“It looked like … they may have had some assistance in getting away,” said Sgt. Lindsey Darling of the Rosthern RCMP.
Both men were serving multi-year sentences for manslaughter and are still at large.
Willow Cree Healing Lodge, which is just on the edge of Duck Lake and Beardy First Nation, reported that two of their inmates were missing to the Rosthern RCMP at approximately 7 p.m. Sunday.
Royce Virgil Bear, 31, is 191 cm (6’ 3”), and weighs is 126 Kg (278 lbs), with brown eyes and brown hair. He has tattoos on both of his hands and both of his arms.
He was charged with one count of manslaughter and a second count of assault with a weapon, which was a piece of wood.
He has been under sentence since March 24, 2011, and has served less than two years of his sentence of five years, 10 months.
Brandon Avery White, 23, is 173 cm (5’ 8”) and weighs 61 Kg (135 lbs), with brown eyes and black hair, and has tattoos on his right hand and right arm.
He has been under sentence since Oct. 22, 2009 and is serving a sentence of eight years for manslaughter and use of a firearm.
White has a publication ban on further details of his case.
Part of the challenge in finding the two men is due to an uncertainty about when exactly they escaped.
“We didn’t get much information until the following morning,” Darling said.
“Unfortunately there was a fairly large gap of time between the time that they were last seen and then the time when they were basically reported to us as missing,” Darling said.
“Initially they (the lodge) called and said it was sometime between noon and 7 p.m. … with them going missing sometime around 6:30 p.m. and then they gave us an updated report saying that they felt it was between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.,” Darling said.
The reason they believe it is possible the men were assisted, is because their tracks disappeared from the snow.
“What happened was some corrections officers found what they thought to be -- well they were footprints or heel impressions -- going through the snow and they led to the health clinic and then they couldn’t seem to find anything. So, whether they had some assistance or whether they got a ride from someone who unwittingly gave them a ride somewhere … but that’s where it seemed to end,” Darling said.
"whether they had some assistance or whether they got a ride from someone who unwittingly gave them a ride somewhere …" - Sgt. Lindsey Darling of Rosthern RCMP
While Bear and White are both convicted of manslaughter, they are not considered to be overly dangerous to public safety according to Jeff Campbell, regional communications manager for Correctional Service Canada (CSC).
“Because they were at a minimum security institution, Willow Creek Lodge is considered minimum security, they would have been … subject to an assessment. Part of that assessment is evaluating a person’s security level -- and of course -- with the priority of public safety as the key consideration. Because they were placed in a minimum-security institution they would be assessed as having a low risk to public safety,” Campbell said.
He said it is a detailed process.
“We take a very detailed look at each individual as to what they need to do to address the factors that led them to a life in crime, to committing crimes. So you would consider everything from their criminal history, their age, … do they have addictions, do they have mental health issues? So you look at the whole person, evaluate what led him or her to commit a crime and what do you need to do to address those factors so they can live a life without committing crimes.
The RCMP is currently following up on acquaintances, friends and family of the two men, but have not had any luck finding them.
If anyone has information about their whereabouts, they are asked to contact the police immediately.
Campbell said that CSC and Willow Cree Healing Lodge will be conducting an investigation into their escape and that they are working with the RCMP to locate them as quickly as possible.