started behind the school, moved to a nearby bridge known as Craigflower after police stormed the scene.

Around eleven p.m., a teenage girl approached Virk and accused her of spreading rumors. Suddenly, the young woman put out her cigarette on Virk’s forehead and in a short time she was joined by seven more attackers (six women and one man) between 14 and 16 years old, who began to kick and punch her. The attack continued until Virk managed to get up and stagger across the bridge, his intention being to get to the bus stop to go to his house.

Lily Gladstone as investigator Cam Bentland in Under the Bridge

Lily Gladstone as investigator Cam Bentland in Under the Bridge (Bettina Strauss/Hulu)

Two of the teenagers, Warren Glowatski (16) and Kelly Ellard (15), then dragged Virk back into the water, beat her and drowned her in Victoria’s River Gorge. Eight days later, authorities recovered her body. The autopsy report revealed “internal injuries to the back and abdomen consistent with kicks and stomping.”

In February 1998, six young women who had participated in the initial ambush, but who had not drowned Virk, were tried in juvenile court. The six were convicted of assault causing injury and given a suspended sentence of 60 days to one year in prison.

Virk’s murder trial began in 1999. Glowatski, then 18 years old, He was tried as an adult and convicted of second-degree murder. “Violence is not a game,” Judge Malcolm Macauley told Glowatski in court, “the death of Reena Virk and the lives that were irrevocably destroyed, including hers, are a clear example.” Glowatski was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years.

Riley Keough as Rebecca in Under the Bridge

Riley Keough as Rebecca in Under the Bridge (Darko Sikman/Hulu)

The following year saw the trial of Ellard, who was also tried as an adult and convicted of second-degree murder. However, the court overturned Ellard’s conviction on appeal and ordered a new trial. In the years that followed, Ellard, whose name is now Kerry Marie Sim, would be tried three more times for Virk’s murder, before the Supreme Court of Canada upheld her original life sentence in 2009.

Virk’s parents fought tirelessly for 12 years to have those responsible for their daughter’s death convicted. “For a long time our lives revolved around court bureaucracy, the pain of our murdered daughter and deferred sentences,” Virk’s mother Suman told Global News Canada in 2012. “It is as if our feelings and our grief have been blocked, only now do we feel how much this affected us, the emotions, the feelings.”

After seven years in federal prison, Glowatski was released on day parole in 2007, allowing him to participate in activities during the day and then return to prison or a halfway house at night. In 2010, when Glowatski was 29, he was granted full parole.

Vritika Gupta as Reena Virk in Under the Bridge

Vritika Gupta as Reena Virk in Under the Bridge (Darko Sikman/Hulu)

At the hearing, Glowatski, who underwent significant rehabilitation, told the court that he had been in contact with Virk’s parents and that they had forgiven him. “We don’t want to hear anything more about him. I hope that all this ends once and for all and that he really has turned his life around, for his sake and for ours,” Suman said at the time, according to CityNews Vancouver’s local news outlet. “Time has made a difference. I think the pain of grief and loss has dissipated, our lives have moved on. “We just became grandparents.”

Ellard, for her part, gave birth to her first child in 2016 after being allowed a conjugal visit with her boyfriend on federal parole. She gave birth again in 2022, but she declined the opportunity for full parole, explaining: “Given the circumstances, I am not prepared,” according to Saanich News. In 2023, he was still serving day parole. Unlike Glowatski, Ellard never made peace with Suman and Manjit and long insisted that he was innocent; Until in 2016, when asked by the probation office who was responsible for Virk’s death, Ellard finally responded: “I think it’s me.”

Virk’s grieving parents dedicated their lives to traveling the country and developing anti-violence campaigns and anti-bullying programs in Canadian schools.

“I cling to the idea that moving forward strengthens us. When I tell Reena’s story in schools and at different talks, many students come up to me to tell me that they have been bullied, others admit that they have bullied their classmates, and swear, through tears and apologies, that they will never do it again. , Manjit wrote in a 2019 op-ed for the The Globe and Mail. “I wish someone in the group had spoken up when they saw Reena suffering, and said, ‘This is wrong.’ That is why I raise my voice, so that our children also learn to raise their voices in the face of injustice. It is my duty to do it.”

Under the bridge It is available on the Hulu platform.

Translation of María Delia García

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