B.C. woman's search for birth mother turns up missing person's case

Five months after giving birth, Michele Johnston's then 17-year-old mother disappeared from Prince George, B.C.

17-year-old Helen Claire Frost disappeared from Prince George in October 1970, months after giving birth

Helen Claire Frost was just 17 when she went missing from Prince George, B.C. in 1970. (Frost family)

Michele Johnston's search for her birth mother has led her to an RCMP missing person's file. Now she hopes someone has information about what happened to her teenaged mother more than 47 years ago.

Seventeen-year-old Helen Claire Frost put Johnston up for adoption shortly after giving birth in May 1970.

In October of the same year, Frost left her home in the Queensway neighbourhood of Prince George, B.C., and was never seen again.

"It's crazy," Johnston said from her home in Courtenay, on Vancouver Island.

Johnston started searching for her birth mother in 2017, filing a request for her original birth registration. She received the document last week, and a quick online search for her mother's name turned up news articles and online posts about the disappearance.

"I'm like, oh my god, I hope this isn't her," Johnston said. "But some of the pictures of her ... It's totally my face."

"It's absolutely mind-blowing."

Listen to Johnston's reaction to discovering her birth-mother's story

RCMP have been looking for Michele Johnston's mother for 47 years, but Johnston didn't know this until last week. Johnston was put up for adoption shortly after being born to Helen Claire Frost in May 1970. In October of the same year, Frost left her home in the Queensway neighbourhood of Prince George, B.C., and was never seen again. Last week, Johnston found her mother's name, did an online search and discovered the story. She was 17 years old. 1:14

Through a missing person's forum, Johnston was able to connect with her aunt, her mother's sister.

"She had been looking for me," Johnston said.

The reunification has prompted the family to renew their call for information from anyone who knows what happened to Frost.

They also want the case to be added to the list of investigations handled by the RCMP's Project E-PANA, focused on missing and murdered women and girls linked to B.C.'s Highway 16, known as the Highway of Tears.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau said Frost's disappearance is still an active investigation, which is regularly reviewed to be sure no information has been overlooked.

Michele Johnston, pictured as an infant, never met her birth-mother, who went missing a few months after Johnston was born and given up for adoption. (Frost family)

However, she said the case does not meet the criteria to be included in Project E-PANA, adding that the lack of inclusion "does not diminish the RCMP's commitment in continuing to investigate Helen's disappearance."

Johnston plans to meet members of her birth-family in person, and is excited about the reunion — but wishes Frost could be there.

"I would have loved to have met her," she said. 

"I wanted to meet her, and seeing what has happened to her is very, very sad." 


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About the Author

Andrew Kurjata

@akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is a radio producer and digital journalist in northern British Columbia, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George. Email: andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca | Twitter: @akurjata | Secure PGP: http://www.akurjata.ca