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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (16)
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 14, 1997
Date of arrest: 1 week after
Date of birth: April 26, 1981
Victim profile: Reena Virk (female, 14)
Method of murder: Drowning
Location: Saanich, British Columbia, Canada
Status: Sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole 7 years on June 18, 1999. Released on parole June 23, 2010

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Racism, "Girl Violence" and the murder of Reena Virk by Sheila Batacharya

Warren Glowatski (born April 26, 1981 in Medicine Hat, Alberta) is a Canadian man convicted in the high-profile murder case of Reena Virk.

Glowatski's parents were never married, but stayed together in order to raise him. His mother, however, was an alcoholic which caused Warren's father to leave her in 1996. When they were together Warren and his parents moved around frequently; he lived in Estevan and Regina, Saskatchewan, and Castlegar, British Columbia etc.

In 1996, with his father only, Warren moved to Nanaimo, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. By 1997 they finally settled, in a trailer home, near the southern tip of the Island in Saanich, British Columbia. At 15 Warren fell in love with his classmate Syreeta Hartely.

But in the summer of 1997, Warren's father married a woman he met in Las Vegas, Nevada. She had a home in southern California and Warren's father was going to move into it. He invited Warren to move with him, but Warren didn't want to leave his girlfriend behind. His father left for California as Warren lived alone in the trailer. His father would send him cheques several times a month to live on. Syreeta's mother would cook meals for him and wash his clothes.

The Crime

On Friday November 14, 1997 teenagers, mostly those attending Shoreline Secondary School, had gathered around for a party underneath the Craigflower Bridge. The bridge was near an inlet locals dubbed the Gorge. Suddenly a group of seven girls start punching and kicking on a girl, whom Glowatski did not know.

For unknown reasons, Warren approached the fight and twice kicked the victim in the head. A friend of Warren's told him to stop it "this isn't your fight" as he would tell the court. The fight lasted 3-5 minutes, until one girl finally called for the beating to stop. The victim, Reena Virk, bruised and bleeding staggered across the bridge to make her way home.

The group of girls, who were beating her, took her backpack away from her. They dumped its contents into the water and street. Most of the crowd went home, however, Warren and another girl Kelly Ellard stayed behind and followed Virk. It's unknown what kind of exchange they had, but a second and fatal beating ensued.

According to Glowatski, Ellard smashed Reena's face into a tree knocking her out. With Glowatski's help Ellard dragged Reena into the water, but Reena awoke and started fighting with Ellard. Ellard held her head beneath the water drowning her until she stopped fighting. Warren and Kelly left the crime scene without speaking a word.


Glowatski and the seven girls were arrested one week after the beating and murder. Six of the girls were convicted of assault causing bodily harm and aggravated battery with sentences ranging from two months to a year depending on their involvement. In 1999, Warren was convicted of second degree murder and given a life sentence. But because Warren was 16, at the time, he comes up for parole every 7 years. In November 2004, he was denied his first chance at parole. The Virks did not contest the parole, because Glowatski has expressed remorse and responsibility for his part of the murder.


  • Glowatski was into gangster rap and affiliated himself with the local Crips. He was initiated into the group, in 1996, by enduring a beating the gang members gave him. Around school he was known for wearing the gang's trademark colors.

  • Glowatski now admits that his gang affiliation and love for violent music most likely fueled his partnership with Kelly Ellard.

  • Syreeta Hartley, Warren's girlfriend, was also underneath the bridge that night but she felt sick and left before the first fight took place. Warren offered to take her home, but she declined. She regrets not telling him yes.

  • In 2000 for Kelly Ellard's first trial Warren refused to testify against her citing that doing so would endanger his life in prison. The judge charged him with one count of contempt of court. Warren received an extra five years for the charge. He later testified in her second and third trials.


  • Godfrey, Rebecca Under the Bridge Publisher Simon & Schuster 2005, September 20.


The murder of Reena Virk: A timeline

CBC News Online

April 13, 2005

July 7, 2005
Justice Robert Bauman sentences Kelly Ellard to life in prison, calling Reena Virk's death a senseless and remorseless crime. Ellard must serve seven years before she can seek parole.

April 12, 2005:
Third trial finds Kelly Ellard guilty of second degree murder in the death of Reena Virk.

