12 years later, new clues sought in disappearance of 70-year-old woman
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, August 24, 2018 8:50AM EDT
Twelve years after a healthy and active 70-year-old woman disappeared while working at a fire lookout tower in a remote part of western Alberta, search and rescue teams have renewed their efforts to find her.
Stephanie Stewart was reported missing on Aug. 26, 2006 after she failed to call in her daily morning report from the Athabasca Lookout Tower near Hinton, Alta., where she was employed as a seasonal worker. When a colleague went to check on her, they found blood on the steps to her cabin and a pot of water still boiling on the stove. There was no sign of Stewart.
RCMP said her cabin had “obvious signs of a disturbance” and have long believed the senior was the victim of a homicide. Investigators said a number of items were missing from Stewart’s room, including pieces of bedding and a broken watch that was a keepsake.
On Thursday morning, the RCMP’s historical homicide unit, along with crews from Alberta Search and Rescue, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and civilian search and rescue teams, fanned out across the areas near the fire lookout tower, Jarvis Lake, and Highway 40 North.
“The investigative team is really looking to go back over everything that was done before and sometimes just expand the boundaries,” Staff Sgt. Jason Zazulak with Alberta RCMP’s historical homicide unit told CTV Edmonton on Thursday.
RCMP stressed that the renewed search is not the result of any new leads or information; but rather, it’s a regular part of the investigative process. Historical homicide cases are never closed and continually investigated throughout the years, according to RCMP.
“We have people on this search that were on the original search,” Mike Cook, a liaison officer for Alberta Search and Rescue, said.
RCMP and Alberta Search and Rescue said they’re hopeful they will find more clues this time around because technology has improved in the last 12 years.
“We always want to bring closure to the family and give them some security of knowing what happened to their loved one,” Cook said.
Residents in the area can expect an increased police presence in the areas being searched, but there is no risk to public safety and no restrictions on activities in the area, RCMP said.
The search is scheduled to continue until Monday.
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Bill Fortier
Our search this week is being spearheaded by our partners at Alberta Search & Rescue and Alberta Agriculture & Forestry. This is our command post at the Athabasca Tower. #RCMP #StewartMurder pic.twitter.com/y84885tMAU— Cpl. Kerry Shima (@KerryShima_RCMP) August 23, 2018