Nearly nine years since human remains were located on a trail in Whitehorse, the remains have been identified and the investigation has been concluded.
On October 23, 2009, a mountain biker was traveling along a trail located off the Long Lake Road in Whitehorse when he discovered what he believed to be a human skull.
The RCMP were called and members of the Forensic Identification Section, Police Dog Service, Whitehorse RCMP detachment and Major Crimes Unit responded.
A ground search was conducted by RCMP officers, both on foot and via ATV, and an extensive grid search was done by Police Service Dog Ryder and his handler. No further remains were located.
In the weeks that followed, an autopsy, forensic anthropology work, and DNA analysis were completed on the remains. In late November 2009, the remains were confirmed to be those of a male of unknown age and ethnicity.
Over the course of the next several years, the investigation continued. Tips were followed up on, leads were pursued, and DNA comparisons were completed with a number of missing people in hopes of solving the case and providing answers to the family.
On September 6, 2016, two mountain bikers found themselves off course while biking a power line southeast of the Long Lake Road in Whitehorse. While carrying their bikes up a steep incline in a very rugged area, they came across a small backpack, walking pole, decayed clothing and other items that appeared to have been there for a number of years.
This location was 220 metres from where the human remains had been found in 2009. This may not appear to be a far distance from where the skull was found, but the location was actually on the far side of a very steep hill, in extremely rugged terrain.
In September 2016 and May 2017, further searches were completed of the area and additional items were recovered, including currency, a flashlight, watch, sunglasses, clothing and other supplies.
No identification was found, however a personal digital assistant device – severely deteriorated from being exposed to the elements for many years – was among the items recovered.
In July 2018, a Whitehorse General Investigation officer confirmed that the digital device had been purchased online by a Port Coquitlam, British Columbia man in 2006. Further investigation determined that this man had been a missing person since 2007.
In August 2018, the human remains were confirmed to be those of Terry Fai Vong of Port Coquitlam. Mr. Vong would have been 41 years old at the time his remains were discovered. The investigation determined that his death was not suspicious in nature.
The successful conclusion of this investigation was a collaboration between the Yukon Coroner’s Service, Yukon RCMP Major Crimes Unit, Forensic Identification Section, Police Dog Service, Yukon Search and Rescue, Whitehorse RCMP General Investigation Section, Whitehorse RCMP and Coquitlam RCMP.
Thank you to everyone who played a part in this investigation – however big or small. It is by working together over the past nine years that we were able to provide long-awaited answers to the family and friends of Mr. Vong.