Searchers are hoping that an old well outside Leoville, Sask., holds the secrets that will help to solve a mystery that dates back decades.
On April 3, 1993, Kevin 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.
Now volunteers who have never forgotten about their disappearance have been looking at a rural area not far from where they went missing.
“You know, you hear stories about stuff, getting swept under the rug, and there’s a lot of people missing,” said searcher Ernest Dumais who added that the case always bothered him.
More specifically, Dumais and his helpers said they’ve found evidence of an old spring-fed well, lined with wood, which they hope may hold the answer to where Charles and Goodfellow ended up.
The site is currently overgrown with grass.
According to the Doe Network, a web page dedicated to people who are missing, the RCMP reported at the time that there had been a loud argument the night they went missing from Goodfellow’s home.
“Two people had come to the Goodfellow home in the night and broke into the house, threatening Kevin and accusing him of stealing,” said the site. “The teenager reportedly ran to a house across the street, shouting for help but the occupants did not answer the door.
“The rest of the evening remains a mystery.”
Neither Charles nor his adoptive grandmother was seen again and the case went cold.
In 2006, acting on a tip, RCMP showed up to ask Roger Bourassa and his father-in-law where their well was. Bourassa told them they were working on some land near Leoville, a small community of 375 people located about 25 km from where Charles and Goodfellow lived in Chitek Lake.
“He asked him (Bourassa’s father-in-law) about this well-site, and he said ‘yeah, I can show it to you but hasn’t been used for 20 years,’” Bourassa told APTN News. “He showed them the site and those two RCMP officers taped it off, and they told him that ‘we’ll be back within two weeks.’
“But the following week, the two RCMP officers in Spiritwood got shot. And nothing’s been done about it since. One of those officers that taped it off, was one of the officers that were involved in the shooting in Spiritwood.”
The shooting was a tragedy that caught the nation’s attention.
RCMP Const. Marc Bourdages was one of two officers killed in a 2006 shootout. The other was Const. Robin Cameron.
A Spiritwood man, Curtis Dagenais was convicted in 2009 and is currently serving a life sentence.
Bourassa said Bourdages was one of the officers who came out to tape off the well.
After the shooting, the officer’s files were sent to the RCMP’s historical crimes department in Regina.
APTN asked the RCMP about those files, and, in an emailed statement, RCMP said they are reviewing them and continue to investigate the case.
“This includes reviewing the information collected during the 29 years since their disappearance, speaking with witnesses and investigating new pieces of information as they are learned. Investigators recently received some new information they are currently following up on,” the RCMP said.
That new information came from Dumais, who heard the tale of the RCMP visiting the well-site from Bourassa years before and was haunted by it.
As it turns out, Dumais’ mother was a first cousin of Mary Goodfellow’s. But it was a Child Find billboard of Kevin Charles located on a highway near Leoville, that was a daily reminder.
Dumais said he’s driven by it almost every day for years.
“I’d see that picture on Child Find so I went there, I phoned the number. Nothing really happened, nobody got back to me,” Dumais said.
After talking it over with his sister, he decided to call the RCMP in Regina.
“I phoned there, and nothing really happened there too. Like it seemed like everywhere I was phoning nothing was going on, and to me it’s not the first time things like this happened, they know it’s a First Nation’s person and nothing really happens.”
Dumais and other searchers also located a piece of faded yellow police tape near the well, giving some weight to Bourassa’s story.
The searchers hope RCMP will investigate the site soon.
Elder Howard Halkett is Kevin Charles’s cousin. He was among the group of searchers who located the well. He laid down tobacco and said a prayer.
He said the family has never forgotten.
“There was always the hope that we could find him alive and bring him home and reunite with family. But if he’s in the spirit world, we’d like to bring him home also and have a proper burial for him, and not only him, the old lady also,” Halkett said.
The RCMP has not announced a date when it will travel to the site to investigate, but they told APTN they hope our story will generate new leads in the case.