Dave Perritt always knew Mission was filled with strong, community-minded people, but events of the recent week have reinforced that belief.
Perritt owns Grab-A-Java Coffee House and Roasterie on Seventh Avenue, and Brittany, the sister of 18-year-old Rachel Pernosky who was found murdered last Tuesday, is one of his employees.
Since word first came about the teen’s disappearance, Grab-A-Java became a central meeting spot from which groups would head out to search and put up missing posters throughout the area.
And once the tragic news came of her death, close friends have been leaving flowers, candles and donations for Pernosky’s 18-month-old son, Marco.
“There’s been quite a large amount of support. It shows the sense of community we have in Mission,” said Perritt. “It didn’t surprise me, but it made me proud to be a Missionite.”
Dozens of people have been “coming out of the woodwork” and offering to help, he noted, including one woman who said she would knit clothes for Marco.
Perritt established an account through Envision Financial (account number 458 853 9) where people can directly deposit funds, and he has made several trips with hundreds of dollars collected from the jar at the coffee shop.
Before last Thursday’s public candlelight vigil at Fraser River Heritage Park which drew between 300-400 people, a smaller, private one was held at Grab-A-Java. About 30 people were present, said Perritt.
Mission RCMP first put out the missing person report about Rachel mid-afternoon March 18. She had last been seen around 12:30 a.m. March 17 at her home in the 7700 block of Kite Street. Her cell phone and purse were still inside the house.
A passerby in Chilliwack on Old Orchard Road happened upon the teen’s body March 19, and the file was turned over to the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT).
A press conference on March 19 saw IHIT spokesperson Sgt. Jennifer Pound say they do not have any suspects or motive, but believed the attack was not random.
“Rachel was just 18 years old and a mother of a baby when her life was brutally taken from her.
“The person(s) who murdered her have left a hole in the lives of those who loved her, and child who will be without his mom,” she said.
• For the most recent details, and photos from last week’s candlelight vigil, please visit missioncityrecord.com.