By Stephen Dafoe
Edmonton – The search for a missing St. Albert couple took a personal turn at RCMP “K” Division headquarters in Edmonton this afternoon. Bret McCann, the son of Lyle and Marie Ann McCann, was joined by his wife Mary-Ann and family friend Darrell Stang to talk to media about the couple who were last seen in St. Albert July 3 purchasing gas for their motor home. The vehicle was discovered engulfed in flames July 5, parked in an isolated cutline outside of Edson near Minnow Lake. The McCanns were reported missing July 10 after failing to meet a family member at a scheduled rendezvous.
“It’s just devastating to us all,” Bret McCann told media, noting that his father was a long-haul trucker who made a career out of driving around North America, and although he retired from the profession several years ago, both McCann’s father and mother loved to travel. “They were in their 70s but they were quite vigorous and they were very healthy.”
McCann said his parents left St. Albert for Chilliwack B.C. where they planned to vacation at a camp grounds there, but were to meet his sister and her daughter in Abbotsford B.C. July 10 to join them on the vacation.
Sergeant Patrick Webb told media the RCMP investigation began July 10 when the couple was reported missing, but had thus far failed to locate the missing couple. Webb said investigators linked the missing person report with the earlier vehicle fire report and determined the matter was a serious incident, at which time the RCMP Serious Crimes unit took the lead role in the investigation.
“As soon as the family brought it forward that we had missing people as well; that obviously raised the importance at this point,” Sgt. Webb said. “It gave us much more to go on. And that was the time it became apparent that there had to be a more extensive search of the area, of the scene, of the debris left over from the fire.”
Since that time, RCMP helicopters have conducted an aerial search covering 100 square miles surrounding the burned motor home, as well as an extensive ground searche by police service dogs and civilian search and rescue teams from Brazeau, Parkland and Hinton. Known witnesses have been interviewed and re-interviewed. Additionally, the RCMP Forensic Identification unit and the provincial fire investigator’s office have been called in to examine the vehicle and scene, each using their talents to yield any further information.
As part of the ongoing investigation, RCMP searched the McCanns’ cell phone and financial activities. Although Sgt. Webb would not disclose when the most recent financial transactions were made on the McCanns’ accounts or when their most recent cell phone usage occurred, he assured media that there was no activity the RCMP considers to be suspicious in any way.
Webb said the primary focus is finding the McCanns and the light green Hyundai Tucson (licence ZPK 289) the motor home was towing.
“Our investigators are working closely with the family and we fully appreciate the stress they are experiencing,” the sergeant said, noting that they are doing all they can to update the family on the status of the investigation. “Although we have many aspects of this case that we can investigate; it’s imperative that the public help us locate the vehicle and the McCanns.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the St. Albert RCMP at 780-458-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
The family has created a Facebook group “Help us find our parents – Lyle & Marie McCann” in the hopes of broadening the search.