National database used to link human remains discovered in B.C. to missing Calgary man

The family of a Calgary man reported missing in 2019 now has some closure thanks to the efforts of a keen-eyed Good Samaritan in B.C.

Patrick Vice, who was in his early 60s, was reported missing by his family on Dec. 12, 2019 after last being seen walking in the early-morning hours that day in downtown Calgary.

He had presented indications of distress to his family and uncharacteristic behaviour prior to his disappearance was concerning to investigators, who turned to the public for help.

"We report missing persons to the public with hopes of their support to locate individuals after all possible leads have been exhausted," said Const. Evan Nelson of the missing persons team. "Tips and information we receive from citizens is valuable and has proven to be instrumental in moving forward many missing persons cases."

In August, a Good Samaritan from Kelowna recognized similarities between Vice’s missing person profile and details of a John Doe, who’s remains were found on Dec. 14, 2019, in Vancouver.

Both were listed on the Canada’s Missing website, and the Good Samaritan notified authorities.

The BC Coroner's Service looked into the tip and DNA testing revealed the remains to be Vice.

Managed by the RCMP, Canada’s Missing is a component of the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR) website, which is Canada's national centre that assists law enforcement, medical examiners, and chief coroners with missing persons and unidentified remains investigations across the country.

NCMPUR also offers investigative support with the National Missing Persons DNA Program (NMPDP), which has helped to link missing persons to unidentified remains through DNA testing.

"Our investigators utilize many different tactics when searching for missing individuals and the NCMPUR, NMPDP and an empathetic citizen, all helped to bring closure to this case," said Nelson.

"We are grateful we were able to bring Patrick home to his loved ones who never stopped searching for him. We appreciate our relationship with the public and their investment in helping to look for fellow citizens."

This is the second missing person case where national databases have been used by CPS investigators to link unidentified remains to a missing person.

In October, 2017, a cyclist discovered a body in a tent at a homeless encampment and the death was determined not to be suspicious. The medical examiner determined the man had been in the tent between five and six months and they were unable to formally identify him through traditional methods like fingerprinting.

DNA was used to link the remains to a man originally from eastern Canada.

CPS receives roughly 6,000 reports of missing persons each year and while most files are resolved soon after, some cases remain open for years.

Information about missing persons can be reported calling the CPS non-emergency line at 403-266-1234, or the Calgary Police Service Missing Persons Tip line at 403-428-2250. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.