April 7, 2005:
A third jury begins deliberating the fate of Kelly Ellard.

April 6, 2005:
Final arguments wrap up in Ellard's third trial. Ellard's lawyer attacks the testimony of key crown witnesses, saying almost every one of them described new memories after being prodded by the police and the Crown. The Crown prosecutor argued that as a whole, the testimony points to Ellard as a murderer.

March 17, 2005:
The crown's key witness Warren Glowatski describes how he and Ellard followed Virk as she staggered away from a group of teens. He testified that he and Ellard beat Virk and left her for dead in a waterway.

Feb. 21, 2005:
Kelly Ellard goes on trial for a third time, accused of killing Reena Virk. It is more than seven years after Virk was swarmed and beaten by a group of teenagers. Ellard was 15 when she was first charged. She's now 22.

Nov. 19, 2004:
Warren Glowatski is denied day parole.

July 18, 2004:
Justice Selwyn Romilly declares a mistrial in Ellard's second-degree murder trial after jurors says they are deadlocked. "All things must come to an end. That time is now," the jury wrote.

July 14, 2004:
Jury begins its deliberations in the murder trial of Kelly Ellard, accused of killing Reena Virk in 1997, when they were both teenagers.

July 9, 2004:
Ellard defence rests its case after its last witness testifies that Warren Glowatski, convicted of second degree murder in the case, paid her to spread stories that Ellard had killed Virk.

July 8, 2004 :
Ellard finishes her third day of testimony, still denying she killed Virk, but saying, "I'm obviously going to be convicted. You've got what you want, my life is ruined."

July 6, 2004:
Ellard admits to punching Virk, but says she did so because she thought Virk was going to hurt one of her friends. She denies drowning her in the tidal inlet.

June 30, 2004 :
A pathologist testifies that Virk's death was due to drowning. He also says that if Virk had not drowned, she may not have survived because of a serious head injury.

June 29, 2004:
Glowatski, convicted of second-degree murder in Virk's death, denies killing her, but says he watched Ellard drown her. Ellard lawyer says Glowatski lied repeatedly in his initial statements to police and at his own trial.

June 16-22, 2004 :
In five days of testimony, several witnesses come forward to say Ellard admitted to killing to Virk.

June 14, 2004:
A second trial opens for Kelly Ellard, charged with second-degree murder in the swarming death of 14-year-old Reena Virk almost seven years earlier.

March 4, 2004:
Ellard's bail is revoked a month after she is charged with assault causing bodily harm in connection with the beating of a 58-year-old woman in a Vancouver park. Ellard is ordered back into custody.

Feb. 4, 2003:
The B.C. Court of Appeal orders a new trial for Ellard, now 21 years old. The court ruled the Crown failed to give her a fair trail by asking Ellard 18 times why witnesses would give false testimony against her. Ellard was testifying in her own defence. Ellard freed on bail pending her appeal had served 18 months of a life sentence for second-degree murder.

Nov. 29, 2001:
Warren Glowatski, the second teen to be convicted of second-degree murder in Virk's death, loses his appeal. The B.C. Court of Appeal rules Glowatski actively took part in Virk's killing.

Nov. 15, 2000 :
Reena Virk's parents sue the teens arrested in connection with the attack on their daughter, the B.C. government and several others. "Society doesn't make people take responsibility for their actions. This is one way to make them responsible," Manjit Virk, Reena's father, said.

April 21, 2000:
A judge rules Ellard must spend at least five years behind bars before she can apply for parole. Ellard was 15 when she was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The case was tried in adult court. Had she been 18 or older when she took part in Virk's killing, she would have had to serve at least 10 years before being eligible for parole.

March 31, 2000:
Ellard is convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Virk. The 17-year-old-girl is led from the courtroom before she can say good-bye to her parents, to begin serving a life sentence. Prosecutors had described Ellard as the most aggressive in the group of girls who attacked Virk. The defence portrayed Ellard as the victim of a conspiracy by a group of young girls who were out to protect themselves.

March 9, 2000:
The second-degree murder trial of Kelly Ellard opens in Vancouver. It's the third trial connected to the killing of Reena Virk.

June 18, 1999 :
Warren Glowatski is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole seven years for second-degree murder in the death of Reena Virk. Justice Malcolm MacAuley says Glowatski would have a better chance at participating in programs and receiving an education at the federal institution of Matsqui than he would at a youth facility.

