Two Lethbridge sisters missing for more than 30 years have now been found to be alive and living in the U.S.
Lethbridge Police Service say fingerprint identification helped bring an end to this historic case.
Sisters Anna and Kym Hakze were reported missing in 2003 by their mother, who had not heard from her daughters in more than a decade. Anna and Kym, who were 43 and 29 at the time, were last seen in Edmonton in the mid-1980s. Police say at the time Anna was estranged from her family and struggling financially but the bond between the sisters was strong and they disappeared together.
That was the last time they had any contact with relatives.
Today, Anna is 67 and Kym is 54.
“After so many years it’s very unusual for a case like this to end with good news,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Woods, who oversees the Criminal Investigation Section, in a release. “Usually we find ourselves telling a family their loved one has met with some sort of tragedy or more often than not in a case of this age, never being able to provide any answers.”
“We hope that knowing Anna and Kym are out there provides some sense of closure for this family and we are very pleased to finally have been able to do that.”
Police are not saying where Anna and Kym are now living.
Over the past decades, police have chased leads and many dead ends, including the submission of DNA during the Robert Pickton investigation in B.C. There was some suggestion the two sisters had moved to Vancouver and there was concern they may have been victims in the Pickton case.
Lethbridge Police also put out a new release in 2005 of historical missing persons cases and that led to some new tips but none of them panned out.
Then, this January, during an annual file review, it was noted a theft report had been filed by the Vancouver Police in 1999 by a woman with the same name Anna was known to use. Investigators followed the lead and while it turned out the woman was not Anna Hakze, she did provide police with information that corroborated a Crime Stoppers tip in 2012.
The woman in Vancouver had saved a newspaper clipping from 1984 that advertised a book written by another woman with the same unusual name. Police say the Vancouver woman had never known anyone else to share her name and found the ad humorous, so she held on to it.
In 2012 police received and investigated a Crime Stoppers tip that identified two women – one being the author of several books and the other with an alias known to have been used by Kym Hakze – as the possible missing sisters. Police attempted to contact the author and her publisher at the time but neither responded and they could not find the other woman.
Police did find records in the name of the author from the 1984 Vancouver newspaper clipping and a number of documents related to that name were found and one of them listed a sister as the next of kin.
Fingerprint comparison subsequently confirmed the two women are in fact Kym and Anna Hakze.
In late February, U.S. police went to Kym’s home, who no longer goes by that name, and confirmed her true identity.
Kym says they were unaware they had been reported missing when they walked away from their lives in the mid-1980s.
Lethbridge Police have not spoken directly to Anna but say Kym has had contact with her.
Kym says she wishes to remain private and any further details about this case will not be provided at this time.