Monday, March 28, 2011

Little Michael Dunahee, gone without a trace

Bruce and Crystal Dunahee asked for information on the whereabouts of their son on the 20th anniversary of his disappearance.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
March 28, 2011


Michael Dunahee is the boy everyone knows but no one has met.

He has been missing now two decades, the details of his disappearance as chilling of those of a television docudrama. Last seen at a playground next to a school. A father looking back while standing on a rocky outcropping, puzzled why he can’t spot his son. Two touch football games halted as players scour the area. A frantic telephone call to police at 12:03 p.m. on March 22, 1991.

A tape recording of the call was marked Exhibit No. 1 and sealed in a manila envelope before being placed in a file cabinet at police headquarters.

It is evidence in a case that remains more mystery than crime. After 20 years of investigation, after the checking of thousands of tips, after input from do-gooders and psychics and troublemakers, no charges have been laid.

Michael Dunahee in a family photo.
There is no crime scene.

There is only the absence of a boy.

Crystal and Bruce Dunahee, the parents who have carried this burden for so long, once again appeared before cameras and microphones last week. They do what they can to ensure the case of their missing son is not forgotten by the public.

As if any of us who live in Victoria, any of us who are parents, any of us with empathy could ever forget.

Michael Dunahee vanished 7,311 days ago. For more than half that time, Don Bland, a detective sergeant with the Victoria police, worked on the case. On the first anniversary of the boy’s disappearance, he showed me the department’s work to that point: 12,000 tips; 789 possible sightings; exhibits including another sealed envelope whose contents included a boy’s grey sock and underwear decorated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, samples from a missing boy’s dresser drawer available for comparison should such a gruesome task be necessary.

With each passing year, it seems ever more incredible to imagine that a missing boy has survived to become a man.

“If he were still out there — and here’s hoping he is — he’s 24 years old,” said Mr. Bland. “If he is still with us, he doesn’t know where he came from, or thinks he was raised by somebody that isn’t really his true parents. If it’s gone this long, god knows how much longer it could go.”

Mr. Bland, 57, retired as a detective more than seven years ago. He is not by nature an optimist, the sunny side of life not always apparent for those whose working days involve corpses.

“Everything you can surmise might happen is based on assumptions based on the balance of probabilities,” he said.

“Statistically speaking I don’t think it’s a good outcome. Crystal, bless her heart, she’s still holding out hope. I hope she’s right.”

He remains stumped by the Dunahee case.

He heard about the missing boy on the day he disappeared, was on the case the following morning.

“You’ve got a set of parents and you couldn’t imagine anything worse happening to them,” he said. “At the same time, as an investigator, you have to look at them as suspects. It’s a touchy business.”

Police checked out the parents, the football players, the neighbours. All were cleared.

For the first month, he worked 20-hour days on the case. Michael was reported spotted at a highway rest stop in New York; at a convenience store in New Jersey; in a home video filmed on northern Vancouver Island. Every lead was checked out. Someone called in to say Michael, the cherubic, blue-eyed boy from the Missing posters, had his skin dyed black and was living in the United States. That, too, was checked out.

“After thousands of interviews and re-enactments, there’s not a living soul who saw him disappear,” he said.

“Except the person who took him.”

He spent 27 years “at the pointy end of policing,” walking the beat before finishing as a detective with major crimes. He handled plenty of cases — a gangland slaying; the strangulation of teenager Kimberley Gallup, whose body was found in a motel room; “a few drug murders here and there.” Some were solved, some were not.
He wishes he could have brought the Dunahee case to a resolution.

“I would have liked to have settled it, one way or the other,” he said.

“Bad news is better than no news.”

On Facebook, you can find a page titled “We will never forgot Michael Dunahee.” It has 6,210 members. It is administered by Caitlin Dunahee, a young woman who now plays touch football like her mother before her. She was born shortly before her brother went missing, a time so long passed that he disappeared before the World Wide Web even was available on the Internet.


Unknown said...

Do the Dunahee's have friends or family in the Coaldale area?

S.E.B & J.A.D. said...

iserve pharmacy

It's a hard situation, I can't imagine how awful can be all this for them (family and friends...). 20 years is a lot! What's going on with the authorities? you're right, it's a chilling story.

chevguy1967 said...

