All Sandy Barnet has left now are pictures and painful memories as she marks the 45-year anniversary of her sister’s disappearance.
“I just only hope she’s still alive and doesn’t know how to come back,” said Barnet.
Barnet last saw her sister, Helen Claire Frost, in 1970 when the two shared an apartment in Prince George.
For Helen, those were difficult days. In May of that year, the teenager had given birth to a baby girl, but they wouldn’t be together long.
“She had a welfare worker and they went to the hospital and talked her into giving the baby up for adoption,” said Sandy, adding that her sister was heartbroken. Five months after giving up her daughter, 17-year-old Helen left her apartment to go for a walk, but never returned.
“About 8:20, October 13, 1970…and she just didn’t come back,” said Sandy.
Sandy said she and her sister would hitchhike along Highway 97, a roadway associated with the Highway of Tears case. Sandy said they were uninterested in waiting for the bus. It was a secret they shared only with each other.
She didn’t believe local police launched an investigation at the time of Helen’s disappearance, so Sandy and a friend looked for her on their own.
“This guy and I did go searching and he found out she had hitchhiked from the Husky in Prince George, heading south. A truck driver told him that,” she said.
That tip has never been verified by police, but Sandy said there’s no evidence to suggest her sister took her own life. While her sister was not known to be involved with drugs or the sex trade, Sandy said Helen’s name should still be added to the list of women who vanished off Highway 97.
“It can’t be ruled out. It cannot be ruled out because she hitchhiked and went the same routes that some of the girls there did.”
Anne Gavin, a friend of Barnet’s and an advocate for missing persons in B.C., thinks someone out there knows something about the case.
“Somebody always knows. You don’t just vanish without a trace. I know there was a TV show in the States, ‘Without A Trace’, but there’s always somebody that knows,” said Gavin.
Barnet has created a Facebook page to help promote the ongoing search for her sister and the niece she’s never met.