June 2, 1999:
Warren Glowatski is convicted of second degree murder in the death of Reena Virk.

May 13, 1999 :
The Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear an appeal by Kelly Ellard's lawyers to have her case tried in youth court. She will be tried as an adult.

May 3, 1999:
Warren Glowatski admits he took part in the beating of Reena Virk but insists he did not kill her.

April 12, 1999:
Trial of Warren Glowatski opens in Vancouver. He was 17 when he was accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Reena Virk. The judge rules against a publication ban on the details of the case.

April to May 1998:
Six girls - aged 14 to 16 - receive sentences ranging from 60 days conditional to one year in jail for their parts in the initial beating of Reena Virk.

Feb. 13, 1998:
Three teenaged girls are convicted of lesser charges of assault causing bodily harm.

Feb. 9, 1998:
The first of the trials in beating and drowning of Reena Virk opens in Vancouver. Three teenaged girls plead guilty to charges of assault causing bodily harm. Three other teenaged girls go to trial on charges of aggravated assault.

Nov. 22, 1997:
Police divers find the body of Reena Virk in a shallow tidal pool, about one kilometre from where she was last beaten.

Nov. 21, 1997:
Warren Paul Glowatski is arrested and charged with the murder of Reena Virk. Seven teenaged girls also face charges ranging from assault to murder.

Nov. 14, 1997 :
Reena Virk, 14, is swarmed and beaten under a bridge in Saanich on Vancouver Island by a group of teenagers, mainly girls. Battered and bloodied, she manages to get up and stagger across the bridge toward a bus stop to make her way home. Two of the original attackers drag her back and beat her again and leave her in Victoria's Gorge waterway. That's where police find her body eight days later. Witnesses later testified that one of the accused bragged that she had one foot on Virk's head and smoked a cigarette as Virk lay in the water.



Reena Virk (March 10, 1983 November 14, 1997) was a resident of Saanich, British Columbia, Canada. Her bullying and murder attracted substantial media attention in Canada.

Virk was first swarmed by seven females and one male. Moments later the single male and one of the females administered an additional beating and murdered her. The Globe and Mail commented at the time that her case had been "elevated into a national tragedy".

Canadian sociologists have described the case as a watershed moment for a "moral panic" over girl violence by the Canadian public in the late 1990s. Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski were given life sentences after being convicted of Virk's second-degree murder. The names of the six girls involved in Virk's first beating are concealed.

The murder case has been the subject of an award-winning and bestselling book, Under the Bridge (2005) by Rebecca Godfrey, and partly inspired a monologue play, The Shape of a Girl (2001), by Joan MacLeod. and The Beckoners by Carrie Mac. The film rights for the book Under the Bridge have been purchased by Type A Productions for adaptation into a movie.

The victim

Reena Virk was a girl who came from a large extended family who had emigrated from India to Canada. An article in Saturday Night described her immediate family as "a minority within a minority", as they were of the Jehovah's Witness religion in the local East Indian community of 3,000 which was predominantly Sikh. Reena Virk was a heavy girl, so Warren and Kelly had both had to be part of her dragging and could not have been possible without the help of them both. Virk has also been described as a girl who was desperate for acceptance amongst her peers, but was teased and/or ostracized by these girls whose subculture was influenced by Los Angeles street gangs.

At the beginning of her adolescence, Virk had become estranged from her family. She began to rebel against her immediate family and their strict religious beliefs. She began to smoke, disobey family rules and spent a few days at a group foster home where she first came into contact with the local youth gang culture to which she became attracted. There also had been allegations that she may have been sexually abused by her father though the charges (filed in January 1996) had been stayed in court and after leaving home for six weeks, Virk returned home.

The crime

On the evening of Friday November 14th, 1997, Reena Virk was invited to "party" at a location used for gatherings of teenagers near the Craigflower Bridge, which is located west of the city of Victoria. Virk, who had already been having difficulty fitting in with her schoolmates, decided to accept the invitation.

While at the bridge, it is claimed that teenagers talked amongst themselves, drank, and smoked marijuana. Virk was swarmed upon by eight adolescents, seven girls and one boy.

