How do six people vanish without a trace?
How do six patients vanish without a trace?
How do six patients from the same psychiatric hospital, vanish without a trace?
Between 1966 and 2010, six patients of North Bay Psychiatric Hospital disappeared without a trace.
No bodies were ever recovered. And the cases remain open and active to this day.
North Bay Psychiatric Hospital
The North Bay Psychiatric Hospital opened in 1952.
It was located on Highway 11 in North Bay.
North Bay is a small city about three-and-a-half hours north of Toronto, Ontario in Canada.
It got its name because it sits on the north shore of Lake Nipissing.
The hospital had some locked units, and they had some unlocked units.
He just went home for the weekend
Fourteen years after the hospital opened, in 1966, a patient vanished without a trace.
That patient was Philippe Guérin.
Philippe was 27-years-old when he apparently just walked out of the hospital and vanished.
Sbefore he left, his younger brother, Omer Guérin, had just got engaged to Dora Guérin. She said that the hospital had told them that Philippe had gone home for the weekend, but they knew this wasn’t true, as they had just been at home, and he wasn’t there.
Eventually, the hospital wrote a letter to Widdifield Police Department — that was the local detachment — this was before they were annexed to what is now known as the North Bay Police Department.
When Philippe was 10, he was paralyzed by Polio. As a result, he walked with a limp.
A clergyman reported that he believed he picked up a hitchhiker that fit Philippe’s description. He apparently dropped this hitchhiker off at Hwys. 17 and 11, south of North Bay. And he claimed he was heading to Sacré-Coeur, Québec.
Philippe’s father doesn’t believe that person was Philippe. Police investigated that lead, and it led nowhere.
It’s been 55 years. He’d be about 82 now. But police are still determined to figure out what happened to him.
His parents died, never knowing what happened to him.
This is North Bay’s oldest unsolved missing persons case.
Walking on a highway in Sturgeon Falls
Norman Richard Welch, originally from St. Catharines, was vacationing in Sturgeon Falls with his mother.
On July 18, 1976, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) found him walking on a highway just outside Sturgeon Falls.
They were worried about his safety, so they took him to a local hospital. He was transferred to North Bay Psychiatric Hospital.
This upset Norman. He was agitated and demanded that he be released.
The next morning, they were escorting him in between some buildings, when he ran towards the woods and was never seen again.
When he disappeared, he was wearing dark blue and grey checkered pants, a black and white checkered shirt and slippers. He only had $14 on him.
Normand requires medication for epilepsy. He was known to have seizures and has difficulty recovering from a seizure on his own.
Normand was 31, when he went missing.
A short-term pass turns into a disappearance
Terry Anthony Zubko was born in Blind River.
He had been living with his parents in Sault Ste. Marie before he was admitted to North Bay Psychiatric Hospital in May of 1982.
A couple of months later, on July 21, Terry was given limited privileges, which allowed him to walk around the hospital grounds unsupervised for one hour.
When he didn’t return, hospital staff searched the grounds for him, but were unable to locate him.
That afternoon, they reported him missing to police.
Police also searched the area and were unable to locate Terry.
They received tips of sightings around North Bay. Police followed up on these tips, but they were never able to locate Terry.
Terry was only 18-years-old, at the time of his disappearance.
He was last seen wearing blue jeans, blue size 9 running shoes, a v-neck sweater with beige and brown stripes and a blue T-shirt.
Terry has a slight scar on the lower forehead, a scar on the left upper nostril, and a 12 to 14-inch scar on one of his forearms.
No foul play suspected
Thirty-four–year-old Russell Hoffert was also a patient at North Bay Psychiatric Hospital.
On Friday, April 7, 2000, around 10 p.m., Russel was reported missing to police by hospital staff.
They claim that he simply walked away from the hospital wearing only a blue long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans and running shoes.
It was -10 degrees Celsius outside. With the wind chill, it was estimated to feel like -20 degrees Celsius, and there was reportedly a lot of blowing drifting snow the night he went missing.
