Anti-vaccine Sask. dad in hiding with daughter, 7, often talked about taking her away, says former friend
Carievale, Sask. residents say they worry about girl's health, safety as ordeal nears 2-month mark
A Saskatchewan man who says he's in hiding with his 7-year-old daughter to protect her from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine often talked of taking her away from her mother forever, says a former friend.
CBC News has also learned Michael Jackson, also known as "Mike" and "Mikey," is being assisted financially by at least one business associate.
"He always talked about taking off, almost obsessed with the idea. It was always the plan to take the girl," said Carievale, Sask., resident Kurt Jedel.
"He was going to drive up to Alaska then take a boat over to Russia, dye his hair and they'd disappear. If that didn't work, he said he'd go up to the bush and live off the grid."
No one has seen the pair in person since mid-November.
In an interview Tuesday with CBC News, the girl's mother, Regina educational assistant Mariecar Jackson, issued an emotional message to her daughter and pleaded for her return.
"Mommy loves you so much. Every day, I pray that some day you'll be home. I love you so much. Mommy is standing strong and some day we will be together," she said.
Mariecar Jackson said all she wants is her daughter to be home safe. She said she "wanted to set aside the issue of vaccination for the time being and focus on the emotional and physical well being" of her daughter.
WATCH | Sask. woman says she'll never stop looking for her child:
Residents of Carievale, a village of 200 people in southeast Saskatchewan, say they grow more afraid for the girl's physical and emotional safety every day.
"That poor woman. It must be hell. And this little girl. This poor little girl," local resident Janice McKenzie said.
Police launch investigation, issue public appeal
McKenzie and other residents interviewed wondered why there had been no amber alert or news release requesting public assistance during the past two months. This week, CBC repeatedly asked RCMP and Regina police about the case.
Regina police said they could not act unless the complainant came to their offices with relevant court orders and other documents. CBC told Regina police Mariecar Jackson's lawyer, Jill Drennan, had already sent them the court orders directing police to act.
Thursday evening, Regina police visited Mariecar Jackson's home to tell her they were now launching a formal investigation, Drennan said.
RCMP did not respond to several interview requests this week, but issued a news release Saturday asking for help locating Jackson and the girl.
"Michael Gordon Jackson is described as a 52-year-old male, weighing approximately 250 pounds with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He typically wears glasses. He does not have a known vehicle. He resides in the Carievale, Sask., area and may have connections to the communities of Dilke, Oxbow, Alameda, Regina, Saskatchewan and Lamont, Alberta. However, he may be in other communities," stated the release.
Anyone with information on the location of Jackson or the girl is asked to call Saskatchewan RCMP at 310-RCMP (7267) or (306) 780-5563. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1‐800‐222‐TIPS (8477) or saskcrimestoppers.com, stated the release.
Jedel, who said their friendship ended shortly before Jackson left, said he didn't believe Jackson would actually follow through. He kept asking Jackson how he planned to make money.
CBC News confirmed Jackson is being assisted financially by at least one business associate who spoke to him by phone a few weeks ago.
Greg Schietsel said he supports Jackson and is happy to help him out.
"I believe in what Mike's doing. He's just protecting his child," said the Alameda, Sask., auto parts dealer.
"Yes, he is radical, but he only does what he believes. He's getting picked on. It's a shame the guy has to run."
Schietsel said it's clear Jackson loves his daughter. He doesn't believe he would ever harm her.
Schietsel said he made arrangements to sell off the machine and auto parts in Jackson's shop for him if necessary.
Schietsel said he had no idea Jackson would leave with the girl, but is keeping his promise.
Schietsel said he recently sold some headlights for Jackson and then paid Jackson's monthly property tax bill of roughly $600. He said he'll keep selling items for Jackson, and talked to him as recently as three weeks ago when Jackson called from a blocked phone number.
CBC News asked Schietsel if he's concerned about helping a man in hiding with a 7-year-old girl in defiance of numerous court orders. The orders, the most recent issued Jan. 5, revoke all of Jackson's custody rights and demand she be returned to her mother in Regina.
"The man is a friend of mine. Where I come from, you help your friends," he said.
Schietsel said RCMP came to his house to question him about the financial assistance but did not charge him with anything. He said they accused him of spiriting Jackson and the girl to Manitoba or across the U.S. border, but Schietsel said he did not.
Jackson appeared remotely on an online talk show last week. For 45 minutes, he repeated a number of disproven and unsubstantiated theories, including the need to protect the girl from a vaccine that he said could render her sterile.
This week, CBC News interviewed more than a dozen other people in and around Carievale, a village of 200 people in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan.
They say it's important to share their experiences with Michael Jackson so police and the public realize the urgency of the situation and help return the girl to her mother.
Jackson was born in Ontario, Jedel said. He ended up in Alberta doing carpentry work in Fort McMurray, Jedel said. That didn't work out and he ended up living in a trailer park in Stony Plain, Alta.
That's where he met Janice McKenzie and Wade Gebkenjans. The couple moved shortly after to Carievale "and the next thing I know he was here," Gebkenjans said.
He and Mariecar, a recent immigrant from the Philippines, got married, had a child and built a shop with a suite on land purchased from the village.
The woman and daughter were rarely seen outside the home, say residents, but residents say he repeatedly initiated confrontations.
Former village councillor and maintenance worker Coby Murray stopped by the family's home one day to tell Jackson a permit was required for the fence he was building.
Murray said Jackson yelled, "F--k off, goon!" Murray said Jackson began videotaping him, screaming he was being harassed.
"Then he turns off the video, walked up to truck and punched me in the face," Murray said.
Murray recalled another incident inside the village office, when an administrator was explaining a form to Jackson.
Jackson smacked her hand, took back the form and said, "That's not how things work, b---h" before storming out, Murray said.
"He made an enemy wherever he went. Everything would go south and it was always someone else's fault," said Rhonda Halliday, another resident who says she was threatened repeatedly by Jackson after she insisted he pay roughly $200 cash on delivery of an item.
Residents say Jackson has been banned from various businesses and the village office because of his behaviour.
Jackson and his wife divorced several years ago. The girl went to school and lived with her mother in Regina, but Jackson had partial custody until the recent court orders terminated it.
Mariecar Jackson's lawyer, Jill Drennan, said police were repeatedly called to enforce the custody arrangements when Jackson would be late returning the girl, even before this incident, and even before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Drennan said she's been talking this week with police, but as of Friday afternoon, there have been no developments.
Residents say RCMP did search the family's Carievale home and several others, but Jackson and the girl were gone by that time.
"It's been two months. He's ahead of the game. He has a big head start," McKenzie said.
CBC News has attempted unsuccessfully to reach Michael Jackson through the email listed in court documents, as well as by other means.
Residents said they're driving area roads, sharing social media posts and trying their best to find any clues that will reunite Mariecar Jackson with her daughter.
"This poor woman," Halliday said. "It just breaks our heart."