Family hopes billboards will spark tips about couple missing near Edmonton

The family of a missing Alberta couple plans to erect billboards west of Edmonton in the hope the signs will spark tips about the mysterious disappearance.

EDMONTON — Emotionally exhausted but still hopeful, the family of a missing Alberta couple plans to put up billboards and enlist the help of hunters to glean tips about the mysterious disappearance of the two seniors.

Up to six billboards along roads west of Edmonton are to include a picture of Lyle and Marie McCann, both in their 70s, who were last seen on July 3 gassing up their motorhome in their hometown of St. Albert, just north of Edmonton.

The hope is that the signs going up later this month between the rural community of Wildwood and an area of heavy bush near Chip Lake will jar someone’s memory or poke someone’s conscience, said Bret McCann, the couple’s son.

“Please help us find my parents. That will be the wording. We are going to emphasize the $60,000 reward,” McCann said. “We are hoping that this will loosen some lips out there.”

The couple’s burning motorhome was found on July 5 about 200 kilometres west of Edmonton. Two weeks later, the SUV the couple had been hauling on their vacation trip was found abandoned in thick bush in the area.

On Aug. 31, RCMP named Travis Vader as a suspect in the disappearance. Vader, 38, is being held in custody on unrelated charges.

A team of 20 Mounties continues to investigate and has checked out well over 200 tips. RCMP say they are making progress, but have not announced any significant developments since Vader was named a suspect.

McCann said family and friends are distributing flyers with information about the missing couple to stores that sell hunting licences. Some store owners have agreed to pass out a flyer to each hunter who buys a licence for the general season that opens Nov. 1.

The idea is that a hunter trudging through the woods and bush may find something that will help the investigation. A few weeks ago, someone phoned in a tip about seeing an RV near Chip Lake in early July. RCMP investigated the tip and cut down some trees in the area looking for evidence.

The family is desperate to keep the McCanns in the public eye.

After an initial burst of media stories in July and August, the missing couple is no longer drawing as much interest, McCann said.

“There are so many other calamities that are happening in the world. As time goes by people forget about this.

“The police keep telling us that they believe that Vader had something to do with my parent’s disappearance, but there were multiple vehicles. It’s hard to imagine him doing this by himself.”

McCann said he has full confidence in the RCMP, but family members want to do everything they can to help find the couple.

Not knowing where the McCanns are or what happened to them has taken its toll.

“It has been a nightmare. It is hard to think of anything else,” their son said. “When you wake up in the morning, five seconds later it all comes back to you.

“It is just there all of the time.”