If you liked ‘Under the Bridge’, read ‘Reena: A Father’s Story’

The horrifying killing of fourteen-year-old Reena Virk at the hands of her peers in 1997 shocked and stunned the public.

This callous act of violence drew nation-wide attention to bullying and cast a spotlight on Virk’s mourning parents, Manjit and Suman, who had already been let down by social services and law enforcement by the time of their daughter’s murder.

Who was Reena Virk?

In Reena: A Father’s Story, published in 2008, Manjit Virk spoke for the first time about life before and after his daughter’s murder. Reena Virk’s murder is a tragedy that remains one of Canada’s most harrowing murder cases, which fundamentally shifted the national conversation around bullying and girl violence.

“More than a decade has passed since Reena’s murder,” writes her father, “but a lingering sadness has become a part of my life, not only because of losing my daughter, but also because I see that there has been no learning from that tragic experience: young lives are still being lost due to ongoing bullying, aggression and violence.”

how much is true in under the bridge

Reena: A Father’s Story discusses the failure of the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development as well as the provincial justice system. At the time of her death, Reena was under the voluntary care of the Ministry. She had falsely accused Manjit of physical assault (but later recanted) as a means to avoid her family’s strict rules.

No apology was given or responsibility taken by the Ministry. Frustration with the legal system is one of the reasons Manjit spent a year writing Reena: A Father’s Story, to share how his daughter’s death has affected both his life and his family.

This is a powerful story of an immigrant family’s struggles to make a new life in a new country, the cultural clashes they endured, the anguish they experienced over their loss of their child, and, ultimately, their perseverance in the face of unspeakable tragedy and public scrutiny.

This true crime story brought international attention to teenage bullying and child violence.

Suman, Reena’s mother, and Manjit also became strong champions for anti-bullying campaigns and discussions.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Suman said, “If I don’t forgive them, then I will be behaving in the same way that they did when they had no forgiveness for Reena on the night that they murdered her.”

‘Under the Bridge’ showrunners drew from Manjit Virk’s memoir for the television series

Reena Virk was swarmed and beaten by a group of teenagers and drowned in the Gorge waterway in Saanich, British Columbia, near the capital of Victoria. The mini-series was adapted from Rebecca Godfrey’s book, Under the Bridge, and premiered in April 2024. Showrunners also consulted Manjit Virk’s book for further background.

“This is the story of an average family that has never been the same . . . since its eldest child was swarmed and killed by her peers on a moonlit night, November 14, 1997 . . . It is the story of what sudden and horrific violence can do to a family, and how a family somehow remains intact in the face of such events,” says Lynne Van Luven in the prologue.

reena virk's story in under the bridge

What happened to Reena Virk?

“It was a new low in the “bad girls” syndrome that seemed to be engulfing North America,” the book introduction stated. “At least six trials spread over seven years have kept the story in the public eye and raised awareness of the victim, the attackers and a social-services system that failed both the dead girl and her family.”

“I sympathize with today’s parents for the many challenges they face raising their children,” writes Manjit Virk, in Reena: A Father’s Story. “I truly believe that if you as a parent are doing your part, you are not to blame for the actions and choices of your children. I consciously remind myself that children have free will just like all of us, and they choose their own course in life.”



what happened to reena virk