The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s missing person’s co-ordinator has received two leads on the O’Brien case since taking over the job in late April.
“Nothing transpired from these tips, but they were good, plausible tips that were worth following up on,” Const. Danny Doiron says.
The officer is familiar with the case. He’s been with the RNC for 14 years and the O’Brien file was among the ones he read when he started in his current position.
He says a lot of resources have been put into the case over the years.
In the first couple of years after the three O’Brien boys disappeared in 1996, stories in The Telegram archives indicate hundreds of tips poured in.
While the activity is nowhere near that now, it remains an active file.
Doiron says anyone with details on the case, or any missing persons file, should share what they know.
“There’s families out there that want closure … so it’s important that they forward any information that they have,” he says.
Christy Dzikowicz, the director of missingkids.ca, concurs. She says it’s never too late and any information is valuable.
“Don’t feel silly if you think it’s just a small tidbit. You saw someone wherever. You saw a car 15 years ago. Any piece of information. The public doesn’t know how much information the police may have already that can connect a few dots.”
Meanwhile, Doiron says the number of missing person’s files has been steady at between 700 and 750 in recent years.
The most recent figures he has are for 2008-09, when 743 missing persons were reported. He says 2010 and 2011 don’t appear to be much different.
The vast majority of the ’08-’09 cases were on the Northeast Avalon, with 459 males and 284 females.
Five hundred and twenty of the children were 17 years of age and younger.
Doiron notes that many involved open custody situations like group homes.
He says some of the same children could have run away numerous times.
“You’ve got to take them seriously though, absolutely,” he said.
Doiron adds there are a number of other cold case missing person files besides the O’Brien case. Those include Daniel Pickett, Sharon Drover, Henrietta Mille and Pamela Asprey.
“We do as much as we can with those, based on the information that comes in,” he says.
Doiron also tried to dispel a common misconception about reporting a missing person — someone doesn’t have to be gone 24 hours.
“If there’s something out of the norm, report it,” he says.