Police have released never-before-heard details on the investigation into a missing Calgary man, and say plans are in the works for another search of the mountainous terrain where his vehicle was found.
Marshal Iwaasa, 27, was last seen by his family in Lethbridge on Nov. 17, 2019. He told his family he was returning to Calgary but hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
A week later, his burned-out vehicle was discovered in the B.C. backcountry near Pemberton.
Police have conducted numerous searches but said they had to be suspended over the winter months as a result of the ongoing snowmelt.
On Monday, Lethbridge police said RCMP in Pemberton held a preliminary search last month, but nothing was found.
Lethbridge police say the investigation into Iwaasa’s disappearance continues, including plans to work with B.C. RCMP on an “exhaustive” search.
Iwaasa’s disappearance is suspicious but no foul play is suspected
In Monday’s news release, Lethbridge police said that from the onset of their investigation, Iwaasa’s disappearance has been considered suspicious, but there is no “credible, corroborated or compelling information to suggest foul play or that the occurrence is criminal in nature.”
Iwaasa was ‘experiencing stress in his life’
Police say their investigation has determined that before he went missing, Iwaasa had “hidden the fact that he had stopped attending post-secondary classes.”
“In examining Iwaasa’s personal affairs in the months leading up to his disappearance — including interviews with close friends as well as his financial, medical and social media activity — there is evidence to suggest he was experiencing stress in his life and had become withdrawn,” Lethbridge police said.
Iwaasa visited a storage locker before his disappearance
When he was last seen, Iwaasa told family he was going to visit his storage locker.
According to Lethbridge police, the storage locker key and logs show his code was used to enter the facility and then, about two hours later, leave the compound.
Police said by the time they began investigating Iwaasa’s disappearance, the CCTV footage from the storage facility was no longer available.
Iwaasa’s burned-out vehicle was found on Nov. 25
Iwaasa’s burned-out vehicle was found in a remote and mountainous area in B.C. in late November 2019.
Police say an examination of the vehicle and the area at the time offered “no evidence to suggest a criminal offence had been committed and no evidence to suggest that anyone other than Iwaasa was present when the vehicle was burned.
“It has not been conclusively determined if the vehicle was burned intentionally or as a result of an accident.”
Iwaasa’s clothing was found in forested B.C. area near his vehicle
Police say hikers discovered some of Iwaasa’s clothing in the forest in a trail leading away from his vehicle.
According to Lethbridge police, there is a “discrepancy” between photos taken by the hikers who located the scene and RCMP photos taken when officers arrived some time later.
“It is possible other backcountry users encountered the items prior to RCMP arrival,” police explained.
As such, police are asking anyone who may have happened across the scene and inadvertently disturbed the items to come forward.
Iwaasa’s vehicle remains where it was found
Iwaasa’s burned-out truck remains where it was located due to the “extremely challenging remote terrain where it was found,” police said.
“Due to the winter conditions when the vehicle was first located and now a rock slide blocking the access road, it is physically impossible to have a tow truck access and remove the truck at this time.”
Items recovered by police have been forensically processed
Police said Monday that all evidence in the investigation has been forensically processed, where possible, including all available electronics.
In addition, fingerprinting has been conducted with police saying “no usable prints” were found.
“All evidence is being retained for potential DNA testing,” police said. “The evidence cannot be DNA tested by the RCMP crime lab unless officers have reasonable grounds to believe a DNA-designated criminal offence has been committed. At this time, no such evidence or grounds exist.”
Police went on to explain that if the items were to be given to a private lab for DNA testing, they “may not be accepted by the RCMP lab for processing in future” and “any evidence recovered may not be admissible in court.”
Police say some investigative details cannot be shared to the public
Police said Monday that although the “vast majority” of the information learned throughout the investigation into Iwaasa’s disappearance has been shared with his family, not all can be shared publicly.
“The investigator’s report contains additional details and insights into the circumstances, scene and evidence which has not — and will not — be shared in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”
Police say all tips received have been investigated
Police say to date, all tips disclosed to officials have been investigated.
“There have been numerous reported sightings of Iwaasa in many jurisdictions throughout Canada — often at the same time. Every tip has been followed up,” a news release stated.
“Throughout the investigation officers have continued to monitor Iwaasa’s personal affairs including potential personal contacts as well as social media, phone, medical and financial activity.
“Since Iwaasa’s disappearance there have been no footprints of life.”
Lethbridge police are asking anyone with any additional information about Iwaasa’s disappearance to contact them, saying it will be investigated.