A private investigator has taken on the difficult case of trying to bring justice and closure to the many family members and friends affected by the Highway of Tears tragedy, but he first needs their help to complete his review of the many unsolved cases of murdered and missing victims.
“If there is a witness out there and if they step forward, my first objective would be to ensure that information is given to the RCMP investigators or any investigators that are dealing with the E-PANA [a RCMP work looking into the Highway of Tears case load] project,” said Lee Hanlon, a criminologist and private investigator based out of Mission.
Hanlon said there are 18 Highway of Tears victims spanning the distance of Highway. 16 from Prince George to Prince Rupert and he would like to speak to the surviving family members of the victims, as well as anyone who may have information.
His private Highway of Tears investigation began approximately two weeks ago when he started reviewing all the media information on the case load, but he first became interested in the cases through a previous investigation.
“There is one case that I did work on that I reviewed [and] it was Kathryn-Mary Herbert,” he said, noting this work began shortly after he graduated from the criminology program at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2012.
“She was abducted in Abbotsford back in 1975 and the investigators state that the same suspect in the Herbert case is the same suspect in the Theresa Hildebrandt 1976 Abbotsford case and [the] Monica Jack [case] from Merritt in 1978. Monica Jack is on the Highway of Tears file. She’s included in the E-PANA file that the RCMP are covering.”
Hanlon said his interest in investigative work and victims’ advocacy stems from his work as a victims’ rights advocate since 1999, along with his eight-year tenure as a B.C. paralegal during that time. Before becoming a private investigator, which should change from a restricted status to a full PI status by the end of the year, Hanlon served in the military for 17 years.
He said the Herbert file was the first cold case he ever worked on as a private investigator and he learned a lot of useful information while reviewing the case, which he handed off to investigators. Hanlon said the Highway of Tears case load is big considering the number of victims involved.
“There is still a long way to go,” he said.
“I really couldn’t say a time line [to completion]. I mean if no one is willing to speak to me then that part will never get done, but it’s all up to how long it will take for me to be able to speak to surviving members of the victims [and] their family members.”
People can contact Hanlon through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-604-820-2685.