Woman vanishes from fire tower

Woman vanishes from fire tower

30 August 2006

published by http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Edmonton — A 70-year-old woman who vanished last week from a forest-fire-spotting tower near Hinton, Alta., is believed to have fallen victim to foul play, RCMP said Wednesday.

Stephanie Stewart was reported missing Saturday morning from the tower about 25 kilometres northwest of Hinton.

RCMP Cpl. Al Fraser said that to protect the investigation, he couldn’t reveal exactly what may have made police think Ms. Stewart is a victim of foul play.

But he said they’ve ruled out an animal attack, or a medical condition that would have caused her to wander away from the forestry tower, where she’d spent each summer for the last several years.“This is a lady who has been with the tower for some 18 years,” Cpl. Fraser said.

“She’s very fit, very physical and nothing of this falls within her normal behaviour or character.”

He also revealed that some unusual items are missing from Ms. Stewart’s home, a log cabin next to the forestry tower.

Two pillows with blue pillow slips, a burgundy bedsheet and a Navajo patterned quilt are missing, along with Ms. Stewart’s gold watch, Cpl. Fraser said.

Police are also asking for public assistance in tracing any suspicious vehicles that may have been seen in the area between Aug. 25 and Saturday morning.

But it’s not unusual for people to visit the tower, which belongs to Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

“The tower itself is an area that does receive several visitors throughout the course of the fire-watch season,” Cpl. Fraser said.

An exhaustive search of the area wrapped up this week. More than 200 people who scoured seven square kilometres of thick bush on foot.

Five aircraft, including an RCMP helicopter equipped with infra-red technology, combed 7,500 square kilometres around the tower, Cpl. Fraser said.

Over a dozen people in off-road trucks, all terrain vehicles and boats also assisted in the search, but turned up no sign of the missing woman.


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