Author Topic: Ron & Terry Yakimchuk (nee Pettit) - Missing - June 1973 - Edmonton, AB  (Read 50566 times)

Carol-Lynn

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I have three reports,last seen Edmonton-Manitoba-Montreal.
A city woman believes she saw a missing Edmonton couple alongside their broken down Volkswagen Beetle on a highway in Ontario after they were reported missing nearly 35 years ago.

Vivian McCroary says she's sure she spotted former Journal reporter Terry Pettit and her husband, Ron Yakimchuk, with another man on the side of the road outside Parry Sound, Ont. in July 1973.

She says the three were standing beside a faded red Volkswagen Beetle that had Alberta licence plates.

No one has heard from the couple since they vanished on a trek from Edmonton to Montreal. Their last contact was a one-word message "nyah" on a postcard mailed to a friend from Dryden, Ont. in June, 1973. Friends believe the word was a joking reference to the fact that their beat-up 1959 VW had made it that far without breaking down.

McCroary, who is now 79, says she reported seeing the couple to police when she returned home, but they didn't seem interested.

"I phoned the police at the time and they didn't even take my phone number and name," she said. "I swear it's the same car."

Ontario Provincial Police plan to post the case on their Internet missing persons site later this month in the hopes of resolving the mystery and bringing some closure to the couple's families.

A Journal story published Monday has already produced several tips about the case that OPP are forwarding on to Edmonton police.

McCroary says she has a vivid memory of the encounter because her husband had to slam on the brakes and swerve around the VW.

The Beetle appeared to have stalled and was still partially in the southbound driving lane of Highway 69, she said.

She remembers her husband, who is now deceased, commented at the time that the vehicle had Alberta licence plates.

The engine hood was open and there was no sign of the kayak the couple had tied to the roof of the VW when they set off from Edmonton and when they arrived at CFB Shilo a few days later.

McCroary says none of the three people alongside the vehicle acknowledged them when they passed.

"There was a tall, slim fellow with dark hair and ... a hippy hair cut," she says. "He was standing more in the ditch. There was this other man and woman and they were on the left hand side in front of the vehicle. I couldn't see the man particularly well. He was pretty well behind the woman. He wasn't much taller than her."

She says the woman was "quite little with blondish hair."

McCroary says she initially thought the man and woman who were standing together must have been the missing couple, but she now suspects the man behind the woman was not Yakimchuk because there was a significant height difference between Terry and Ron.

"They were standing very close together," she says. "Whether he was threatening her or what, I don't know. They didn't wave or anything. They just stood there."

McCroary says she's sure the encounter occurred in late July because she remembers waiting until after Klondike Days to make the trip.

Yakimchuk's sister, Marlene Bell, says she hopes police follow up on the tip.

"Maybe it's too late, but let's do something," she says. "It would be so nice if this could be resolved while mom and dad are still here. They're in their 80s."

Her brother and his wife left Edmonton in early June to attend a June 16 wedding in Montreal, but they never showed up.

They had planned to continue on to the East Coast after the wedding where they had hopes of finding jobs.

OPP Det. Const. Scott Johnston says the tip shouldn't be discounted just because McCroary believes it was in July.

"When you look at a tip like that from someone like her, yes, the timing may be off a month, but we're talking about people that have never been found," he says. "Maybe they got completely side-tracked. It's not out of the realm of possibility."

Johnston says he has received another tip from someone who reported an experience involving a Volkswagen at the time, but he didn't provide any details.

He hopes police will get new information that will help them focus a new search. If the car ran off the road and ended up in Lake Superior, trying to find it would be like looking for a needle in a hay stack, he says.

"You would need something to localize your search because it's such a large body of water and it's so deep."

Yakimchuk was the eldest of six children who were raised on a farm near Andrew, northeast of Edmonton. He met Pettit at the University of Alberta where the two worked on the campus newspaper, the Gateway, and later its rival, Poundmaker.

"Terry was adventurous and kind of a non-conformist," recalls another former Gateway staffer Ellen Nygaard. "She was a unique, free spirited, smart person, but what a streak of mischief she had."

