January 22, 2018
Investigators from the RCMP's "K" Division Historical Homicide Unit (HHU) are continuing to push forward with three separate investigations, each involving a woman who initially had been reported missing in Alberta but believed by police to have been victims of homicide.
The three cases, although not believed to be related, span a period of approximately 30 years from 1983 to 2013. The victims in each case are women who vary in age from 16-years-old to 70-years-old and none of them have been found to-date. All three cases remain unsolved, but it is the belief of S/Sgt. Jason Zazulak, who heads up the "K" Division HHU, as well as of the investigators who comprise the unit, that each case can and will be solved.
The first case is that of Shelly Ann Bacsu who was 16-years-of-age when she was reported missing to Hinton RCMP on May 3, 1983 after she failed to return home from a friend's residence in Hinton, a walk of seven kilometers which she had done many times before. Family members became concerned when Shelly Ann did not arrive home by 9:30 that evening and when their own search failed to locate the teen by 11:30 p.m., they reported her missing to the RCMP detachment in Hinton. Extensive searches by the RCMP of the Town of Hinton and the surrounding rural area did not locate Shelly Ann but police did find several of her belongings alongside the Athabasca River near the Town of Hinton. Investigators believe that Shelly Ann was killed and continue to seek her remains.
Stephanie Stewart (70) was working at the Athabasca Fire Lookout Tower near Hinton as an employee of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development in the summer of 2006. Colleagues became concerned about her wellbeing when she failed to call in on the morning of Aug. 26, 2006. A visit to Stephanie's cabin revealed that all was not well and the RCMP was called in to investigate. Evidence at the scene led investigators to believe that Stewart had been murdered. Searches throughout the surrounding area and elsewhere failed to locate her.
It was on Nov. 30, 2013 when 44-year-old Deanna MacNeil was reported missing to the Vegreville RCMP detachment by a friend after she had not been heard from within the preceding 48 hours, something which the friend thought very unusual as Deanna was in the habit of contacting her several times a day. The police investigation confirmed that Deanna had been seen in Mundare at the Servus Credit Union ATM, the Mundare Liquor Store and lastly at a friend's place around 12:30 p.m. on the morning of Nov. 28, 2013. Police conducted several searches including two extensive ones of the Mundare townsite, but Deanna was not located. Friends and family have not had any contact from Deanna since she was reported missing. The RCMP believes that she was the victim of homicide.
S/Sgt. Jason Zazulak, NCO i/c "K" Division HHU believes that these investigations will be solved and that the key pieces of information which will allow HHU investigators to identify the persons responsible for the deaths of these women are known by members of the public. "In each of these three cases, we know that there are people out there who have knowledge of what happened to Shelly Ann, Deanna and Stephanie. We want to hear from those people, whether it be through Crime Stoppers, through their local detachment or through our own social media channels."
The rapid expansion and adoption of social media in many facets of the lives of Canadians has opened up the opportunity for the RCMP to receive new information about cases through the use of social media accounts held directly by the homicide investigators themselves. Cpl. Kerry Shima of HHU is the lead investigator for Stephanie Stewart's case. He has a Twitter account and will be tweeting about Stephanie's case as well as topics related to unsolved homicides. The Twitter account is @KerryShima_RCMP.
The RCMP encourages anyone with information about any of these cases to contact their local detachment or police agency. Individuals may guarantee their anonymity by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting their information at www.crimestoppers.ab.ca. Also, details can be submitted to the Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains at www.canadasmissing.ca.
The families of these three women deserve to know what happened, to bring their loved ones home, and see a resolution through an arrest of the person or persons responsible.
Cpl. Hal Turnbull
RCMP, "K" Division
Strategic Communications Unit
Case Summaries for Media Reference
Shelly Ann BACSU
Hinton RCMP Detachment
Occurrence Date: May 3, 1983
On May 3, 1983, Shelly Ann Bacsu was reported missing from Hinton, Alta. At approximately 8:15 p.m., on that date, Shelly Ann left a friend's house in the Sunset Trailer Park in Hinton and began to walk home, a distance of about 7 km. Witnesses saw her cut through the trailer park and then walk westbound along the shoulder of Highway 16 carrying her school books. At approximately 9:30 p.m., friends and family members became concerned that she had not arrived home. Despite their efforts to locate Shelly Ann, there was no trace of her and at approximately 11:30 p.m. Shelly Ann's mother notified the RCMP that her daughter was missing. A dark colored van had been observed stopped on the side of Highway 16 in the same area where Shelly Ann was last seen, on the western outskirts of the Town of Hinton. A western Canada search for the van and/or its occupants was not successful. Several days after Shelly Ann was last seen, some of her belongings were found alongside the Athabasca River near the Town of Hinton. Extensive ground, air and river searches in the area have yielded no further clues and Shelly Ann Bacsu has never been located. The investigation to date strongly suggests that Bacsu was a victim of homicide.
At the time of her disappearance Shelly Ann Bacsu was 16 years old, was about 5' tall and weighed approximately 90 lbs. She had shoulder-length dark brown hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a grey and burgundy jacket, a burgundy shirt, "Fancy Ass" jeans with a burgundy stripes and grey running shoes when she was last seen.
Hinton RCMP Detachment
Occurrence Date: August 26, 2006
On Aug. 26, 2006, Stephanie Stewart was reported missing from the Athabasca Fire Lookout Tower near Hinton, Alta., where she lived and worked as an Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) employee. Stephanie had worked at the tower for 13 years during the fire season of April to October, and was a very physically fit and experienced outdoors enthusiast. On Aug. 26, 2006, Stephanie failed to call in the morning weather report, which was highly unusual. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact her, Stephanie was reported missing by her ESRD supervisor. Another employee was sent to check on Stephanie and found her cabin empty with obvious signs of a disturbance; blood was found on the steps and a boiling pot of water was on the stove. A large scale Search and Rescue operation was launched, but Stephanie Stewart has never been located. Based on the totality of the investigation to date, RCMP believe Stewart was also the victim of homicide.
Stephanie Stewart was 70 years old when she went missing. She was about 5'2' tall and weighed approximately 105 lbs. Stephanie had chin-length grey hair and blue eyes.
There is no clothing description associated to the last time she was seen.
Vegreville RCMP Detachment
Occurrence Date: November 28, 2013
Nov. 30, 2013, Deanna MacNeil was reported missing from Mundare, Alta. Deanna was last seen two days earlier, on Nov. 28, 2013. Video surveillance footage showed Deanna at the Mundare Servus Credit Union ATM at 9:03 a.m. and at the Mundare Liquor Store at 10:37 a.m. She was last seen by friends at her residence in Mundare at approximately 12:30 p.m. on the same day. A female friend reported Deanna missing to the Vegreville RCMP on November 30, 2013. Deanna was in the habit of calling her friend several times a day and it was very unusual that she had not checked in and had not been seen anywhere in a 48-hour period. Two extensive ground searches of the Mundare townsite were conducted with negative results. Deanna has had no contact with her family or friends since she was reported missing and her body has never been recovered. Here too, investigators believe that Deanna MacNeil was the victim of homicide.
Deanna MacNeil was 44 years old when she went missing. She was about 5'5" tall and weighed approximately 125 lbs. She had shoulder-length brown hair and hazel eyes.
There is no clothing description associated to the last time she was seen. However, she was wearing a brown winter parka in the Nov. 28 video surveillance recordings, and this jacket was not found amongst the clothing recovered at her residence.