Three weeks since the suspected abduction of two young Cochrane girls, RCMP appear to be at a standstill despite “working around the clock” to locate them.
Five-year-old Leonine O’Driscoll-Zak and her two-year-old sister, Wyatt O’Driscoll-Zak, were last seen March 12 — the same day a judge granted custody to their father following a tense legal battle.
Mounties believe the girls are with their maternal grandmother, Therese O’Driscoll, and an aunt, Alison O’Driscoll, who are “receiving assistance from others to prevent them from being found.”
“Police have not stopped investigating and won’t stop until they locate the children,” RCMP said in a statement Thursday.
Anyone assisting the family could face criminal charges, RCMP warned.
Legal documents reference a “high conflict” situation between the girls’ mother, Jacqui O’Driscoll-Zak, and father, Colin Zak, after their separation in July 2019. Both parties allege misconduct by the other in relation to parenting of the girls.
Colin said his sole focus is locating his daughters safely.
“I’ll move mountains to find them,” he said Friday morning. “We’re just so desperately worried about the girls. It’s been three weeks today and our hearts are beyond broken.”
He’s worried Leonine and Wyatt could be in harm’s way.
“We’re just going on hunches,” said Colin. “We don’t know where the girls are.”
He said the situation has deteriorated in the “most extreme way” after months of back-and-forth between the parents’ respective lawyers. That issue is still before the court.
Diann Castle, one of the lawyers representing Jacqui, said the girls’ mother is feeling “terrible.”
“She’s a wreck,” said Castle. “These children are all that she lived for, worked for, everything. Can you imagine not seeing your kids for three weeks?”
Castle said the case is one of the most unique she’s seen in her 32-year career, noting “everything on this file stinks.” The girls’ mother is requesting a stay of the March 12 custody decision and recusal of the judge who rendered the judgment, stating “due process has not been followed.”
Co-counsel Tanya Kelm said there’s a “complicated history behind it all” but RCMP are only investigating one possible conclusion.
“It’s assumed the grandmother and the aunt have abducted the children,” Kelm said Thursday. “There has been no exploration of the alternatives.”
She said there are concerns about the safety of the children and of their grandmother and aunt.
“(It appears) the RCMP has a reason to believe they’re safe — and I hope they do, because if they don’t and their bodies show up somewhere else I would be very upset,” said Castle.
The children’s grandmother, 68-year-old Therese, is described as Caucasian with blue eyes and medium-length grey hair, about five feet two inches tall and weighing around 120 pounds. Their aunt Alison is Caucasian with blue eyes and long brown hair, about five feet three inches tall and weighing about 120 pounds.
Both Leonine and Wyatt are described as Caucasian with blue eyes, long blond hair and slim builds.
Anyone with information related to the investigation is asked to contact the Cochrane RCMP at 403-932-2211. Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.P3Tips.com