Her brother Gordon Pettit says her parents are dead and the rest of the family came to terms with the issue long ago.

"As far as I am concerned, something happened and they are both dead and that's all there is to it. You have to just get past it," he says. "There's nothing any of us can do to change what happened."

But Yakimchuk's family has always hoped for a resolution. Bell says her father yearns to win a lottery so he can hire a private detective to work on the case.

"That was always his dream, that he would come across a pile of money and hire someone to go look for them, but where do you even start now?"

dhenton@thejournal.canwest.com

http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/story.html?id=94a5c9fb-9469-4668-b75b-ff5c5eadb915
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 12:16:57 PM by debbiec »

jellybean

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Re: Ron & Terry Yakimchuk (nee Pettit) - Missing - June 1973 - Edmonton, AB
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2010, 09:39:49 AM »
Carol Lynn- The last name is Yakimchuk. This is a real mystery. I found this on the Alberta Missing Persons and Unidentified remains site awhile back. When I googled their name, I stumbled upon this;
http://www.prairiesouls.com/A.%20Lamont%20Cemetries%20on%20Line/Andrew,%20AB%20-%20Sts%20Peter%20Paul%20Cemetery/Mycemetery--Sts-Peter-and-Paul-Cemetery-cem-index.htm

This is very odd indeed.  Unless his parents set up the gravestone for a place to go to mourn their loss, and in the event that they should be found.
I e-mailed the police with this info, but I don't know if they looked into it or what? They may even be buried there. Yet, about 2 years ago, this was featured in our newspaper, as she worked at the Edmonton Journal. So, this is weird.
Also found this; but I don't think it is them.
(http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/classics/mystery_couple/)

This a long read, but has pictures of a couple. They were found in 1976, and were unidentified.

 
« Last Edit: December 17, 2010, 04:02:47 PM by jellybean »

jellybean

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Re: Ron & Terry Yakimchuk (nee Pettit) - Missing - June 1973 - Edmonton, AB
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2010, 05:07:29 PM »
Someone from Porchlight website posted this, but I don't think it is them.

 However, they do have a tomb stone, just outside of Lamont, I believe.   I have provided that link of the picture.  So my question about the tomb stone is, are their remains in there? Were they located somewhere, and returned to his parents?  - and his parents didn't tell Terry's family for whatever reason. -Or is this tombstone there to await the time when they are found and their remains can be placed there?

debbiec

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Re: Ron & Terry Yakimchuk (nee Pettit) - Missing - June 1973 - Edmonton, AB
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2010, 05:25:21 PM »
From what I've read about this, it was once thought that this unidentified couple found in SC may have been the Yamichucks. It appears from all I've been able to find that it is likely not.

The unidentified couple has a thread here on the site.

http://www.unsolvedcanada.ca/index.php/topic,1913.0.html
« Last Edit: December 17, 2010, 05:53:51 PM by debbiec »

debbiec

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Re: Ron & Terry Yakimchuk (nee Pettit) - Missing - June 1973 - Edmonton, AB
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2010, 11:13:22 PM »

Quote
Canwest News Service
July 21, 2009
 
Edmonton police have sent DNA from the family of a couple who disappeared 36 years ago to South Carolina to check for a possible match with two people found slain there. Police are trying to determine whether the remains found off a dirt road in Sumter County, S.C., could be Ron and Terry Yakimchuk, who vanished during a cross-Canada drive to attend a wedding in Montreal in 1973, said Const. Jim Gurney. The unidentified bodies of the couple found in South Carolina were discovered Aug. 9, 1976, by a truck driver. They had each been shot. Their bodies are buried in a local cemetery.


Carol-Lynn, this is the only mention I have found about what's been done in regard to checking DNA. So far I've been unable to find anything that says they ever actually did the tests or if there are any available results if they did.

jellybean

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I read somewhere - was it the Edmonton Journal, that Theresa's sister did give her DNA.

