Prince Albert police hope billboard campaign across prairies helps solve historical missing person cases
Published Thursday, May 20, 2021 11:15AM CST Last Updated Thursday, May 20, 2021 9:19PM CST
PRINCE ALBERT -- The Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) has launched a billboard campaign across Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba in hopes of finding answers in nine historical missing person cases.
The names and photos of each missing person are being displayed in 20 communities, including Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg, from May 10 to 23.
One of the nine missing people is Timothy Charlette, who was last seen in 2014 on the train bridge, overlooking the North Saskatchewan River.
His sister, Colleen Whitedeer, said while it’s good to see her brother’s photo on the billboards, the city needs to take on more preventative measures to improve its relationship with Indigenous people.
“That still doesn’t fill the void and the unanswered and not knowing parts for our family,” said Whitedeer.
“I think more needs to be done.”
She said Charlette “fell through the cracks,” struggling with addictions and homelessness. Despite these hardships, she said, he still kept in touch with his family every day, especially his mom.
“That last day, before he went missing on Oct. 8, he had called my mom that day, that evening, and that was the last time she had spoken to him.”
Sgt. Kathy Edwardsen is the lead investigator for historical crimes and long-term missing person files for PAPS. She said billboards can reach people who don’t use social media, and that the police service has received tips indicating the clues to some of these cases may be in other provinces.
"Not only are we trying to reach out for those that might be witnesses to these missing persons on what might have happened, we're also trying to reach out for the people that could be responsible, reminding them that we're still looking for answers and that the families are suffering,” said Edwardsen.
“No amount of information is too small, and that little bit of information might be the detail we need to finally help family members learn what happened and find closure.”
Whitedeer said a different brother was murdered back in 1998. While she said her family has some closure on that case, there’s still a lot of lingering questions about Charlette.
“Every single day I wonder what happened to him.”
PAPS is investigating nine historical missing person cases:
- June Ann Johnson – Missing since Aug. 3, 1979. She was last seen leaving the former Marlboro Inn on 13th Street East.
- Robert Allan Wiggins – Missing since Jul. 28, 1980. He was last seen in the morning, just before sunrise, after getting a ride to a home in the 500 block of 11th Street East.
- Joseph Couldwell – Missing since May 25, 1981. He was last seen near the North Saskatchewan River.
- William Slywka – Missing since Nov. 7, 1982. He was last seen leaving North Park Centre and may have been around Little Red River Park.
- Samuel LaChance – Missing since July 29, 1987.
- Ernestine Kasyon – Missing since Dec. 6, 1989. She was last seen in the evening while using a payphone in the 100 block of 10th Street East.
- Norman James Halkett – Missing since Mar. 16, 2003.
- Timothy Charlette – Missing since Oct. 8, 2014. He was last seen on the train bridge overlooking the North Saskatchewan River.
- Happy Charles – Missing since Apr. 3, 2017. She was last seen near the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute.
The police service is also investigating the unsolved homicide of Jean LaChance, who was killed on Sept. 15, 1991 at 29 years old. The killer has not yet been charged, said police.