I reported to police back in late 1990s of a guy who molested me for several years and molested and still molests lil boys. 2 of whom I knew personally and commited suicide...I tried too and so did many others. But what I added to the report was....he should be main suspect in Michaels disapearance...reasoning for saying? He lived within 2 blocks of park where Michael went missing from, he left Victoria less than 2 weeks later, had a vehicle that matched discription, posted Missing posters all over the vehicle, and crushed that vehicle within a week of moving to NANAIMO....there was absolutely nothing wrong with the vehicle and left him vehicleless for sometime after. He also confided in one of his gay partners that he had done so...and that guy confeesed to me and others that he had to leave town quickly for he was going to wind up dead...because he knew about Dunahee boy. Add it all up and the type of offender he is..and still is. For anyone reading this...especially MR or MS Dunahee...I implore you to please push the police to bring him in again for they did when he lived in Kelowna when i reported it...maybe they willl be alil more willing to listen to you. HIS NAME IS GREGORY ALLAN STEELE. I hjave not slept many a night thinking of your son...and knowing what I know. Ive even thought of justice on my own...for me...others and of course Michael. I hope this reachs you as I cant any other way Ive tried.

chevguy1967 said...

Oh did go through...I am so hoping you get to read this and so hoping they check harder into this...the name of the guy who they need to talk with...DUNCAN AYR...not sure if spelling is correct. But I hope this gives you the lead you beable to put a name to who did this and put him where he belongs. They picked both of these guys up for questioning and just released him because he denied it.....what of a polygraph..and stuff...what of victims statements...dont we account for anything...well sadly not...of course he will deny it, think he hes going to say he did...of course not...make him prove he didnt...atleasst a polygraph might help.

twasbrillig said...

These comments from chevguy1967 are obviously true, surely there has to be some way to reinterview these two people: Gregory Allan Steele and Duncan Ayr?

They need to be watched round the clock.

If they have done it once, they will do it again and probably have...

ivanhenry geographical profiling said...

Could you please tell me what sort of a vehicle was seen prior to and or after michael disappeared. There were several other young people who disappeared as did Michael. My knowledge comes from understanding the degenerate who would do something as terrible as taking a child. The Steel person may of lived several blocks away but there happens to be a specific signature which is compleltly compulsive to Michael. This happens to be someone that I personally believe 100 percent is guilty in other child kidnappings and as he grew older took young teenagers, boy or girl meant nothing.The aforementioned to watch Steele and Ayr is much too to late. The real culprit is sitting in jail under a murder and dangerous offender sentence being told by his father and lawyers to shut his mouth. He doesn't believe in God and for him to tell the parents of a multiple kidnappings of there children ((((may))) go uncovered, then again my second book will uncover the serial murderer's of children and of teens and older people throughout the promise of British Columbia and now escalated into other provinces. My name Is Ivan William Mervin Henry. I have researched three men and one woman for almost 17 years. They aren't too smart, though they have the backing of authorities to get away with all sorts of evils, as his own mouth said he was responsible for three murders yet that was swept under the counter. This individual is out of existence but the two others are not. Hell is there journey but DNA should be taken from everyone to solve the highway of tears, and mursers over 600 plus that have stayed unsolved in the murder province of canada.

geographical profile henry said...

its really too bad that people can't put two and two together.
The person responsible was 25 years old, born in 1965, and was compulsive on the spot. Picked a eight year old girl in Chillwack with his motorcycle and drove off. He was active and his descrition fits Chilliwack in the bus stop rapes, Vancouver, January one month prior the the chilliwack disappearance. I'm not paid to be a policeman, but its my opinion I can match him to much much more.AMEN,

vseved981 said...

Did Michael had a niece from his father side who would be about 13 years old at the time of his disappearance?Was she visiting the Dunahees at that time?

vseved981 said...

I meant a female cousin(niece of Michael's dad.)

Concerned Citzen said...

Hi, looking at the Lay out of the Blanshard Play ground & the sorounding buildings. I am curious did the Police ever investigate whether anyone was working at the school over the weekend MICHAEL was anducted

Beautifullife said...

There weren't any children who disappeared from that region afterwards. It's why the Dunahee case was so huge.