Person of interest named in case of missing couple
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, July 16, 2010 9:50PM EDT
Alberta RCMP say they have two new leads in the case of an elderly Alberta couple who vanished during a road trip to the Rockies nearly two weeks ago.
Not only do police have a "person of interest" in the case, but they have also found the couple's Hyundai SUV, which had been missing since July 3.
At a press release Friday, the RCMP's Peter Hourihan said that Travis Edward Vader, 38, is a person of interest that they "want to talk to."
"Mr. Vader should be considered dangerous," Hourihan added. "Any sightings of him should be reported to police immediately and he should not be approached."
Vader has no fixed address.
Lyle and Marie McCann, aged 78 and 77, were last seen on July 3 filling up their RV at a gas station in St. Albert, which is a suburb of Edmonton.
On July 5, their motor home was found abandoned and burned near Edson, about two hours west of Edmonton. However, the Hyundai which was being towed by the RV was missing.
On Friday, police said that they had located the Hyundai. But they declined to say where the vehicle was found because the location was a "potential crime scene."
Hourihan added that "we suspect foul play … we assume the worst and hope for the best."
Police have faced heavy criticism for delaying an investigation, despite finding the charred RV.
A police probe officially began after the McCanns were reported missing by family members on July 8 -- a delay of five days. The couple was supposed to meet up with family members in British Columbia.
"I think that a couple of mistakes have been made," Hourihan conceded.
After sifting through the burned RV, police found the McCann's registration papers, and then called their home phone number. However, when no one picked up, it appears that officers didn't follow up.
It isn't known if RCMP officers actually went to the couple's Edmonton-area home.
"When the motor home was burnt, initially we were a little slow at getting going, as information wasn't passed on and a couple of things weren't followed up on," Hourihan said.
He added that one officer involved in the botched investigation has been placed on "administrative duties."
Another investigative slip occurred earlier this week when Bret McCann, the couple's son, took to the airwaves to ask for tips from the public.
The same day, two people from Prince George, B.C., went to their local police station to say that they had seen the missing Hyundai a few days prior.
However, that information was not taken seriously and the civilian staffer didn't even take down the name or number of the two tipsters.
The RCMP then had to appeal to the public, asking the tipsters to come forward once again.
However, police say they are now "doing everything" they can. Hourihan noted that 20 officers are now working on the case, which has generated 100-plus tips from the public.
Meanwhile, Bret McCann said he was staying positive.
"I'm viewing this as a positive step," he said. "They seem to be following a thread here that hopefully will lead to finding my parents."