Freestone Mystery: CEC2010-001

”Yet, this type of ‘weirdness’ is the nature of such mystery.”
story ©2010 Les Booth; painting, Streamside, ©2010 Diane Michelin

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Freestone Mystery

Penticton Herald, ePenticton Herald News
Josh Mavenhome Penticton Herald / Saturday Edition

Many unsolved mysteries exist around the world, but the 1998 unexplained disappearance of a Victoria, BC woman still has people down in Keremos shaking their heads.

This clip, from the article, written by my uncle Thomas Mavenhome, about the 1998 cold case, fills in some background for those unfamiliar with the 11 year old mystery.

‘Four weeks ago, Provincial Conservation Officer, Sarah Tumewatter, and BC Fisheries Biologist, Jon McCormick, stumbled upon a mystery on Bumblechoock Creek, north of Keremos, BC. The events of 23 September, 1998, still remain no closer to being resolved than they did on that fall Sunday afternoon, 4 weeks ago.

“We have no clues, other than the personal items and still alive brook trout, found, yesterday, on the banks of Bumblechook Creek. We are quite baffled. We simply have no idea where Jane Manson is today.”, said officer Tumewatter in an interview on Friday; 23 October, 1998.

Jan Manson, well known Victoria resident, is an attractive 32 year old, red-haired, athlete, fly-fishing aficionado, respected outdoor artist and conservation advocate. Ms. Manson, single, went missing Sunday 23 September. The answers to her whereabouts are still a complete mystery.

Tumewatter and McCormick were conducting a 10-year stream assessment of Bumblechook Creek, along a remote stretch of water in the upper reaches of the rough country, north of Keremos, BC, when they came upon a very strange scene.

Tumewatter and McCormick rounded a bend on the creek to find, neatly laid out on the rocks beside the stream, a fly-rod and reel, a landing net and a very much alive, brook trout.

Officer Tumwatter said both she and McCormick spent over 2 hours combing the area, after placing a call to report the strange findings to the Penticton BCCO office. Within an hour after the phone call – they were joined by other BCCO personnel. BCCO carried on the search, around-the-clock, for the next 14 days.

By the time the official search was canceled, nothing had turned up. No prints. No clothing. No personal items. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

There were no shoe prints anywhere. None. No prints of any kind.  Not along the creek; into the creek bed; nor back up into the woods.  McCormick said it was as if Manson was,”… just transported away. Gone. Without a trace”. ‘

Ms. Manson’s 1998 2-dr GMC Jimmy, bearing the custom trademark of a – Screaming Brook Trout – located on both lower door panels and rear tailgate, was nowhere to be found in the vicinity.  Despite extensive searches all across Canada, Alaska, the lower 48 United States and even into Mexico, no trace has been found.

Bumblchook Creek’, is said to have more than the occasional black bear and a rare appearance of cougars.  But neither animal is suspected to be involved in Manson’s disappearance.

BC Conservation Officers identified the owner of the fly-rod, reel and landing net and therefore the missing person – as Ms. Manson – from the name, email address and drivers license number, marked on each item.

Many speculations have arisen over the years as to the whereabouts of Ms. Manson.

Some say Manson fell into Bumblechook Creek’s icy waters, drowned and was swept downstream, over the 14 meter waterfall, downstream roughly 1/2 kilometer. But the water was thoroughly checked; above and below the falls. Nothing turned up. Most feel this was most unlikely.

Others say, she fell, suffered a concussion and amnesia then either staggered out of the area or was possibly lost and died of exposure.  But that too, seems unlikely.  The area was thoroughly searched; thousands of motorists and people in the area were canvased;  nothing; not so much as a ‘maybe’, was uncovered.

One popular theory is that Manson, a very pretty 32 year old, was abducted and kidnapped by the fabled remnant of the Spanish conquistadors, said to be living in the wilderness around Bumblechook Creek.  No one has officially documented the veracity of the claims as to whether these mythical residents  really exist. But wild and fantastical stories abound. With many claiming to have had contact with them; and some even claiming to be descendants.

The list of speculations continue, and continue to grow.  Many are fantastical enough to even make sense. But not seriously, unless you’re under the influence of mind altering chemicals first.

Yet, this type of ‘weirdness’ is the nature of such mystery.

Maybe it’s to be as Tumewatter said in an interview on the 5th anniversary of the unsolved missing person’s file.  “Some things just remain a mystery. Until something else shows up, that’s how we’ll have to look at this case.”

Yes, maybe so.

For now we only have the image of the fly-rod, reel, landing net and a live brook trout to help us conjure up the actual events that have led to this mystery.

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