The mother of a Cree boy missing for three decades in Saskatchewan is frustrated that RCMP has not yet investigated an old well site that may hold clues to what happened to her son and his adoptive grandmother.
Marlene Charles Halkett still gets emotional talking about her son Kevin Charles.
On April 3, 1993, Charles, 16, originally from Little Red River Cree Nation, and his adoptive grandmother Mary Goodfellow, 67, originally from Pelican Lake First Nation, vanished from their home in Chitek Lake, 230 km northwest of Saskatoon.
Her family has never stopped looking for them.
Halkett told APTN News they sent Kevin to stay with Goodfellow to be a helper and to get him away from the trouble he had been getting in on their home reserve of Little Red River near Prince Albert.
His brother was also sent, but didn’t want to return to Chitek after Christmas of 1992.
Halkett and Goodfellow had both been adopted by the same family and grew up together.
Halkett said after they disappeared, her husband never stopped looking for Kevin and Mary.
He died without ever finding out what happened to them. Halkett has continued looking but it has been difficult for her.
“It’s been pretty rough. And worse now since he’s been gone for like five years so it’s been by myself,” she said. “During the years it was good, I had help, but it slowly wavered off, so it got harder.”
Halkett was there two weeks ago when searchers located an old well in the Leoville area, not far from Chitek.
It was a site that the Spiritwood RCMP had identified and taped off after receiving a tip in 2006.
But it was never excavated in the wake of a tragedy a short time later that claimed the lives of two officers from the detachment.
In recent years, missing person’s activist Debbie Thomas has helped Halkett put up billboards to try and generate tips in the case.
Thomas said there may be people out there with information who are afraid to come forward, even after all this time.
“To report my tip to the RCMP makes me a rat,” Thomas said. “And then the other thing is, you’re living in that community and you’re looking over your shoulder, and you don’t feel safe in your community anymore.”
APTN inquired about the case earlier this month with the RCMP’s Historical Crimes Unit.
They told us an officer had been assigned to review the files, and they continued to investigate tips.
We asked to get an update on what progress has been made by the investigator, but have not yet received a response.
Thomas said she’s frustrated by what seems to be a lack of action on the file by RCMP and also feels Indigenous leaders should be stepping up. To that end, Thomas has been contacting chiefs and councils in the area.
“Kevin Charles is a member of Montreal Lake (First Nation), Mary Goodfellow is a member of Pelican Lake. You should be supporting Marlene in getting that well dug up,” Thomse wrote to chiefs. “You should be making the RCMP responsible–answer to the fact that they overlooked a tip for 15 years, that should have been dug up 15 years ago. Maybe Marlene coulda had closure.”
Thomas said families should not have to look for justice on their own, and says an independent missing person’s office is needed.