RCMP move ahead with missing person investigation

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Police took a step forward in the ongoing investigation of a missing woman last week by searching Morley area wetlands exposed after this summer’s dry weather.

“We feel very sad, heartbroken … but very, very thankful for the Cochrane RCMP having the case and all the work done,” Sara Coates’ mother, Dubhe, said yesterday morning. “It gives us a little more peace of mind, getting those ponds searched.

“It’s just been a very, very hard five years.”

Over two days last week, Cochrane RCMP members – along with more than 50 volunteers with area search and rescue teams – scoured an area of Morley looking for anything that could bring closure to the family.

Coates was last seen by her mom in the Stanley Park neighborhood of Calgary on Aug. 2, 2012, and was officially reported missing to police in December of the same year.

The 30-year-old had been living in the Radium-Columbia Valley area of British Columbia in a 1992 blue Chevy Astro van with her pets for about a year before she disappeared.

In October 2013, a Morley resident discovered the van on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, which belonged to the red-haired, blue-eyed woman.

Though the file has remained open and active for police, and other searches had been planned and postponed over the last few years, the case had mainly gone cold until the searches on Sept. 12 and 16.

“Last week, we attended our previous search areas to assess the region in light of the extremely dry weather this year,” said Cochrane RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff. “We discovered a large amount of land that was previously covered in water was now dry, and we wanted to ensure that we took full advantage of this. Thanks to our partners with Search and Rescue, we were able to get a large number of boots on the ground in a very short amount of time.”

Although police cannot reveal whether anything of investigative value was found, Dubhe said she was present at the Morley area site during the organized sweeps and appreciates “how extensively and carefully” officers and volunteers searched for anything that may have been useful.

“It’s a vast area,” she said. “It’s hard for people who haven’t been there to understand the situation.”

The case is still considered an active and open investigation and officers will follow up on any leads going forward. Dubhe said she is thankful for the thoughtful attention her daughter and her disappearance continues to receive.

“It’s really impossible to put into words. I’m just going to put my trust in the Cochrane RCMP,” said Dubhe. “What’s kept me personally going all these years is I’ve kept my faith in the RCMP, and I continue to do so.

“The RCMP are working on the case.”

Police urge anyone who may have had contact with Sara Coates or her Chevy Astro van in and around the above dates, or any other information in connection with the case, to contact the Cochrane detachment at (403) 851-8000, Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or on the internet at www.tipsubmit.com.

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