New website profiles cases of missing persons

Mavis McLeod remembers one cloudy day in April when she saw a grey wool sock appear out of the murky depths of her septic tank before she quickly looked away.

She had been fishing a pump out of the tank with her then-husband, Charlie, when it appeared that a man’s leg was bobbing in the water.


"This sock just popped up and we knew it was trouble," the retired resident of Tofield, Alta. recalled. "We knew something was fishy, so we went and got the police."

The unidentified body, discovered in 1977, became known as "Septic Tank Sam," a man listed as one of the oldest unsolved homicides in Alberta history.

Police believe he was a labourer who was tortured by his killer before being shot and stuffed into the rural septic tank.

Despite releasing a composite sketch of the man, there have been few leads in the case — but it’s now been added to a comprehensive public database on missing persons and unidentified remains.

Launched yesterday,, features descriptions and photos of missing persons in the hopes of gathering more information.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes says there is tremendous public interest in missing persons files and the website could generate new tips.

"With any of these cases listed on this website, we’re one phone call away," he said. "Even one person with a piece of information, a small detail, could help to solve it."

About 35 cases are featured on the website today, but that number is expected to grow to a few hundred in the coming months.

who’s online

  • Cases are profiled if a person has been missing for more than 90 days and police determine that the public’s assistance may be beneficial.