RCMP Historical Homicide Unit seek public assistance regarding the disappearance of Stephanie Stewart

Hinton, Alberta – Today marks 15-years since the disappearance of Stephanie Stewart, while working at a wildfire lookout tower, where she was monitoring for potential wildfires near Hinton, Alta. When she didn’t respond to a morning radio check-in on Aug. 26, 2006, coworkers contacted police to report her missing. Initially first responders thought Stephanie may have been a victim of a predatory animal attack. A conservation officer with Alberta Fish and Wildlife, also an expert in animal attacks, attended the scene and searched for some tell tale signs of an animal attack, such as animal hair, prints and scat. An animal attack was quickly ruled out. Major Crime and Forensic Investigators examined the scene and determined Stephanie’s disappearance was suspicious.

Alberta RCMP’s Historical Homicide Unit (HHU) remains dedicated to this ongoing police investigation into Stephanie’s disappearance. Alberta RCMP resources continue working in partnership with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and civilian search and rescue teams in hopes of locating Stephanie and other missing persons. Investigators have nothing further to report at this time, however, RCMP believe there are people who know what happed to Stephanie and would like to speak with them.

HHU and Hinton RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance to report any information in relation to this incident (or identifying those responsible). Please contact Hinton RCMP at 780-865-2455, or your local police.

RCMP Historical Homicide Unit seek public assistance regarding the disappearance of Stephanie Stewart
RCMP Historical Homicide Unit seek public assistance regarding the disappearance of Stephanie Stewart

Background:

Jan. 22, 2018

RCMP Historical Homicide Unit investigating deaths of three women

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 data. 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 kilometers 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 lo 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 wellbeing 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 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 MacNell was reported missing to the Vegrevillle 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 case 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.

August 23, 2018

RCMP Historical Homicide Unit lead search in Hinton area regarding historical homicide investigation

Hinton, Alberta – A ground and water search is underway north of Hinton in the continuing investigation of the disappearance of Stephanie Stewart.

RCMP resources, Alberta Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, and civilian Search & Rescue Teams are conducting a search in the vicinities of the Athabasca Fire Tower, Jarvis Lake, and Highway 40 North.

The general public may see an increased police presence in these areas. There is no public safety risk and there are no restrictions to public activities in the area.

The search is expected to last until Friday.

At this time no further details will be released regarding the ongoing investigation.

An update will be provided should new information become available.

BACKGROUND

Hinton RCMP Detachment

Occurrence Date: August 26, 2006

On August 26, 2006, Stephanie STEWART was reported missing from the Athabasca Fire Lookout Tower near Hinton, Alberta, where she lived and worked as an Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) employee. Stephanie had worked at the tower for 13 years during the fire season of April to October, and was a very physically fit and experienced outdoors enthusiast.

On August 26, 2006, Stephanie failed to call in the morning weather report, which was highly unusual. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact her, Stephanie was reported missing by her ESRD supervisor. Another employee was sent to check on Stephanie and found her cabin empty with obvious signs of a disturbance; blood was found on the steps and a boiling pot of water was on the stove. A large scale Search and Rescue operation was launched, but Stephanie STEWART has never been located. Based on the totality of the investigation to date, RCMP believe STEWART was also the victim of homicide.

Stephanie STEWART was 70 years old when she went missing. She was about 5’2’ tall and weighed approximately 105lbs.

Stephanie had chin-length grey hair and blue eyes.

There is no clothing description associated to the last time she was seen.

Hinton RCMP



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