PEACE
JB

LYakimchuk

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I have just found this site today. Ronald and Terri Yakimchuk have a headstone in the Andrew cemetery because his parents wanted to have some sort of a memorial to them. It is difficult to lose your children -- impossible not to want to have some recognition of their existence. Their names are engraved on the backs of the headstones Ronald's parents set up for themselves for when they pass away. (I am his sister.)

Chris

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I am sorry about your brother. I cannot imagine how hard that must be on parents. Glad there is some sort of memorial.

jellybean

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To quote myself - the question that I had.
"-Or is this tombstone there to await the time when they are found and their remains can be placed there?

Thank you for replying.  The loss of your brother will probably stay with you, and I am hoping that there will be concrete resolution for you and your family members.
It is true, that you have a place to put your flowers and rememberance for this couple with thoughts and prayers.
How wonderful and thoughtful of your family to create a special place for them.

JB

cana_nomad

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This is one of those cases that tends to stay with me, probably because it seems so clearcut that it's almost odd to think it WASN'T solved- they were well-known, seemed to have no known enemies (although you never can be sure of these things) and were driving an easily recognizable vehicle with a kayak tied to the roof.  Someone has obviously seen something, and given the witnesses who came forward, it seems the couple might have at least made it as far as the Ont/Man border.

I have to ask, has anyone brought up/considered logging roads?  I don't remember seeing anything on this thread about them, but there are so many logging roads throughout Ontario-  I was stranded on one of the most notorious ones known (it's between Wawa, ON and Ste. St. Marie, en route to Sudbury on HWY-1).  The road is known as Sultan/Industrial Rd. and even today, both my new GPS AND Google Maps list it as being NECESSARY when driving either West on HWY-1 (ie: headed from mid-Ontario towards Alberta as we were, or going the opposite way, headed East towards Man./Que.).  For some reason, maybe because these logging roads run parallel to almost that entire stretch of HWY-1, Google and most GPS systems seem to confuse it with the actual highway itself.

Being that they went missing in the 1970s, there would be no GPS system to re-route them if they ended up on a logging road and no map at that time would likely have any logging roads clearly marked- the trappers we ran into last year on our adventure were actually just then starting to map these routes for the police, after they kept being asked by several cop friends to help search for missing drivers/campers who were wrongly diverted onto these logging roads. 

These roads are rarely open even to the loggers that use them, and when they are (seasonally) there is a HUGE black bear population regularly sighted.  Needless to say, when people go missing, they are not normally ever found.  It's not uncommon for someone to also abandon their vehicle to walk to the nearest town to get help, which is often more than 20km away, depending on at what point you would realize you are lost.

So, if we do rule out foul play for a moment, could it be that the Yakimchuks went missing along this stretch of highway?  Assuming they did stick only to the Canada route (not crossing into the U.S. at any point, at least until after Ontario), I highly doubt they would not have come across any logging roads and it probably would have been even easier in those days to accidentally merge onto one.  It could be they succumbed to the elements while trying to find a gas/police station (hypothermia sets in a lot more quickly than people realize, even in the summer) and since they were off the beaten path, the search might not have taken anyone to these roads. 

I know this post is long, but I can't seem to post the route we took on here (will do if/when I figure out how) so I have to rely on words to describe how remote it still is to this day.  Also, if they made it as far as Dryden as that postcard suggested, might they have crossed into the U.S. via Michigan?  Has Customs ever been notified?  they should still have records and also, have the Great Lakes been scanned for wreckage? 

The only other main Canadian routes that would fit the "lost" theory I have right now, would be mid-Man. or mid-to-north Que. where even today those areas would be quite rural. 

In regards to that unknown S.C. couple- I know that the timeline is off, but it is quite possible that the Yakimchuks were living under the radar for a time and then murdered in 76, or the police were off in the time of death- I have no idea what ever became of the DNA matching, but it's not that far-fetched that they might have been alive before being killed, and maybe the car died on them at some point along the way (it was quite old after all).

Is anyone on here familiar with logging roads, esp. during that time period?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 01:09:48 PM by cana_nomad »

expecting rain

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While I am not from the period of time that these people went missing. However, I am a Northern gal and know logging roads, especially the Sultan. I have taken it many times to get to Sudbury and it is a dangarous road. We have rescued many people off of it.

