Homicide shocks Salmon Arm

Pamela Jones: Family, friends remember the kind-hearted mother and former teacher.

Pamela Jones

Family and friends of murder victim Pamela Jones are wondering what possible motive someone could have for killing the retired typing teacher, who lived a quiet life and “was always friendly to everyone.”

Jones, 73, was found face down Thursday, Aug. 11 in the carport of her residence at 4780 10th Ave. SE, where she had only recently moved into a basement suite.

Police and ambulance were called to the home at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 11. Authorities, friends and family initially believed her death was natural; however, because a cause of death was not immediately identifiable, the RCMP opened an investigation. Members of the RCMP Forensic Identification Service were called in to process the scene and  officers from the RCMP’s major Crime Unit also attended to assist.

After the completion of a forensic autopsy on Monday, the death was determined to be suspicious in nature and the case became a homicide investigation.

Jones’ daughter Shelly Harris says the family is still trying to come to grips with the news.

“To lose a person is one thing, but to have them taken from you is another.”

Her friends and former teaching colleagues are also shaking their heads, wondering who could have possibly wanted to harm her.

“When we were first informed, we were told it was likely a heart attack or an aneurysm, because she was a heavy smoker. She’d had an aneurysm before, that’s why she left teaching,” said Terry Greenough, Jones’ friend and colleague from Shuswap Junior Secondary. “It was so abrupt to hear it was foul play. My first thought was from who? Who could have wanted to take Pam’s life? I can’t think of a soul.”

The cause of death is being withheld by the RCMP. Police are also refusing to speculate on a possible motive and will not say if they have any suspects in the case.

“It’s very shocking,” added another friend, Sue Ackerman. “I can’t believe it, can’t believe someone would do this to her. Or why? It just doesn’t make sense.”

Greenough remembers Jones as a hard-working single mother of five children, who enjoyed her job teaching subjects like typing and business classes at Shuswap Junior Secondary (now Shuswap Middle School) and Salmon Arm Senior Secondary. Jones first began teaching in Salmon Arm in 1968.

Ackerman also emphasizes Jones was a dedicated teacher who genuinely liked her students, and who was completely devoted to raising her own family.

“She was a very determined woman who did things her way. She was very social and liked to be around people,” says Ackerman.

Harris says her mother always put her children first and would generously do anything to help them out. But her caring and concern for people went beyond the bounds of family, as Jones “adopted” people or animals she thought needed some care or attention.

“She had the biggest, most forgiving heart. She would give anything to anyone who might need it — anything. Her generosity went so deep,” she says, as her voice breaks with emotion. “She always made people feel important and she made sure they knew that they were important, that someone cared about them.”

Harris recalls how on a family trip her mother saw a sad, grubby boy sitting on a curb.

“As she went past, she spoke a few words and handed him $20. When I asked her why, she said it was because she hoped someone would do that for her son if he ever needed it.”

Jones enjoyed scuba diving, loved to travel and cook. She was thrilled to take a trip to Thailand after her children were grown. Jones grew up in Texas and went to school at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. She taught school in Idaho before coming to Salmon Arm.

“And she made the best chili for all the staff parties. Everyone always loved that,” said Greenough.

He also recalled the time she hit a moose head-on on Foothill Road.

“I remember her saying at the time, you just never know what’s going to cross your path.”

A service for Jones is planned for 1 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Jackson Campus of Salmon Arm Secondary.