Ingrid Pfohl was just 11 years old in 1960 and remembers the sadness in her Roncesvalles home after her 13-year-old sister Helga Kaserer, a student at Fern Avenue public school, vanished on Dec. 29 of that year.
“I went skating to High Park and left my sister, which was normal, and when I got back from skating and mom and dad were home,” Pfohl recalled from her home in Kitchener.
“Mom made dinner and she wasn’t home for dinner, and that was very unusual. She was always home for dinner.”
Pfohl said her mother called her friends and when nobody knew where Helga was, her mother called police. She remembers being awakened in the middle of the night by officers who questioned her about her sister’s disappearance. For years, the Kaserer family held out hope that Helga would be found but she never turned up, much to the disbelief of the family.
“That was very, very hard for my mom and dad. Luckily they had a really good relationship. It brought them closer rather than further apart,” Pfohl said.
“They never fought. The only times I saw my dad cry was when mom was sick once and when Helga disappeared.”
Pfohl said she was surprised when she received a call from the Toronto police last month and was told they wanted to meet with her.
“I was so surprised when Const. Kelly called and said they were looking into her case after 59 years. Wow, that’s a long time,” she said.
On Monday, four missing children cases dating as far back as 1944 were released to the public in the hopes of finding out what happened to children like Helga.
Det. Mary Vruna, who is in charge of the Toronto Police missing persons unit that began operating on July 1, said if they can find out what happened to at least one of these children, it would be incredible.
“When we are looking for a missing person in general, there is always some sort of excitement and relief that the person has been located,” she said.
“Hopefully, we anticipate that we locate them alive and well and that they’re safe, but you never know.”
Vruna said Toronto police have approximately 68 cases of missing children under the age of 18 dating back to 1944. The oldest case involves a nine-year-old boy named Richard ‘Peewee’ Marlow, who was last seen on July 18, 1944, riding a bicycle in front of his family home on Beta Street in Etobicoke. The bicycle was later located in the evening in front of the home but Richard was nowhere to be seen.
Gayle Dykeman, Richard’s niece, told Global News it’s remarkable that the missing persons unit is still investigating her uncle’s case after all these years.
“I’m very thankful and really happy that there are people who care and are working on it,” she said.
Dykeman said her uncle Richard still has a brother who is alive and many nieces and nephews who still wonder what happened to him.
“The whole family is so appreciative of the missing persons unit. We believe someone took Richard but don’t know why,” she said.
Anyone who has information about Helga Kaserer or Richard ‘Peewee’ Marlow, or any other missing children, is asked to call police at 416-808-7411 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.