Still missing: Disappearances of nearly 140 Winnipeggers remain unsolved

As family members head into the second week of searching for missing Winnipegger Eduardo Balaquit, others have disappeared just as mysteriously over the past several decades in Winnipeg.

These are some of the most mysterious of the roughly 138 active missing persons cases in Winnipeg

The search is continuing for missing Winnipeger Eduardo Balaquit. His is one of about 138 active missing persons cases in Winnipeg at the moment, police say. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

To lose a loved one is difficult enough, but to lose someone and not know what happened to them is a special kind of hurt.

Wilma Derksen is all too familiar with that kind of pain, having lost her daughter Candace Derksen more than 30 years ago.

For weeks, her family, friends and police searched for the teenager, who went missing in November 1984, only to find her in January, tied up in a shed where she froze to death.

"I just remember the panic. There was a sense of panic and confusion. What do we do? What do we do?" Derksen told CBC News earlier this week.

"Just the panic of wanting to know the answers."

The Manitoba Chiefs of Police maintained an online database of active missing persons cases across Canada dating back to 1952, part of a special assignment called Project Disappear. Project Disappear ceased operations in May of 2017 and there haven't been any additions to the database since November of 2016, though it is still accessible online.

The Winnipeg Police Service portion of the database ranges back to 1985 and includes 51 missing persons cases.

Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Jay Murray said as of June 15, the WPS Missing Persons Unit has 138 active missing persons cases. Those cases do not include "current active files of homicide, cold case or Project Devote investigations," he added.

Project Devote focuses on cases involving missing and murdered exploited persons.

The vast majority of missing persons cases are solved every year, but some remain a mystery. Here's a look at some of the more unusual missing persons cases in Winnipeg.

Janice Howe

On Aug. 28, 1992, Janice Howe, 35, left her parents' Fort Garry home in their car, telling them she would be back.

More than 10 hours later, the car was found abandoned on the side of the road near Kenora, Ont.

She was never heard from again.

Janice Howe's vehicle was found near Kenora, Ont. (WPS/Handout)

Gerald Long (a.k.a. Gerald Dutka)

On Sept. 28, 1994, Gerald Long, 20, left the Premier Fitness Centre on McPhillips Street after a workout. He was never seen or heard from again.

Gerald Long went for a workout on McPhillips Street in 1994 and never came home. (WPS/Handout)

Norman Krolman 

On Aug. 26, 1996, Norman Krolman was seen withdrawing money from an ATM. No one has seen him since.

A search of the 39-year-old's apartment showed nothing was missing or amiss, and there is no indication that he disappeared to start a new life.

Norman Krolman went missing after taking money out of an ATM in 1996. (WPS/Handout)

Regan Ambrose

On Jan. 9, 1998, Winnipegger Regan Ambrose, 29, left her job at a hospital in Japan.

She was reportedly last seen in the area of Mount Aso in Kumamoto, Japan the next day, but she was never found.

Regan Ambrose disappeared in 1998. (WPS/Handout)

Sunshine Wood

On Feb. 20, 2004, Sunshine Wood, 16, was last seen outside the St. Regis Hotel, holding the door for someone.

Sunshine Wood was last seen on Feb. 20, 2004. (Submitted)

The street-wise teen, who her father says lived up to her name, moved from Manitoba's Manto Sipi Cree Nation to go to school in Winnipeg.

She lived with relatives at first but then moved in with a friend. For her to not be in contact with her family is not like her, her father said.

Mildred Flett (a.k.a. Mildred Nelson) 

On May 1, 2010, Mildred Flett disappeared from her home in Winnipeg.

Her ex-boyfriend was eventually charged with violating a court protection order against her from earlier in the year, but never charged with anything else.

Mildred Flett disappeared from her home in Winnipeg on May 1, 2010. (Winnipeg Police Service)

There was information released that the 51-year-old may have cut her hair and started going by a different name.

Colten Pratt

On Nov. 6, 2014, Colten Pratt was seen leaving the Marlborough Hotel to go home.

It's believed he was spotted in a bus shelter the following day, but has been missing since.

Police say they believe Colten Pratt was spotted in a Winnipeg bus shelter on Nov. 7, 2014. He has been missing since. (WPS/Submitted)

Originally from Long Plain First Nation, the 26-year-old was living in the St. Vital area and volunteered with several groups.

"I dream of him coming home and I'm so happy in those dreams that he's there, and then when I wake up it's my nightmare, and it's real," his mother, Lydia Daniels, told CBC News in 2016. "It's real."

Christopher Guimond

On Apr. 7, 2015, Christopher Guimond got off a bus on Pembina Highway near Bishop Grandin Boulevard after calling his mother to say he was on his way home.

The 48-year-old man never showed up

Christopher Guimond, 48, was last seen getting off a bus on Pembina Highway and Plaza Drive in April 2015. (Family photo)

Thelma Krull

On July 11, 2015, Thelma Krull left her East Kildonan home to go for a walk. The 57-year-old never returned, prompting a frantic search.

Some personal effects of hers, including her sunglasses and phone, were found in a nearby park.

Thelma Krull, 57, seen here in an undated photo, has been missing since July 11, 2015, after she went for a walk in the Valley Gardens area. Police now believe she may have suffered a medical issue or was abducted that day. (Submitted)

Police have said Krull was seen with a heavy-set man in the area of Kimberly Avenue and Grey Street and appeared to be in distress.

She has since been declared legally dead.

"My mom is always in my thoughts and I miss her daily," Lisa Besser, Krull's daughter, said in a written statement to CBC News earlier this week. Her thoughts, she said, are with the Balaquit family.

"We know how scary and horrible this situation is and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone."

Scott Hadath

On June 5, 2017, Scott Hadath, 39, was last seen in Southdale.

His car was found months later but police have not said where, or whether the vehicle helped in their investigation.

His family calls his disappearance extremely out of character.

Missing man Scott Hadath, 39, was last seen in Winnipeg's Southdale area on the afternoon of June 5, 2017. (Winnipeg Police Service)

Kevin Dilk

Kevin Dilk, a teacher at Collège Béliveau, disappeared on Nov. 23, 2016.

The 50-year-old was last seen by family at his home in St. Boniface early that morning. The Bear Clan had a reported sighting the next day on Des Meurons, but that was never confirmed.

Kevin Dilk was last seen on the morning of Nov. 23, 2016, leaving his home in St. Boniface. (Facebook)

Eduardo Balaquit

Eduardo Balaquit, 59, was last seen June 4, 2018.

His van was found with a window smashed near a business on Keewatin where he had a cleaning contract. His phone and other personal belongings were found nearby.

He has not been heard from since, and police have expanded their search to Arborg, Man.

About the Author

Elisha Dacey

Journalist

Elisha Dacey is a journalist with CBC Manitoba. She is the former managing editor of Metro Winnipeg and her work has been seen in newspapers from coast to coast. Reach her at elisha.dacey@cbc.ca.

With files from Marianne Klowak