The Alberta RCMP will formally apologize to the family of Amber Tuccaro on Thursday for how the investigation into the Indigenous woman’s homicide was handled.
The 20-year-old Alberta murder victim’s killer(s) remains on the loose nearly nine years after she went missing and nearly seven years after her body was found.
The legal team for the family sent to Global News a link to 10 pages — with redactions — from a 120-page report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, which concluded “that the investigation into Ms. Tuccaro’s disappearance was deficient in that various members were either not properly trained or did not adhere to their training and that various members did not comply with policies, procedures and guidelines.”
Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP, will issue the public apology in Edmonton on behalf of the force. That will be followed by an unveiling of a new poster urging members of the public to contact Crime Stoppers with any information that may help solve Amber’s murder.
Tuccaro, who lived in Fort McMurray, flew to Edmonton with her young son and a female friend on Aug. 17, 2010, police have said. She got a room at a hotel in Nisku and spent the day in the community.
The next day, police said she left her hotel room to get a ride into Edmonton and got into an unknown man’s vehicle.
In 2017, Tuccaro’s brother, Paul Tuccaro, testified at the national inquiry looking into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. He said at the time of Tuccaro’s disappearance, police wouldn’t list his sister as a missing person until she had been gone for 24 hours.
“They’re like, ‘Oh yeah, maybe she’s out partying or something. She’ll come back. That’s why we’ll give it 24 hours,”‘ he said.
WATCH BELOW: (From Nov. 7, 2017) A national public inquiry is being held to find the root causes of violence against Indigenous women in Canada. The first day of testimony began in Edmonton Tuesday. Tom Vernon reports.
An investigation was later opened into her disappearance and in August 2012, the RCMP released a voice recording taken from a cellphone conversation between Tuccaro and an unknown male, whom police considered to be a person of interest in her disappearance.
Less than a week later, a group of horseback riders discovered a skull in a wooded area in a field on a rural property near Leduc.
READ MORE: Remains of Amber Alyssa Tuccaro located
Since as early as 2014, members of Tuccaro’s family have expressed concerns about the RCMP’s handling of the case.
Five years ago, a spokesperson for the RCMP said the law enforcement agency “recognizes initial elements of the investigation were mishandled” and that it had “learned a great deal from this file.”
“The RCMP missing persons unit, along with new policies and procedures, were created because of the Amber Tuccaro file and other factors learned over the course of other investigations,” Sgt. Josee Valiquette said at the time.
In 2017, Paul Tuccaro testified that his family got passed around from officer to officer and that his sister’s belongings sat in a hotel room for months before police took them and eventually threw them away.
LISTEN: Paul Tuccaro speaks to Ryan Jespersen on 630 CHED on June 6, 2019.
He also said he felt the RCMP downplayed the family’s concerns after his sister initially vanished and that he didn’t feel they kept in touch sufficiently with the family after her body was found.
The report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP found that a constable, who at one point removed Tuccaro’s missing person entry, “did not take reasonable steps to be satisfied that Ms. Tuccaro was safe” prior to doing so.
It also concluded that it was “unreasonable” for a constable to “delay reinstating Ms. Tuccaro’s status as missing” until Sept. 23, 2010.
The report also found that “the information released to the media to the effect that the RCMP had no reason to believe that Ms. Tuccaro was in any danger and that her general wherabouts were known, was inaccurate and had the effect of minimizing the significance of Ms. Tuccaro’s missing person case at that time.”
The review also agreed with Paul Tuccaro that it was “unreasonable” for RCMP to fail to seize Tuccaro’s suitcase from the motel in a “timely manner” and added that police failed to follow “policy or investigative practices for securing seized property.”
It also found that the “mishandling of Ms. Tuccaro’s suitcase and its contents resulted in members of the Leduc detachment accidentally destroying these items.”
While the report offered criticism of the handling of the Tuccaro case, it also said that “it must be noted that much work has been done by the RCMP since Ms. Tuccaro’s disappearance with respect to missing person investigations.”
It also found no evidence to suggest police chose to withhold information about a man, whose role in the investigation is unclear in the 10 pages of the report that were made public, from Tuccaro’s family.
It also concluded there is nothing to support the allegation of unconscious or conscious “racial bias of any members” during the course of the investigation.
The report also acknowledged that issues surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women were also being reviewed.
When asked for comment on the email sent out by the Tuccaro family’s legal team, the RCMP said it would not be speaking ahead of Thursday’s apology.
In Monday’s email, the Tuccaro family’s legal team said that on Thursday the family will once again make an appeal to the public for tips to help solve her murder and bring her killer(s) to justice.
— With files from Emily Mertz, Global News, and Bob Weber, The Canadian Press