The RCMP have found a missing St. Albert couple's SUV and have identified a person of interest in their disappearance, which police now believe was the result of foul play.
Police are seeking Travis Edward Vader, 38, as a person of interest in the case of the missing seniors, who now have not been seen in two weeks.
Long-time St. Albert residents Lyle Thomas McCann, 78 and Marie Ann McCann, 77 left St. Albert on July 3 in their motorhome, with the SUV in tow.
The SUV, a light green Hyundai Tucson that has been the subject of a massive search, was found late in the afternoon Friday in a wooded area about 30 kilometres east of Edson, the RCMP confirmed.
The wooded area is off Range Road 144, a short dead end road just off the Yellowhead Highway. On Friday, evening a flat bed trailer removed the SUV from the site, but police maintained a road block at the edge of the road, while investigators and forensic crews came and went from the area.
The SUV did not appear to be damaged in any way when it was taken from the site.
Sgt. Tim Taniguchi said the SUV was located in Alberta, but initially wouldn't specify where because the location and potentially a wide area around it are considered a crime scene. Police later released more specifics after several media reports identified the location.
"The scene could be metres, in terms of the perimeter around the vehicle, or it could be miles," he said.
Taniguchi did not reveal whether the SUV was damaged in any way or anything else about the vehicle. The vehicle was removed from the scene Friday evening, but forensic investigators continued to work at the site for several more hours.
Person of interest
Vader has not been identified as a suspect in the McCann disappearance, however police indicated he has an extensive criminal past.
"Vader has multiple outstanding warrants on matters unrelated to this and he is known to be in possession of firearms. He has a history of drug abuse," said RCMP assistant commissioner Peter Hourihan.
While the RCMP is trying to find Vader, Hourihan said they do not want the public to approach him.
"We don't know where Mr. Vader is right now and we need the public's help in trying to locate him. We need the public also to know that he is considered dangerous and any sightings of him should be reported to the police immediately."
Hourihan also stressed that Vader is not yet an official suspect.
"A person of interest might be a witness, it might be someone who becomes a suspect, it might be someone who later becomes an accused. It is a person who we feel has information that can provide us with information."
The McCanns were reported missing on July 10, one week after setting out on their vacation. They were supposed to pick up their daughter at the Abottsford airport that morning, but never arrived.
Edson RCMP had found the couple's motorhome five days prior, burned to a shell near the Minnow Lake campground, outside Edson.
Hourihan said the combination of all these factors have led the RCMP to suspect foul play is involved.
"We suspect foul play. Everyone can draw their own conclusions. This is completely out of character for them not to have contacted anyone or arrived to pick up their daughter," he said. "We assume the worst and hope for the best."
The McCanns' family has been struggling with the disappearance, but when reached Friday morning son Bret McCann said they were trying to stay hopeful.
"It is kind of keeping my focus on the search rather than dwelling on the other scenarios."
Despite the discovery of both the SUV and the motorhome police say they are still looking for people who might have spotted the vehicles between July 3 and 5.
The motorhome was a 1999 Gulf Stream Voyager, painted green and white. The Hyundai Tucson is light green with Alberta licence plate ZPK-289.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the St. Albert RCMP at 780 458-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.