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Arlene McLean: 22-year-old mystery solved

Death of missing Eastern Passage woman was not a homicide

3 min read
caption Arlene McLean was last seen on Sept. 8, 1999. This photo was taken from an RCMP video.

The RCMP closed a 22-year-old case on Wednesday, ruling that the death of Arlene McLean was not a homicide.

On Sept. 8, 1999, McLean left her residence in Eastern Passage in the evening and never returned. She was reported missing the next night and RCMP started an investigation that lasted more than two decades.

“The biggest challenge with this investigation was that Arlene McLean and her vehicle essentially vanished without a trace,” lead investigator Cpl. Troy Murray said Wednesday.

“And there were no witnesses . . . So as a result, there were very few leads to pursue to locate her vehicle.”

RCMP searched the area and interviewed Arlene’s family members and friends. They also followed up on reports of sightings and with partner agencies in Canada and the U.S.

RCMP found nothing until October 2020. RCMP divers located two vehicles underwater near Rainbow Haven Beach in Cow Bay while investigating another case. One of the vehicles was identified as that belonging to Arlene McLean.

“Given the condition of the location, the depth of the water and the current invisibility,” Murray said, “it was a very challenging and time-consuming process.”

The first vehicle the divers found was not Arlene’s. But “the timing and weather caught up to us,” said Sgt. Mark Bishop of the RCMP dive team in a news release. This forced further dives to be postponed until spring 2021.

In September 2021, the province’s medical examiner confirmed that remains found at the site were Arlene’s.

Based on “some key observations at the location,” Murray said, “we were able to form the belief that it was not criminal. No one else was involved in her death.”

Though the case is closed, RCMP say the cause of Arlene’s death remains unclear due to limited information.

“It was difficult for us to piece together the actual events when she left her residence until she arrived at the location where she was ultimately located,” Murray said.

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