An anonymous letter about a 10-year-old Chilliwack girl who went missing more than 28 years ago has generated some public tips and calls – but the author of the letter has not come forward yet.
“We’re still gathering some tips and we’re following up on them,” RCMP Sgt. Graham de la Gorgendiere said Wednesday.
“We still haven’t advanced the investigation significantly yet,” he added, “but we’re still hopeful something will happen.”
Jo-Anne Pedersen was a friendly, outgoing, 10-year-old when she simply vanished one night while waiting outside a convenience store in Vedder Crossing for a ride home.
Nearly 29 years ago.
But Chilliwack RCMP refuse to give up on the case, believing that somewhere out there somebody knows something that could solve the mystery and end a mother’s grief.
A tall white man with “messy or wavy-style” hair was the last person seen talking to Jo-Anne at the phone booth where she made the call home at about 8:20 p.m. on Feb. 19, 1983.
Suspicion initially fell on this man, but police investigators came to believe the man was actually trying to help the little girl.
So, three years ago, the RCMP prepared a re-enactment of the disappearance, hoping the mystery man would come forward with information that would lead to Jo-Anne’s whereabouts.
But nothing came of that effort, despite the pleas of Pedersen’s grieving mother Angela.
“I have suffered so much through the years,” she said in a statement video-taped at the time.
Now a letter has come to the Chilliwack RCMP, hand-written and unsigned, but with “significant” information that leads police to believe it’s not a hoax and the author may know more.
“That’s why we’re pleading … for this person to come forward,” Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth said.
Pedersen was walking home with her sister and cousin when they got into an argument, and the older girls ran home ahead of her.
Finding the door locked when she got home, Pedersen went to the nearby Penny Pincher store at Watson Road and Vedder Road to call her mother.
The store clerk let Pedersen use the store phone, but she didn’t know the telephone number where her mother was, so she went outside to call the operator on a pay phone.
She talked to her stepfather, but when he and her mother arrived at the Penny Pincher about half an hour later, Jo-Anne was nowhere to be seen.
She hasn’t been seen since.
“We don’t know what prompted this (letter),” Hollingsworth said. “We’re just interested in finding out more.”
Anyone with information about the investigation or the letter is asked to call Const. Justine Hayward at the Chilliwack RCMP’s serious crime unit at 604-792-4611 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.