A B.C. mother missing for more than 50 years has been found alive and well in Yukon, closing one of the Surrey Mounties' oldest missing persons cases.
"We are extremely happy about the outcome of our investigation," Corporal Bert Paquet said on Friday. "This was the only active investigation left from 1965 at the Surrey RCMP. This not only brings closure to family and friends, but investigators that have worked on this case throughout the years."
Lucy Ann Johnson (born Carvell), now 77, was located this week after a woman in Whitehorse saw her mentioned in a Yukon News classified ad and called police. "I am looking for my relatives," read the small, five-line posting sandwiched between want ads. "My grandparents' names are Margaret & Andrew Carvell. My mother's name is Lucy Ann Carvell. She was born Oct. 14, 1935, in Skagway [Alaska]."
Ms. Johnson's husband reported her missing on May 14, 1965. Surrey RCMP investigated and discovered she had been gone for several years, having last been seen by a neighbour in September, 1961. Investigators considered her husband a suspect in her disappearance – although he was never charged – and excavated the family's yard in the city of Surrey looking for clues. Decades passed with no sign of her, and Ms. Johnson's husband died in the late 1990s.
Last month, Surrey RCMP featured Ms. Johnson in its Missing of the Month series in hopes of generating new tips. The renewed plea ran in local newspapers and spurred Ms. Johnson's daughter, Linda Evans, who still lives in Surrey and was just seven or eight when her mother vanished, to make some efforts herself. Because her mother was born in Alaska and spent many years up north, she posted free advertisements in northern B.C. and Yukon publications.
On July 16, a woman from Whitehorse called police and identified herself as Ms. Johnson's daughter. Investigators there contacted Surrey RCMP.
"We were able to speak to Linda, to the other daughter in Yukon and connect the dots," Cpl. Paquet said. "After Lucy Johnson presented herself to a detachment up north, we were able to confirm she was the Lucy Johnson who went missing over 50 years ago."
The investigator in Surrey RCMP's missing persons unit who had been working on the file for several years received the call on his second-to-last day working for the unit, Cpl. Paquet said. The investigator was unavailable for comment on Friday, but Cpl. Paquet said he was excited and "had the biggest of smiles."
Exactly what happened remains unclear. Police are hoping to provide more information soon, but in the meantime, "are leaving enough time and privacy to Lucy and her families to deal with this life-changing event," Cpl. Paquet said. Ms. Johnson reportedly had several more children after moving up north.
"There are still answers that we need, there are still questions Lucy will still have to face, not only from our investigators, but from her own family members," he said.