Missing & Murdered: The Unsolved Cases of Indigenous Women and Girls
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It was 8 p.m. on Aug. 24, 1988, and Roberta Ferguson wanted to go home.

She was camping with friends at Sunnyside Campground on Cultus Lake, B.C., when she decided to leave.

The 19-year-old rolled up her black pants to her knees, put on a pair of octagon­-shaped sunglasses and waved goodbye to her niece.

“She was hitchhiking home because she wanted to go home, and that's when they,­­ they took her,” said Verl Ferguson, Roberta’s older sister.

“She waved to Robbie, and they haven’t seen her since.”

Roberta was trying to get home to Verl in Surrey, B.C.

“They haven’t found her body. There was a body that was found that no one’s been able to identify. She looked very similar to my sister, but they said it was an Asian woman,” she said.

“It’s still really painful.”

Roberta had moved in with Verl after their mom died about six years earlier.

“I feel a lot of guilt because I feel like I let my dad down,” she said.

“I was taking care of her. I guess that’s why I don’t want to move home yet because I have to find out what,­­ this case really needs to be closed.”

Roberta and her sister belonged to the Dunvegan Beaver band.

She was born with a hole in her heart and had to take medication until her teens, but according to Verl, Roberta was OK until her mom died.

After that, she had a lot of trouble focusing in school.

Despite the tragedy, she didn’t party, never ran away and mostly kept to herself.

“She was very,­­ she was very good. She was quiet,” said Verl.

Since her death, Chilliwack RCMP have been in touch with Verl every few years. The latest constable assigned to her case calls more often.

When Verl hears about serial killers she wonders if maybe her sister was one of the victims.

Family DNA was handed over when Robert Pickton’s pig farm was searched. There wasn’t a match.

In the early 2000s, there was another glimmer of hope.

“Terry Arnold had mentioned in the jail that he was last seen with her,” Verl said.

Arnold was a convicted murderer who became the prime suspect in the death of Barbara Stoppel in Winnipeg in 1981.

Around the same time, he was also suspected in an Alberta death the year before Roberta disappeared.

“He went to take them to where [Roberta’s] body was, and it was moved, so they couldn’t,­­ they couldn’t [continue],” Verl said.

Arnold later committed suicide, denying involvement in the Stoppel killing.

Verl thinks the RCMP have done everything they can. She knows it’s a difficult case, and a lot of time has passed.

The most recent constable in charge of her sister’s case called her this year and asked her how often she’d like to hear from officers.

“I said maybe every three months, just to let us know if anything develops,” said Verl.

She wants to see an inquiry into murdered and missing women, but more than that, she wants to know what happened to her sister.

Do you have more information on any of these cases?

CBC needs you

Contact us by email at mmiw@cbc.ca or anonymously via SecureDrop.

CBC News continues to investigate missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada, looking at the unsolved cases and telling the stories of the families and communities.