What happened to Reena Virk? The true story behind Hulu's Under the Bridge 

Under the Bridge
Vritika Gupta as Reena Virk in Under the Bridge (Imaga via Hulu)

The latest American true crime limited series from Hulu, Under the Bridge, details the murder case of a 14-year-old Indo-Canadian girl, Reena Virk. The show follows Golden Globe winner, Lily Gladstone, taking on the role of a fictional local investigator by the name of Cam Bentland.

Under the Bridge is based on a 2005 eponymous book written by Canadian novelist, the late Rebecca Godfrey. The narrative revolves around Reena Virk's death as she was beaten up and drowned by fellow teenagers part of a group called The Shoreline Six in 1997. Reena Virk's body was found eight days later in the Gorge Waterway in Saanich, as per People Magazine.

The official synopsis for the Hulu show sets the context for how the teenager went missing in British Columbia:

"Reena Virk, a fourteen-year-old girl, went to join friends at a party and never returned home. Seven teenage girls and a boy were accused of the savage murder."

The true story behind the murder is one that gained nationwide importance two decades ago.

Trigger warning: This article contains mention of bullying, violence, assault, and murder.


How was Reena Virk murdered?

In November 1997, Reena Virk, a teenager from Saanich, received an invitation from her schoolmates and two of her foster care friends to a party that was supposed to be held behind their school. The location was soon shifted to a place near Craigflower Bridge in British Columbia.

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Per The Independent, Virk was approached by Nicole Cook who was part of a group nicknamed The Shoreline Six. Cook confronted Virk about allegedly stealing her phone book and spreading rumors about the former. Cook put out her cigarette on Virk's forehead and the rest of the gang beat her up. The attackers included Missy Pleich, Warren Glowatski, and Kelly Ellard.

As Reena made her way out of the assault and to the bus stop, Ellard and Glowatski followed her to attack her again. Reena was dragged to the Gorge Waterway where she was held underwater till she drowned, as per The Globe and Mail.

Reena's partially clothed body was recovered eight days later on November 22, 1997, on the shore of Gorge Inlet. An autopsy conducted revealed multiple injuries to her abdomen and back and blows that were consistent with convulsions.

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Reena Virk's ethnic roots explored

Reena Virk, who served as an inspiration for Hulu's new true crime drama, was a resident of the city of Saanich on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Virk's family was of Indian descent as her father, Manjit Virk, emigrated to Canada while her mother, Suman Virk, was from an Indo-Canadian family.

The Virk family members were Hindus who had reportedly converted to Jehovah's Witnesses, further turning them into a minority within a minority in their South Asian community. The same community comprised of her immediate family who were Sikhs turned into Jehovah's Witnesses.

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According to People magazine, Reena shared a difficult relationship with her parents. She often rebelled against them, feeling restricted by her family's devoutness to religion. Bullied by her classmates for her origin, religion, physical attributes, and appearance, Reena felt a strong need to fit in.

Rebecca Godfrey, the author from Victoria who was closely associated with the case, wrote about how Reena had her father reported in 1996 under false allegations of s**ual assault. Reena was successful in her plan as she was placed in foster care temporarily, but was sent back as the charges against Manjit were dropped.

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The first two episodes of Under the Bridge premiered on April 17, 2024, on Hulu.

Edited by DEEPALI
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