The assistant commissioner of the RCMP admitted mistakes were made in the early days of an investigation into the disappearance of a St. Albert couple.
The RCMP has faced criticism on several fronts for their early handling of the missing persons’ investigations.
Lyle Thomas McCann, 78 and Marie Ann McCann, 77 left St. Albert on July 3 in their motorhome, with an SUV in tow and were reported missing when they failed to arrive in Abbotsford B.C. to meet their daughter.
Their motorhome had actually been found several days prior on July 5, burnt to a shell, outside of the Minnow Lake campground near Edson.
Edson RCMP attended the fire but did not launch a full investigation until the McCanns were reported missing on July 10.
“When the motorhome was burnt initially we were slow getting going as information wasn’t passed on and a couple of things weren’t followed up on,” said assistant commissioner Peter Hourihan.
The force initially said the Edson RCMP member had attempted to contact the McCanns via telephone and then asked the RCMP in St. Albert to try and contact the couple at home, but they retreated from that statement on Friday.
“That whole thing is under review. We are talking to him saying what did you do, when did you do it and if any of that leads into St. Albert then we are going there and looking into that as well,” said Sgt. Patrick Webb.
Webb wouldn’t say what part of the information they could confirm and said it was all subject to the review.
“We are not going to piecemeal a response. We have people right now looking at that whole thing from the first phone call saying there is a motorhome on fire, right to the tenth,”
He said the RCMP is taking the review very seriously because of the affect it could have on the officers involved.
“It has a serious impact on a lot of people and we want to make sure we do the right thing.”
A tip that came into the Prince George RCMP detachment is also drawing some concern.
The tipsters reported seeing the McCanns’ SUV on July 11 inside the city of Prince George, but an employee at the detachment who took the information didn’t record the tipsters’ contact information, forcing the RCMP to plead through the media for them to return to the detachment, which they did two days later.
The police are still desperately seeking more tips from the public, even now that the SUV has been found.
Hourihan said they still want the public to report any information and they are taking the matter seriously.
“I respect that public confidence is contingent upon police competence and I want to assure you that in spite of the fact there were errors made earlier in this case, we are doing everything we can with the best people we can, to make sure we follow up on everything that we can.”
Bret McCann, the couple’s son, said the early issues in the investigation were concerning, but the family was not focusing on them.
“I know there have been issues and that is a little bit frustrating, but I am focusing on going forward,” he said. “All of the detachments have been alerted and I am very comfortable that they are fully engaged and doing everything they can.”