Investigators from the RCMP’s “K” Division Historical Homicide Unit will continue with three separate investigations involving women who had initially been reported missing in Alberta but are believed by police to have been victims of homicide.
S/Sgt. Jason Zazulak, NCO i/c “K” Division HHU believes that these investigations will be solved and that the key pieces of information which will allow HHU investigators to identify the persons responsible for the deaths of these women are known by members of the public.
The three cases, although not believed to be related, span a period of about 30 years; from 1983 to 2013. The victims in each case are women, whose ages when reported missing varied from 16 years old to 70. Their remains have not been found.
The first case is that of Shelly Ann Bacsu, 16 when reported missing to Hinton RCMP on May 3, 1983.
She failed to return home from a friend’s residence in Hinton; a walk of seven kilometres which she had done many times before.
Family members became concerned when Shelly Ann did not arrive home by 9:30 that evening and when their own search failed to locate the teen by 11:30 p.m., they reported her missing to the RCMP detachment in Hinton.
Searches by the RCMP of the Town of Hinton and the surrounding rural area did not locate Shelly Ann, but police did find several of her belongings alongside the Athabasca River near the Town of Hinton. Investigators believe that Shelly Ann was killed.
Stephanie Stewart (70) was working at the Athabasca Fire Lookout Tower near Hinton as an employee of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development in the summer of 2006. Colleagues became concerned about her well-being when she failed to call in on the morning of Aug, 26, 2006.
A visit to Stephanie’s cabin revealed that all was not well and the RCMP was called in to investigate. Evidence at the scene led investigators to believe that Stewart had been murdered. Searches throughout the surrounding area and elsewhere failed to locate her.
It was on Nov. 30, 2013 when 44-year-old Deanna MacNeil was reported missing to the Vegreville RCMP detachment by a friend after she had not been heard from within the preceding 48 hours; something which the friend thought very unusual as Deanna was in the habit of contacting her several times a day.
The police investigation confirmed that Deanna had been seen in Mundare at the Servus Credit Union ATM, the Mundare Liquor Store and lastly at a friend’s place around 12:30 p.m. on the morning of Nov. 28, 2013. Police conducted several searches, including two extensive ones of the Mundare townsite, but Deanna was not located.
Friends and family have not had any contact from Deanna since she was reported missing. The RCMP believes that she was the victim of homicide.
“In each of these three cases, we know that there are people out there who have knowledge of what happened to Shelly Ann, Deanna and Stephanie. We want to hear from those people, whether it be through Crime Stoppers, through their local detachment or through our own social media channels.”
The rapid expansion and adoption of social media in many facets of the lives of Canadians has opened up the opportunity for the RCMP to receive new information about cases through the use of social media accounts held directly by the homicide investigators themselves.
Cpl. Kerry Shima of HHU is the lead investigator for Stephanie Stewart’s case. He has a Twitter account and will be tweeting about Stephanie’s case as well as topics related to unsolved homicides. The Twitter account is @KerryShima_RCMP.
The RCMP encourages anyone with information about any of these cases to contact their local detachment or police agency. Individuals may guarantee their anonymity by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting their information at www.crimestoppers.ab.ca. Also, details can be submitted to the Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains at http://www.canadasmissing.ca.