Human remains linked to missing teen

GRANDE PRAIRIE — The father of one of two teenage girls who disappeared six years ago while hitchhiking in Alberta is relieved he can finally grieve.

GRANDE PRAIRIE — The father of one of two teenage girls who disappeared six years ago while hitchhiking in Alberta is relieved he can finally grieve.

Edmonton RCMP knocked on the door of Jo Gunning’s home in Fort St. John, B.C., on Thursday night to tell him his 19-year-old daughter, Rene, was dead.

Her dental records were linked to one of two skulls found last month by a camper near Grande Prairie, Alta.

“It’s still a bit of a shock,” said Gunning. “I thought I’d prepared myself, but I hadn’t.

“I just don’t want any other family going through what we’ve been going through these past six years. At least we’re one of the lucky ones and we can get some closure now.”

But the family of the other missing teen, Krystle Knott, 16, of Dawson Creek, B.C., is still waiting for news.

Knott and her new pal Rene were last seen at West Edmonton Mall on Feb. 18, 2005. RCMP said the aboriginal girls apparently met at the mall and told friends they were going to hitch a ride together back to B.C.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Tim Taniguchi said other forensic techniques, including DNA testing, are being used to identify the second skull. He did not know how long it might take to get results.

He said the Knott family is being updated on the investigation.

“But we deal with facts and we deal with evidence, and the second set of human remains are still unidentified,” said Taniguchi.

He confirmed the deaths are considered suspicious.

Project Kare officers are involved in the case. The RCMP-led unit investigates murdered or missing people who lead high-risk lifestyles.

Detectives have determined the two teens were not involved in prostitution, but their habit of hitchhiking placed them at risk for violent crime.

Eighteen women, some hitchhikers and some aboriginal, have either been murdered or disappeared in recent years along Highway 16 in northern British Columbia

The Highway of Tears, as it has become known, runs 750 kilometres between coastal Prince Rupert and Prince George, about 800 kilometres north of Vancouver.

Gunning said the last time family talked to Rene she planned to hitchhike to Edmonton to get away from a bad boyfriend and to get over a recent miscarriage.

At the time, she had a baby boy. Gunning is now raising seven-year-old D’Andre.

Gunning said he’ll continue to participate each year in the aboriginal Sisters in Spirit walk to raise awareness for missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“Word just doesn’t get out there when it comes to native women going missing or murdered,” he said. “People tend to brush it under the rug, so to speak. And they’ve got to realize that these women, although they might have problems, they’re still human beings, somebody’s mother, somebody’s daughter.

“They can’t be forgotten.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

FILE - In this Friday Aug. 21, 2020 file photo, Leonid Volkov, a top strategist for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, addresses the media in Berlin, Germany. Activists for imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are calling for massive protests in the heart of Moscow and St. Petersburg as Navalny's health reportedly is deteriorating severely while on hunger strike. Leonid Volkov, a top strategist for Navalny, said the demonstrations are called on short notice for Wednesday April 21, 2021, because "his life hangs in the balance. ... We don't know how long he can hold on." (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)
Navalny’s team calls protests amid reports of failing health

MOSCOW — Associates of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called Sunday… Continue reading

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures during a news conference Sunday, April 4, 2021, at the Manatee County Emergency Management office in Palmetto, Fla. DeSantis has received a single-dose coronavirus vaccine. His office confirmed Wednesday, April 7, 2021 that the Republican governor got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only a single dose. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, file)
GOP White House hopefuls move forward as Trump considers run

WASHINGTON — Less than three months after former President Donald Trump left… Continue reading

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read