Edmonton, AB – Investigators from the RCMP’s “K” Division Historical Homicide Unit (HHU) are continuing to push forward with three separate investigations, each involving a woman who initially had been reported missing in Alberta but believed by police to have been victims of homicide.
The three cases, although not believed to be related, span a period of approximately 30 years; from 1983 to 2013. The victims in each case are women who vary in age from 16-years-old to 70 years-old and none of them have been found to date. All three cases remain unsolved, but it is the belief of S/Sgt. Jason Zazulak, who heads up the “K” Division HHU, as well as of the investigators who comprise the unit, that each case can and will be solved.
The first case is that of Shelly Ann Bacsu who was 16 years of age when she was reported missing to Hinton RCMP on May 3, 1983 after 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. Extensive 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 and continue to seek her remains.
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 August 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 November 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 preceding 48 hours; something which the friend though 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 November 28, 2013. Police conduct 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.
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. “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 www.canadasmissing.ca.
The families of these three women deserve to know what happened, to bring their loved ones home, and see a resolution through an arrest of the person or persons responsible.