MCSC Article – Circa 2000

19 May

Thank you to a good friend who typed this out for us. Some text on the article was difficult to read and is shown in brackets.

Search for Brianne Wolgram Involves Many Investigative Resources

The Labour Day Weekend, undoubtedly one of the best times of the year. A time to take a rest from the toils of work, to spend time with family and friends enjoying the typically spectacular summer sun. Such was the case in Revelstoke BC this past Labour Day Weekend. A small, interior logging town, Revelstoke’s cracks exploded that weekend as hundreds converged there to enjoy the terrific weather, a huge baseball tournament and cheer the home town Revelstoke Grizzlies hockey team to victory. Memories that last a lifetime come from moments like this, but those memories are now tainted by a series of mysterious events that seem more appropriate in an episode of the X-Files than in reality.

Brianne Ruth Wolgram’s room hasn’t been touched since the evening she disappeared September 5, 1998. A smattering of magazine ads dot the pale blue walls above her bed as makeshift posters. A gold crucifix and chain adorn a framed picture of her pretty smiling face. Just 19 years old and recently graduated from high school, Brianne has many aspirations as any vibrant, young women would have. Plans of college, marriage and family topped her list of intentions in her senior class yearbook. Now those plans have been interrupted and the lives of those closest to Brianne have been put on hold.

“It’s a nightmare you wake up from the first thing every morning” says Brianne’s mother, Sheryl. “It’s the first thing you think about and the last thing you think about when you go to bed.”

Brianne’s father, Cliff, looks weary, sitting beside his wife on their couch. He knows a thing or two about hard work. He’s recently retired from Canadian Pacific Railway after many years of service. His two boys, Troy and Todd now work at Canadian Pacific. He isn’t prone to emotional displays.

“Yeah…,” he begins then chokes on his words, wanting to express his pain and frustration but all he can muster is “It’s been hard.”

The afternoon prior to Brianne’s disappearance was not a good one. She worked the 10:00am – 7:00pm shift at the Super Save Gas Station – the second of two jobs she held down. Co-workers later reported after Brianne went missing that she was out of sorts that day. She didn’t have her mind on her work, beginning tasks but not finishing them and incorrectly processing transactions. Something was wrong. At one point she broke down into tears and had to leave her post, retreating to a staff room in the back of the gas station. Her best friend, Kristi Cain, arrived at 2:00pm to begin her shift at the Super Save. Brianne had gathered herself together and finished the rest of her shift with Kristi. She arrived home and greeted her parents who were preparing to go out for an evening barbecue with friends. While they offered for Brianne to attend, Sheryl immediately noticed that her daughter looked exhausted. Brianne declined and said she was going to take it easy for the evening and by the time her parents had left the house, she had already lay down to rest.

Yet not even an hour later, Brianne showed up back at the Super Save and was talking with Kristi who was on shift until late that night. Kristi asked Brianne to go to the local Cold Beer Store and pick up some coolers for her, as it would be closed by the time she was off shift. The girls made plans that Brianne would pick Kristi up at the gas station at 11:00pm.

“She didn’t show up.” says Kristi, her face ash gray and her eyes rimmed red.

The whereabouts of Brianne Wolgram all hinge on the next series of events. Brianne was last seen by four local residents, three of whom knew Brianne personally, at the local 7-11 on Victoria Street between 11:15 and 11:30 pm. It was busy at the 7-11 with the Enderby hockey team bus having just pulled into the parking lot. All four witnesses reported that they saw Brianne in the company of three unidentified females, similar in age. All four girls piled into Brianne’s car and abruptly left the parking lot, cutting off the fourth witness who was in his car, as they turned south towards Airport Road which leads up a mountain to Echo Lake Road.

At 8:00am the following morning, a local hunter later reported encountering a girl matching Brianne’s description walking up Echo Lake Road at the 19km mark. She didn’t acknowledge him when he said hello to her. Thinking nothing unusual and with Brianne not being reported missing, the hunter did not stop her.

Brianne has not been seen ever since.

The Missing Children’s Society of Canada (MCSC) was contacted just three days after Brianne was reported missing by Sgt. Art Kleinsmith of the Revelstoke RCMP.

MCSC Lead Investigator, Rhonda Morgan, immediately responded by traveling from the head office in Calgary and meeting up with investigator Fred Malle(sp?), who came out from Vancouver. The day they arrived, September 10, a police helicopter search reported a vehicle spotted on Echo Lake Road at the 15km mark. Brianne’s car, a black 1989 Acura Integra with gold-enamel mag wheels that she bought with cash – her pride and joy – was found driven off the road, resting in a gully.

There were no skid marks and no signs of a struggle or injury. The driver’s side was ajar against an embankment and the rear view mirror was askew, consistent with someone shifting across the driver’s seat to the passenger seat. The passenger door was open and two cooler bottles had spilled out. Brianne’s keys were left in the ignition and her cash and ID were found in the glove compartment box untouched.

With the RCMP’s permission, Morgan and Malle began their investigation interviewing Brianne’s friends, family and co-workers as well as the four witnesses who saw Brianne at the 7-11. Through the vast network of international contacts built up at MCSC, Morgan suggested that the Canadian Amphibious Search Team (CAST) be called in to search the mountainous area. With RCMP permission, CAST arrived the next day with an eight man, two dog team to conduct the ground search. CAST spent two days on the mountain but unfortunately, the search turned up nothing. MCSC has brought in CAST on five (or two) separate occasions since Brianne disappeared, hitting the mountain in sections. Dive teams have searched over 25km of the Akolkolex River which runs through the area. The ground search and scent dogs have not brought investigators any closer to locating Brianne.

Meanwhile, MCSC investigators initiated a poster campaign exclusively in BC and Alberta and conducted a survey amongst the people who were in Revelstoke for the Long Weekend for the baseball tournament. Tips from as far as Calgary and Vancouver are being followed up by investigators assigned to the case.

The MCSC investigation has now turned almost entirely on identifying the three girls who were with Brianne at the 7-11. Morgan decided to do something the Society has never done before. Two witnesses were put under hypnosis by police officials, one in Vancouver, the other in Edmonton. Memories of the evening in question were brought back and enhanced. After the sessions, each witness worked with police sketch artists to produce composite drawings of two of the girls last seen with Brianne. These two witnesses, in different cities, both remembered the suspected girls with remarkable detail resulting in a strikingly similar composites.

MCSC then held a press conference asking for the media’s help to run the composite drawings in the hope that the girls would come forward or they could be identified. Numerous tips have flooded the MCSC toll-free hotline and investigators are still working on that information. The composite drawings will now be added to Brianne’s poster for distribution.

“It’s become very important to identify these three girls.” says Morgan. “We believe they have critical information that can further our investigation.”

The investigation continues into the disappearance of Brianne Wolgram and MCSC won’t stop searching until she is located. Come Spring, Morgan says they will bring CAST back to sweep the mountain again. So far, the ground searches have cost $10,000 alone. Morgan pegs the investigation costing upwards of $50,000 to date.

MCSC keeps in touch with Sheryl Wolgram twice a week on average. Sometime she calls more often if she’s having a hard week coping. The parent support is just another service MCSC provides. Sheryl lights a candle every night and puts it in a window facing the mountain where her daughter was last seen. The search continues.

Also see The Car

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