Northern Alta. remains ID'd as B.C. woman

Human remains found near Grande Prairie, Alta., last month have been identified as a young woman from B.C. who went missing in 2005.

Skull belonged to young woman last seen at West Edmonton Mall

Krystle Knott (left) and Rene Gunning (right) disappeared in 2005. Gunning's remains were found near Grande Prairie in May. A second set of remains has yet to be identified. (RCMP)

Human remains found near Grande Prairie, Alta., last month have been identified as a young woman from B.C. who went missing in 2005.

The Edmonton Medical Examiner's Office identified the remains through dental records as those of Rene Lynn Gunning, 19, of Fort St. John, B.C.

Her father was contacted by RCMP on Thursday.

"I was devastated," said Jo Gunning. "It's something I didn't want to hear but at the same time it was something I needed to hear for us to move on."

"I been trying to prepare myself for this sort of thing ever since she went missing, but when it happens it's quite the shock," he said.  

A second set of human remains found at the same location is still unidentified. The remains were found by campers 60 kilometres south of Grande Prairie on May 21.

The investigation of the remains is being led by Project KARE, which examines cases of murdered or missing persons in Alberta who live high-risk lifestyles.     

Police don't believe Gunning or Knott worked as prostitutes, but say their reliance on hitchhiking put them at risk.       

Gunning was last seen on Feb. 18, 2005, at West Edmonton Mall with Krystle Knott, 16, of Dawson Creek, B.C., who is still missing, said RCMP. 

The two young aboriginal women had told friends they were going to hitchhike home together to Dawson Creek or Fort St. John.

Gunning had hitchhiked to the mall from Fort St. John the day before, while Knott had arrived in Edmonton a couple of weeks earlier.

The women did not know each other prior to meeting at the mall, police said.     

The last six years have been difficult, said Jo Gunning, who has been raising his daughter's son — now eight years old.

"I've been going on these Sisters in Spirit walks with the aboriginal society and that has given me a lot of comfort to know there are other people out there who know what I've been going through."