North Bay Police Patrol and Emergency Response Team Officers along with the OPP canine unit, used a helicopter, four-wheelers — all the resources they had, to try and locate Russell. They conducted a 3-day search, but he was never seen again.
What’s interesting in this case, is that police specifically say that they do not suspect foul play. Russell was a voluntary patient. He had admitted himself into the facility. However, there has never been any trace of him. They’ve never been able to locate him or confirm where he has been all this time.
Daughter continues to search for her mother
A little over a year after Russell walked into a cold, dark, snowy, winter night, never to be seen again, Dawn Eva Carisse, also disappeared.
Around 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2001, when Dawn was supposed to be having dinner, hospital staff noticed she was missing.
At the time she went missing, Dawn has been at North Bay Psychiatric Hospital for about 18 years.
She was living with short-term memory loss and was easily disoriented.
Two years before she disappeared, in 2001, she had apparently left the hospital grounds because she wanted to go see her children, who were living in the Kirkland Lake area at the time.
They found her hitchhiking along Hwy. 11, heading in the opposite direction of Kirkland Lake.
Apparently since 1997, Dawn had run away nine times. She was always found along Hwy. 11, and brought safely back.
But this time, Dawn wasn’t there.
Around the time of her disappearance, there had been talks about her children moving to Sudbury.
It’s believed that she was trying to go to Sudbury to visit her children.
Her children were actually still living in Kirkland Lake.
Despite following up on leads, going through the media and doing a thorough search — she was never located.
There are two known sightings of Dawn, however, police were never able to find her.
Dawn was a pleasant person. Police believe, based on her previous behaviour, she probably was trying to reunite with her children. Again, she may have believed they were in Sudbury, even though they were actually still in Kirkland Lake.
Dawn’s daughter, Sandra Charlton, has set up a Facebook group to raise awareness about Dawn’s case, and says she has also hired a private investigator to help find her mom.
Birthday celebration turns into missing persons case
Glen Wesley was a patient at the hospital, which at this point, is now known as the Northeast Mental Health Hospital.
At 1 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2010, he was given a short-term pass.
It was his 28th birthday.
Staff believed he was heading to downtown North Bay, but he never returned.
His family members were all interviewed, but they never located Glen.
There have unconfirmed sightings of him in the Cochrane, Timmins and New Liskeard areas. But police were never able to locate him to determine if the sightings were in fact Glen.
Hospital is torn down
The North Bay Psychiatric Hospital eventually became the Northeast Mental Health Hospital.
They eventually moved it to be near the North Bay and District Hospital, where they merged and are now known as the North Bay Regional Health Centre.
This particular site shut down in 2011.
The plan was to convert it into a regional jail, which included a 50-bed-secure-treatment unit and a 192-bed pod for remanded inmates and short-term sentenced inmates.
This was going to replace the North Bay Jail, as well as the nearby Monteith Correctional Facility near TImmins.
The project was scrapped after they realized it was going to cost $15-million to extended city and water services to the site.
It sat empty for two years before it was finally demolished in 2013.
No word on whether the property has been sold.
Updates on the cases
North Bay Police are working with OPP regarding a recent arrest, pertaining to one of the 14 missing persons cases in North Bay. But they haven’t released the details of who the suspect is, who the victim was, and the nature of the investigation.
Hopefully, those details will come out soon.
At the time that I began working on this story there were 14 active missing cases on the North Bay Police website.
There are now only 13.
I wish I had kept a copy of the list to see whose name is no longer on there. But all six victims from the North Bay Psychiatric Hospital, are still on that list.
I believe, but don’t know for sure, that the police comments were pertaining to one of the other eight victims.
Can you help police?
It’s really important for you to understand that these are cold cases.
That means these cases are still open.
The families of the victims are still seeking answers.
These investigations need your help.
Please, if you have any information that can help with any of these six investigations, please contact the North Bay Police Service at 1-705-495-5555 (select option 9 to speak to an officer)
If you want to remain anonymous, you can always call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit your tip online to nearnorthcrimestoppers.com.
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