UPDATE: Historic Muskoka Missing Seniors Cold Case:
OPP are renewing calls for tips in a historic Muskoka Missing Seniors Case and have confirmed they are treating it as four homicides, stating unequivocally that police know for certain these four individuals are not alive.
At a Press Conference in Vaughan that just ended, OPP outlined how on December 1998, the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) started seeking more info on four unresolved homicide investigations in the Huntsville area.
Police believe 69-year-old Ralph Bernard Grant, 77-year-old Joan Dorothy Lawrence, 70-year-old John Leroy Crofts, and 89-year-old John James Semple were last seen alive when they resided at properties that included residences advertised as 'retirement homes.'
One property was located at 970 Yearley Road and some resided at a farm property at 132 North Lancelot Road west of Huntsville.
Police say each missing person had health challenges - some had mobility issues - during their time at the properties.
Their remains have never been located.
Police added these properties have since been sold and the current owners have no connection to this ongoing investigation.
OPP Interim Deputy Commissioner Paul Beesley said this morning that he hopes that if this information gets to the right people on the right platforms, answers could come.
"Our goal is simply to find out what happened to these four souls," he said.
OPP Detective Inspector Rob Matthews says there are specific areas he can't comment on to protect the integrity of the still-active investigation.
But, he said, the owners of the mentioned retirement homes, members of the Laan Family, have never cooperated with the police investigation.
"The OPP are treating this as a homicide investigation," he said. "We know the four individuals are not alive."
OPP also claim to know for sure that Joan Lawrence met her end on the property she had been living on and that she had lived in a van on the property prior to her death, but they didn't comment further on these aspects. (Above audio with Inspector Matthews)
Investigators also say they've used helicopters, canine cadaver dogs, searched the lake and undertaken extensive canvasses in their search for the missing.
Police want to hear from witnesses who were in the homes at the time or who worked at the residences in question.
Rewards for information have been posted since early 1998 for each victim and remain actively in place.
Anyone with new information can call a dedicated missing persons hotline toll-free at 1-877-934-6363 (1-877-9-FINDME) in Canada only or 1-705-330-4144 from outside Canada.
You can also submit information by e-mail at [email protected]