Witnesses said that one of the girls stubbed out a cigarette on Virk's forehead, and that while seven or eight others stood by and watched, Virk was repeatedly hit, punched and kicked. She was found to have several cigarette burns on her skin, and apparently attempts were made to set her hair on fire.

The fight ended when one of the girls told the others to stop. Virk managed to walk away, but was followed by two members of the original group, Ellard and Glowatski. The pair dragged Virk back under the bridge, made her remove her shoes and jacket, and beat her a second time. It is believed that Ellard forced Virk's head under the water and held it there with her foot until Virk stopped struggling.

Despite an alleged pact amongst the people involved not to "rat each other out", by the following Monday, rumors of the alleged murder spread throughout Shoreline Secondary School, where Virk was a student. Several students and teachers had heard the rumors, but no one came forward to report it to the police.

The rumors were confirmed eight days later, on November 22, 1997, when police divers found Virk's partially clothed body washed ashore at the Gorge Inlet, a major waterway on Vancouver Island.

The coroner ruled the death was by drowning. However, an autopsy later revealed that Virk had sustained several fractures, and that the head injuries were severe enough to have killed her if she had not been drowned. Virk was 14 years old at the time of her death.

Possible motives

"Under the Bridge" details some of the motives that may have led to Virk's death. Two of the girls convicted in the initial beating allege that Virk stole one of the girl's phone book and started calling her friends and spreading vicious rumors about her. The girl stubbed her cigarette on Virk's forehead. The other girl was angry with Virk for stealing her boyfriend. Virk, who once lived with the two girls in a youth group home, may have done those things in order to assert herself as a "tough girl".

The book also reveals Virk was initially considered a runaway when her mother first reported her missing to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Two Russian sisters, who lived in the youth group home, were prompted to call the police upon hearing that Virk was most likely dead.

The murder case of Reena Virk: A timeline

  • February 9, 1998, three teenaged girls plead guilty to assault causing bodily harm for their roles in the attack.

  • February 13, 1998, three more teenaged girls were convicted of assault causing bodily harm.

  • Between April and May 1998, six teenaged girls were sentenced for their roles in beating Virk. All of the names are withheld due to the ages they were when the crime was perpetrated.

  • June 1999, Warren Glowatski, the only male involved in the crime, was tried as an adult and convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years.

  • March 9, 2000, Kelly Marie Ellard was tried and convicted of second-degree murder; her case was raised to adult court where she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of full parole for five years.

  • November 15, 2000, 3 years and 1 day after the murder of Reena Virk, her parents, Manjit and Suman Virk, sued the teenagers who took part in the beating, the BC government, and several other people.

  • February 4, 2003, the BC Court of Appeal announced that due to improprieties in the way Ellard was questioned during her first trial, a new trial would be ordered.

  • March 4, 2004 While awaiting the second trial in the Virk murder, Ellard was charged in an unrelated assault and beating of a 58 year old Vancouver, BC woman. Because of the bail violation, Ellard's bail was revoked and she was taken back into custody.

  • June 14, 2004 The second murder trial begins.

  • Between June 16 and June 22, several witnesses including Glowatski testified that Ellard had admitted to killing Virk. It was said that Ellard bragged about "finishing (Virk) off" and had actually conducted tours to the murder scene.

  • July 6, Ellard admitted to taking part of the initial beating but only for self-defense. Throughout the trial, Ellard was given to sarcasm or throwing tantrums in the witness box while denying her part in the crime. In one infamous instance during the second trial, Ellard said to the proscecutor "I'm obviously going to be convicted," She then dissolved into tears saying "My life is over. You got what you wanted. I'm going to be convicted."

  • July 18, 2004, a mistrial was declared in Ellard's second trial after the jury declared it was deadlocked 11-1.

  • February 21, 2005, Kelly Ellard's third trial re-opens.

  • April 12, 2005 Ellard was found guilty of second degree murder. She was given an automatic life sentence. Her lawyers are considering filing an appeal.

  • July 20, 2006 After serving nearly 9 years of a life sentence, Warren Glowatski is granted unescorted temporary passes by the National Parole Board, moving him a step closer to becoming part of society. The Virk family support the decision.

  • August 9, 2006, Ellard appealed her conviction, asking for a fourth trial or an acquittal.


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