Two Canadian sisters who went missing more than 30 years ago have been found safe in the U.S. and reportedly told police officers they didn’t even know they were the subjects of a decades-long missing persons search.
Relatives of Anna and Kym Hakze say they last saw the sisters in Edmonton, Alberta, in the mid-1980s. The women didn’t see their mother in person after that, but last spoke with her around 1993. The older sibling, Anna, then 43, had already been estranged from the family. She and Kym, then 29, were “inseparable”—they disappeared together.
After a decade without contact, their mother officially filed a missing persons report in 2003.
The investigation, led by the Lethbridge Police, went cold after two decades of dead ends. Over the years, investigators followed numerous tips and leads, even using a family DNA sample during an investigation into a Vancouver serial killer, after a tipoff that the Hakze sisters had moved to British Columbia. They also submitted the women’s fingerprints to a U.S. missing persons database.
In October 2015, police tried making a public plea to the missing individuals in four cases, including Anna and Kym, over social media.
“We understand you may have walked away from your lives and it is not our intention to disrupt them. We only want to confirm that you are OK,” police wrote.
Finally, in January 2017, an annual file review provided the break detectives needed. Lethbridge Police learned that a Vancouver woman with the same name as an alias Anna Hakze had gone by had filed a theft report in 1999. When they contacted the woman, she was not Hakze, but she did provide a clue: an old newspaper clip advertising a book written by someone with the same name. She saved it because this was the only other person she’d ever heard of who shared her uncommon name.
The tip corroborated one provided by the public, which suggested the same author and Kym Hakze were sisters.
In February, police located the sisters in the U.S. Out of respect for the sisters’ privacy, they are not disclosing their location. U.S. police confirmed Kym Hakze’s real identity (she goes by a different name now) after visiting her at home, and Canadian authorities spoke with her over the phone. U.S. authorities also confirmed Anna’s location.
Kym told Lethbridge police she hadn’t realized she and her sister had been reported missing after they left their lives in Alberta, according to the Huffington Post.
Because of privacy laws, their brother, Ken Hakze, still doesn’t know where they are or how to contact them, but he has provided his information in hopes that they’ll reach out.
“I thought about them for all these years. I always hung onto a thread of hope because there was no confirmation either way that they were alive or not alive,” he said, according to CBC News.
He added that Anna may have left because of “some dreams [she wanted] to pursue,” in addition to family strife.
“We have a second chance here to reconnect as a family and that is just a joyous occasion,” he said.