UPDATE: Convicted murderer escapes from federal institution in Mission

MISSION, B.C. – A 41-year-old convict serving time for murdering a Vancouver man is now on the run after escaping from a British Columbia prison.

The Correctional Service of Canada says Norman Riel was reported missing from the Mission Institution, a minimum-security prison located in the Fraser Valley, at about 4 p.m. Sunday.

RCMP in Mission say Riel was last seen getting into a white Suburban waiting outside the prison, about 70 kilometres east of Vancouver.

He was serving a life sentence for the second-degree murder of Patrick Pugh.

Pugh was shot in the head during a home invasion at his east Vancouver penthouse in September 1994.

Riel was arrested following an undercover operation in Las Vegas in early 1995 and was convicted of the murder three years later.

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His record includes weapons charges, uttering threats and living off the avails of prostitution.

Escaped inmate Norman Gilbert Riel, photo: Mission RCMP
Escaped inmate Norman Gilbert Riel, photo: Mission RCMP. Mission RCMP

“We do not feel that he is an immediate threat to society at large,” says Sgt. Shaun Wright with Mission RCMP. “However, if approached, he could be dangerous given his previous history.”

The Correctional Service of Canada isn’t talking about the escape.

Parole board documents show that Riel applied for day parole just two months ago, but was denied because of “undue risk.”

“This is a cold-blooded killer with an extensive criminal record,” says NDP Justice Critic Mike Farnworth. “This person is there for a reason and they need to be kept behind the bars.”

Farnworth says the idea that Riel was able to escape with a car waiting outside for him is very concerning.

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“We need an investigation into why this happened,” he says. “That means looking at staffing levels and making sure the prison has the resources that it needs.”

A $2,000 reward is now being offered for any information leading to Riel’s arrest.

Wright says they are checking locations that Riel is known to frequent and previous associates.

He says the person in the white Suburban that picked up Riel could be charged with aiding and abetting the escape of a prisoner and would be wise to turn themselves in.

If you see Riel, do not approach him and call 9-1-1 immediately.

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