If they made it to Dryden, it would of been VERY out of the way to cross into the states from there (the turn off to Fort Frances/U.S boarder is just outside of Kenora(hour and a bit west of Dryden) and as far as I know the next border crossing is Ste. St Marie.

I would assume if Dryden was the last place they were known to be, I would be checking along highway 17 between Dryden and Thunder Bay, lots of dense bush and side roads. Lots of abandon old vehicles along that stretch of highway.

cana_nomad

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Exactly!  That stretch near Thunder Bay is VERY easy to get lost/killed on- also, like I said, most authorities are unaware to check it- it could be that they got out of the car and were never able to return to it.  expectingrain, are you near Sultan Rd still?  Is it safe enough to do a driveby in the daylight? 

I also found this, which would explain the crossing into the U.S. theory from Chris's Crime Forum:

[urlhttp://chriscrimeforum.freeforums.org/terry-pettit-ron-yakimchuk-cold-case-nov-08-t1144-10.html][/url]

Let me know if it doesn't work.

This is the part in that forum that jumps out at me:

"Going East from the Manitba border, you had to decide just after Kenora if you were going to take the "all-Canada" route to Fort William/Port Francis (or was the other way around?) - anyway, it's now Thunder Bay, then through Nipigon and Marathon to Sault-St,-Marie. Or you could opt for the "USA" southern route around Lake Superior via the USA, going South and entering Minnesota at Rainy River and then working your way East via Duluth and Ironwood, Minn. and Marquette, Michigan, rentering Canada at Sault Ste. Marie, then on to Sudbury. As I remember it, the difference in actual driving distance wasn't much - maybe the US route was 75 miles shorter - but the big advantage of going the US route was cheaper gas (even then), essentially flat terrain, and the relatively more populated areas to drive through, if gas availability, rest stops, or car trouble were a concern.The stretch from the Soo to Sudbury was a bear - lots of hills and very few towns in those days - but you had to do that in either case.

Anyway, Ron and Terri had no wishes to enter "the belly of The Beast" (remember "the belly of The Beast"?) and planned to stay in Canada the whole trip. And since they sent Rod Mickleburg's postcard from Dryden, it looks as if they passed on the "go South at Kenora" option.

But there was a third option. If you had second thoughts about the Canadian route after you left Kenora, you could go South at Dryden. Back then, the road going South from Dryden (actually, I think you had to go West a few miles, then South) was really twisty, and there were hardly any towns or settlements, as I learned on one of my hitch-hiking trips when I took it by mistake, and ended up on the old Hwy 11 route to Thunder Bay, which runs through scenic Atikokan and Kashabowie! But, if you wanted to, you could double back a few miles and get into the US via International Falls that way.


If you read the full post (which I highly recommend because there is a wealth of good info here) it really raises that third trip option theory of going South from Kenora.  Is anyone from the Yakimchuk family still reading this thread?  Were you informed of any results?  I tried to find any more comments on the Chris's Crime forum after 2008 and there don't appear to be any answers. 

debbiec

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« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 01:44:11 PM by debbiec »

debbiec

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This is a long read, but very interesting.


Answers sought in local pair's 1973 vanishing http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=dd37f781-ebb9-4033-a700-6de963a88f64

jobo

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There is just so many lakes and of course Lake Superior on the TransCanada Hwy in Northern Ontario.  I think it is a great idea to get the description of the Volkswagen out there, especially around Dryden (the last place it is figured they were).
The 'bug' was different looking with it being red with a green hood, someone might remember seeing it somewhere....or at least people can be educated to keep in mind that a couple disappeared many years ago in the distinctive 'bug'.  It could be in a lake, or down a cliff.

Up in Northern Ontario in June, it can still be cold, especially at night.

We drove from Calgary to Toronto every year from 1974-1981...summer or winter and luckily never had any issues, but that route up north there is quite hilly and winding and like I said, lots of water.  I remember there being lots of truckers back then...and very desolate between towns.