A Yellowknife father is left with more questions than answers in search for the mother of their children.
Russel Hamilton says he is “scared,” for his common-law wife Toni Tobac whose missing person’s file has been closed by Edmonton Police Services (EPS) despite having no contact with family since April 21.
“Baby I love you, I’m going to have a nap with our son and I will call when I get up,” was the last thing Russel Hamilton heard from his common-law wife Tobac before she left the Stollery Children’s hospital in Edmonton last Tuesday.
Hamilton said he called Tobac around 8:30 p.m. on April 21 while she was escorting their 16-month-old son for pyloric stenosis surgery.
After he went to check in around 11 p.m. he learned from a charge nurse who was caring for the infant son that Tobac had stepped out for coffee with her brother at 9:30 p.m.
“She doesn’t have a brother in Edmonton. I haven’t heard from her since,” he said.
On Thursday April 23, Hamilton filed a missing person’s report with police but said he ran into some difficulties early on when he was told over email that no one works in the missing persons department over the weekend.
“People aren’t supposed to go missing on the weekends? How is no one working? I asked police if they had checked the security footage from the hospital or bank statements, but since no one was at the missing person’s department said they couldn’t let me know.”
Cheryl Voordenhout, a media relations advisor with Edmonton police confirmed to APTN News that investigators were in contact with Tobac’s family after she was seen on CCTV from a convenience store in Edmonton.
“EPS had investigated the report of her disappearance and has conclusive evidence that she is safe and not under duress,” Voordenhout said.
But video surveillance of her does not reunite a mother with her family.
“Police said her investigation is concluded because we have her alive, and police could be a red flag if she’s hiding out. But that doesn’t help me, she hasn’t contacted any of her family,” Hamilton said.
He had told police that Tobac had wrestled with addictions in the past but would not leave her four children behind in a city where she knows no one.
Meanwhile their infant son was transferred back to Yellowknife along with Tobac’s personal items, a backpack with $200 cash in side.
Jeanette Tobac, Toni’s cousin in Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories said she is also worried.
“The footage doesn’t show who she was with and we still don’t know her location. The police are saying maybe she is scared to call someone but why?
“I know she is a good mum and I have flooded her cell voicemail,” she said.
Jeanette Tobac has been has been coordinating family in Leduc, Alberta to search for the missing mother but things are moving slowly.
“They can drive around but it is hard for them to actually go into places because of COVID physical distancing restrictions. They can’t just knock on doors which would put them at risk,” she said.
Hamilton said over the weekend he learned that Toni may be with a man named Ernest Junior Manuel, of Fort Good Hope.
Hamilton told APTN that Manuel provided their family with a fake address to where he was with Tobac and now his concern for the well-being of his partner is heightened.
“Is she being held against her will? Her investigation with police is concluded but I just don’t know what happens next,” Hamilton said.