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Missing person’s investigation turns into “suspicious” death
April Tuccaro’s son will only get to know his mother through stories told by her family and friends. The boy was 14 months old when Tuccaro went missing two years ago. On Sept. 1, Tuccaro’s remains were found in a field by horseback riders 12 km east of Leduc. Her death has been deemed suspicious. She was 20.
Tuccaro was reported missing Aug. 20, 2010, two days after she accepted a ride with an unknown man. Her destination was Edmonton. She was last seen in the early evening hours on Aug. 18 in Leduc county.
Tuccaro was staying at the Nisku Place Hotel with her son and a friend, after flying into Edmonton International Airport from Fort McMurray on Aug. 17 for a medical appointment.
Tuccaro’s remains were discovered only days after Project KARE released a telephone conversation between Tuccaro and an unidentified third party. In that conversation, the voice of the male driver of the vehicle she was in could be heard.
The driver remains a “person of interest” and not a suspect, said Staff Sgt. Shawn Lemay with K-Division of the RCMP.
“We had reached a point in our investigation where releasing this audio to the public would assist in furthering our search for Amber,” he said.
The contents of the recording are disturbing as Tuccaro repeatedly asks the driver if they are headed in the right direction and the driver repeatedly assures her they are.
The RCMP believed the driver instead went south and east of Nisku into rural Leduc county and not north into Edmonton as Tuccaro requested.
The RCMP has been tight-lipped as to the circumstances surrounding the audio recording, which they released to the public on Aug. 28. RCMP will not comment on how the audio was obtained, how long the RCMP had it, and who Tuccaro was having the conversation with.
Why the cell phone conversation was recorded has also not been disclosed.
“We can’t speak to that and those details could impact the investigation,” said Lemay.
“There is no connection between the latest discovery and the audio tape we released,” said Staff Sgt. Gerard MacNeil, unit commander at KARE.
KARE took over investigation from the Leduc RCMP in October 2011. KARE is an RCMP-led unit mandated to investigate Alberta cases of murdered and missing persons, whose vulnerable circumstances may have resulted in their disappearance.
MacNeil confirmed the RCMP had searched portions of the rural Leduc county at the time of Tuccaro’s disappearance, but would not confirm that the search included the area in which the remains were found.
MacNeil said the medical examiner would determine how long the remains had been in the field. Dental records were used to identify the remains as Tuccaro.
Within a 24-hour period following the release of the audio, MacNeil said 8,000 hits had been received on the websites containing the audio.
“We’re hopeful with the response we received and we remain optimistic,” he said.
April Eve Wiberg, with Stolen Sisters, is also hopeful that the overwhelming response will lead to the identification of the driver.
“We can’t stress enough for people to listen closely to the male voice of the person of interest on the tape because somebody will recognize that voice,” said Wiberg, who has been involved with the family since Tuccaro’s disappearance.
Because the Tuccaro family lives in northern Alberta, Wiberg says Stolen Sisters played an important role as advocates, spreading the word in the Leduc-Edmonton area about Tuccaro’s disappearance.
“Her family not living in Edmonton, we felt it was our duty to get (Tuccaro’s) story out there,” said Wiberg. “As a community, we really feel we’ve come out and supported the family and really raised awareness for this epidemic of missing and murdered women.”
Wiberg says that while KARE has been careful about what they have told the family about the newly-released tape and investigation, the unit has been responsive and supportive.
“We consider them an ally,” she said.
Stolen Sisters will be hosting the national Sisters in Spirit vigil on Oct. 6 in Edmonton. Vigils to mark murdered and missing girls and women are organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and held in early October throughout the country.
Anyone who can help identify the voice or who has further information related to the Tuccaro investigation is asked to call Project KARE toll free at 1-877-412-KARE (5273) or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Edmonton residents can also call KARE at 780-509-3356.
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