RCMP have confirmed they are looking for the remains of Nicole Hoar, 25, of Red Deer, Alta., on a two-hectare rural lot in the small lumber town of Isle Pierre, about 50 kilometres northwest of Prince George.
"The police are digging at Chug's old place because of what I told them," says
Mortimer, 46, was referring to a well on the Pinewood Road property previously owned by Leland Switzer, known to most in the tiny sawmill town of Isle Pierre simply as "Chug."
Switzer is currently in prison for shooting his brother Irwin dead in 2002, just two days after Hoar, who was hitchhiking, went missing from a gas station on the outskirts of Prince George.
Hoar is one of 18 women to have vanished on the route from Prince George to
Late in the day, RCMP announced they are looking for a man who may have information in connection with Hoar. The unknown male may have information that may assist in the investigation, they said.
In a release, police said the description of the man 2002 was as follows: Caucasian male, described to be in his mid-fifties, black shoulder length hair, very skinny face, sunken eyes, scruffy appearance, thin glasses, was a smoker and had a pronounced jagged scar on the left side of his neck.
Area residents said they aren't surprised the RCMP is digging up Switzer's former property — only surprised it's taken this long to happen. Some say they sense a number of families in the bundle of unsolved cases are about to get closure. "And I'll be able to sleep better at night," Mortimer said.
Mortimer and another Switzer neighbour, Wally
Anderson says he sniffed the diesel in Switzer's well years ago.
On Saturday, Anderson went back to the place where he believes he discovered a woman's remains in November 2008.
He alleged Switzer had bragged to Mortimer about killing his brother on the day it was done, and at the same time, suggested that Mortimer look in a side-road junk heap near Isle Pierre, under an appliance.
Anderson stood on the spot, where locals throw trash and butcher moose, and pointed to the spot where he walked through a light snow and turned over a fridge, finding a bag of bones. He says when he took the bones to police, they didn't take him seriously.
"I never drive by a deep freezer without checking," he said.
Cynthia and James Andal, who live on the property which backs onto the former Switzer property, say Switzer terrorized and threatened everyone in Isle Pierre, even scaring off a young couple on the next door lot with a shotgun.
"Chug was a nasty piece of work," Cynthia said. "He wasn't physically imposing; he just had a weird look. He was crazy."
James Andal says eight years ago, Switzer walked up to the family's laneway and started a conversation that almost ended in a fight. "He said, ‘Why did you phone the police on me?' I had to just walk away."
"We worried about our children," Cynthia added. "It's disturbing to think you could have been there when something was happening."
The Andals say stories about Switzer were common. Mortimer said he was married to a tough, pretty woman named Karen, and children were removed from their home by authorities.
Saturday, a 15-member search-and-rescue team and a geoscientist using ground-penetrating radar identified additional areas for excavation.
In the morning, police searched the four-metre dry well mentioned by Mortimer, and around noon they seized a crumpled yellow pickup truck for forensic examination, located up a steep 500-metre rock road at a dump on Crown land matching the description given by Mortimer.
At 2:30 p.m. local time, a team of dogs trained in locating human remains arrived on site from Alberta.
All of the missing or deceased women, except Hoar were First Nations women; 13 are confirmed homicides and five are still considered missing.
A man who works at the Isle Pierre sawmill said Switzer had done some welding there, and liked to "spout off stories."
"I heard a lot of crazy s—," the man, who did not want to be named, said. "After he went to jail, women stopped disappearing."