National group to assist in search for C.B. woman
By JOCELYN BETHUNE
SYDNEY — Police have joined forces with a national missing children’s society to escalate the investigation into a missing Glace Bay woman.
Sgt. Ken O’Neill, lead investigator in the case of Brett Elizabeth McKinnon, says the Missing Children Society of Canada has resources that will help the Cape Breton regional force, including a $10,000 reward for information leading to the 20-year-old’s whereabouts.
"We have liaised with the society. Any information that we gather we will share with them in hopes of resolving the case," Sgt. O’Neill said Thursday.
"We’re still treating her as a missing person," he said.
Ms. McKinnon was reported missing by her mother on June 8. Police launched an investigation shortly afterward. Her bank account hadn’t been touched and there’d been no communication with family or friends.
But in August, a former Glace Bay resident came forward to say she had spoken with Ms. McKinnon at a campground in Ontario. The resident said the young woman was with two males and a female and appeared fine.
The missing woman had lived in Ontario for two years before moving back to Nova Scotia and settling in Glace Bay in the spring of this year with her then-boyfriend. The two shared an apartment until Ms. McKinnon left in May.
Sgt. O’Neill said Thursday that he interviewed the woman from the campground and he "is confident in what she told us," but there hasn’t been any contact between the missing woman and her family since June.
"It is unusual that she hasn’t called," he said.
Asked if foul play is suspected, Sgt. O’Neill said: "No. We won’t go down that avenue unless we get more information to suggest that."
The case has remained open since the summer, with Ms. McKinnon’s photo and description listed on a countrywide police information service, so if her name is entered into the system, she is identified as a missing person, Sgt. O’Neill said.
The Missing Children Society of Canada is posting flyers with Ms. McKinnon’s photo where she was reported last seen in Ontario and in locations where she lived, which may jog someone’s memory. The posters are also being distributed in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, he said.
"We look at cases in a slightly different way," said Liz Ballendine, spokeswoman for the non-profit organization based in Calgary that uses retired police officers to track down missing children.
"We are looking at cases like Brett’s on a daily basis. This is all that we do so the expertise that we lend is an extra pair of hands for police who are already stretched with a number of different cases," she said Thursday.
The society works on roughly 500 cases a year, she said. In 20 years of operation it has closed 5,200 cases with a 95 per cent rate of locating the missing person.
"We don’t ever close a case until we are 100 per cent sure that the person in question has been accounted for. In this case, we don’t feel she has yet been accounted for," Ms. Ballendine said Thursday.
Ms. McKinnon is described as five-foot-four and 120 pounds with long blond hair and hazel eyes. She has a quarter-shaped birthmark on her right wrist.
Anyone with information can call Cape Breton Regional Police at 563-5151, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or the Missing Children Society of Canada at 1-800-661-6160.
Thank's to Cbc.ca...... A woman who disappeared from Cape Breton six months ago was apparently in Summerside, P.E.I., last month.
'He not only said he [saw] her, he spoke with her.'
— Sgt. Ken O'Neill
Brett McKinnon, 21, of Glace Bay, was last heard from in June, but she has been sighted twice in the last month.
"The Summerside sighting was a sighting where the man came to us, he shared information [about] a personal friendship with Brett McKinnon," said Sgt. Ken O'Neill of Cape Breton Regional Police.
"He gave us some details about her background that convinced us, or at least made us feel confident, he knows Brett. He not only said he [saw] her, he spoke with her."
O'Neill said at the time of the sighting, the man was not aware McKinnon was reported missing.
In addition to the Summerside report, someone is also claiming to have seen McKinnon back in Cape Breton this week.
Police are asking anyone who knows where she is to contact them or for McKinnon herself to contact her family.
The Missing Children Society of Canada, a group set up to help search for runaway and abducted children, has put up a $10,000 reward for information about McKinnon's whereabouts.
Reward offered in search for Glace Bay woman