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DNA confirms identity of human remains from Vancouver Island as BC Interior man, missing for decades

BC RCMP and the BC Coroners Service continue to see results in their partnership reviewing and revisiting historical missing person’s cases, with yet another missing person case that dates back to 1967 now solved through DNA profiling.

In May 2021 it would have been 54 years since the unexplained disappearance of a man from the BC Interior, who was last seen in Coquitlam BC on May 27, 1967. The man’s family reported his disappearance to their local police in Kamloops who launched an investigation, which spanned decades. The man was just 41 years of age at the time he disappeared.

According to investigative reports, on August 20, 1972 unidentified human remains were recovered on a beach of Saturna Island, which is part of the Canadian Gulf Islands, within the Strait of Georgia off the coast of the BC Lower Mainland. An identity was not established, despite an autopsy of those remains in the 70s. Those remains were buried on Salt Spring Island, until their exhumation in September 2020.

After a lengthy scientific process performed at a British Columbia laboratory, complicated by the degradation of the remains, a DNA profile of the deceased was finally obtained, said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, spokesperson for the BC RCMP. As a result of a comparison, conducted by our partners with the BC Coroners Service Special Investigations Unit, an identity for the deceased was established thanks to the detailed work of investigators who had obtained a sample of familial DNA for comparison. The DNA had been gathered from the missing’s daughter, during a fulsome file review conducted by the RCMP Southeast District Missing Person Coordinator back in 2014.

That historical missing person file review in 2014 also resulted in the case being transferred to the Coquitlam RCMP, who assumed police of jurisdiction in the ongoing investigation into the man’s disappearance.

Through scientific advancements in identification processes, we are now able to solve such historic cases. In this instance, we were able to piece together the puzzle that had been challenging us on Salt Spring Island since in 1972. The partnership we have garnered over the years with both the police and the BCIT lab makes success possible. Through collaboration, we are able to work as one team with the ultimate goal to provide families the closure they had been seeking for more than fifty years, said Eric Petit, Director of the BC Coroners Service Special Investigations Unit.

The BC RCMP wishes to extend its condolences to the man’s family and asks the media to please respect their privacy.

The family, who wished to maintain anonymity shared the following message; Thank-you from the family to all RCMP members, the coroners, and the team involved in dedicating their time and efforts to bring this missing persons case to a close.

For media inquiries contact:

BC RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey by email at jesse.odonaghey@rcmp-grc.gc.ca or by phone at 250-491-4317

BC Coroners Service media relations by email at coronermedia@gov.bc.ca or by phone at 778-676-2703