Surrey-based private investigator Ray Michalko, of Valley Pacific Investigations Ltd., has launched an investigation into eight women either missing or murdered along Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
Michalko hasn’t been hired by the families of any of the missing or murdered women, he said, and is using his own free time and money to follow up on a “hunch.” The disappearances and murders Michalko is looking into include those of Nicole Hoar, Tamara Chipman, Ramona Wilson, Leah Alishia Germaine, Delphine Nikal, Roxanne Thiara, Lana Derrick and, most recently, Aielah Saric-Auger.
“I followed the the news coverage and late last year I started thinking about it. I came up with a couple of theories,” Michalko said. “Early this year I decided to see if I could find any information to prove those theories.”
Last month Michalko placed an ad in the Terrace Standard newspaper asking people with information to contact him or the RCMP and Crimestoppers.
“I really had no idea if I’d get one call, no calls or a flood of calls,” Michalko said. “I’ve had a number of calls on the Terrace ad. I’ve gotten some various leads that I intend to follow further.”
Michalko said some people may feel more comfortable talking to him than to the police or even Crimestoppers because he’s not an authority figure.
He started the investigation on seven women missing since 1997, he said, but the recent murder of 14-year-old Aielah Saric-Auger in Prince George seems to fit with the others.
All but one of the women Â Nicole Hoar were aboriginal, all but one were young and all went missing or were found along the highway, he said.
“There is a lot of similarities,” Michalko said. “It’s hard to imagine seven or eight killers in such a small area. I don’t want to use the term serial killer, but it would be unusual to have seven or eight murders like this along a 450-mile stretch of highway.”
Michalko wouldn’t elaborate further on his theories, but said he plans to make a trip up to the region to follow up on some tips. He said he also plans to place ads calling for information in other newspapers along the “Highway of Tears” route.
“Obviously I’m not privy to the information police have,” Michalko said. “[And] I’m obligated to tell the police if I find any information of substance.”
Michalko said he served in the RCMP for nine years in Manitoba and B.C., and has been a private investigator for seven five as his own company.
Currently 22 RCMP officers are investigating the Saric-Auger case, while another 15 officers in Smithers, Burns Lake Prince George, Terrace and Prince Rupert are following up on eight other disappearances since 1990, according to information released by the B.C. Solicitor General.
“We have significant manpower on it,” Prince George RCMP spokesman Const. Gary Godwin said.
Godwin said the private investigation may help police by raising the profile of the cases.
“We’ve got to say anything that draws more attention to the fact that there women are missing is good,” Godwin said. “We would hope that if they found any information, that they would pass it on to police.”