At the end of Janet Keall’s presentation to Prince Rupert residents on Dec. 9 she signed off with #janetsolvedit.
More than 20 years of searching for her biological mother who abandoned her on the Prince Rupert hospital steps in 1977, and at last Keall had solved her own mystery.
But does that mean it’s a closed case for the RCMP and what role did the police play in the Rupert’s Babies saga where three infants were abandoned by the same mother in the late 70s?
“Originally Janet reached out to us in 2004,” said Sgt. Dave Uppal of the Prince Rupert RCMP.
“We reached out through the RCMP to try to locate her mother at that time or the person responsible for the abandonment. Unfortunately no tips or any leads came in at that time.”
Keall didn’t have any valuable leads at that time either, which was why she re-launched her campaign to find her biological mother in 2016. By utilizing social media, her call was answered and eventually it drew her to discover she had two half-siblings.
She reached out to the RCMP again. But now there were three children that had been abandoned, something Keall had uncovered through her own work, and paying for DNA testing.
“Then we looked at it again and said this is something we have to be involved in because at the end of the day, child abandonment is a serious issue,” Uppal said.
In the criminal code, anyone who abandons or exposes a child under 10-years of age so that their life is likely to be endangered or health is likely to be injured could be found guilty of an offence and could face prison time up to five years.
At the town hall event, where Keall told her story to an audience at the Lester Centre of the Arts, she said she wants to change the criminal code for abandonment.
“We have a chance more than ever to reunite with our biological familiess, except that we have this big bad thing in the back of our minds, ‘Wow, our mother was a criminal,’” she said.
Now, Keall wants to enact a statue of limitations to set a timeframe for when a person could be charged for the offence.
“I had some meetings in Vancouver before I came here, I want to enact a statue of limitations so when people like us, me the victim, however you want to call it, we actually can reunite with no fear,” she said.
But did her biological mother ever have to fear being convicted of abandoning her three children?
“We would have to look at the totality of the circumstance,” Uppal said. “I don’t think it’s a simple yes or no answer. At the end of the day we still don’t know who abandoned the children. Was it the mother or somebody else?”
All three children were also left in good health, wrapped in a blanket and in a place where they would have been found where their lives were not likely to be endangered.
Although Keall is the complainant on the RCMP file, she is protecting the identity of the mother, now deceased.
Uppal said the RCMP didn’t receive any tips to determine who was responsible for the abandonment and for now, the case will remain open.