Wednesday April 16, 2014

Body found in '75 ID'd as Kamloops man

Modern techniques lead to breakthrough after years of investigation

B.C. Coroners Service has identified remains found in Vancouver in 1975 as those of Sandy Gammie, a Kamloops youth reported missing in May of that year.

Gammie was 22 years old when he was last heard from in Vancouver on May 13, 1975, according to the Unsolved Murders website of Missing People Canada.

Remains recovered in Vancouver shortly after were transported to St. Paul's Hospital for forensic examination, but they could not be identified, even after extensive efforts by police and coroners.

Using modern forensic analysis in combination with multiple databases — and with assistance from missing person units in Vancouver and Kamloops — a positive identification was made.

There was no indication, either from the original investigation or the most recent analysis, that foul play was involved in Gammie's death.

His family has been notified of the development in the case. The coroner's office requested that media respect their privacy at a difficult time.

Gammie lived in Kamloops his entire life but often travelled to attend bridge tournaments. He also raised homing pigeons, according to a missing persons bulletin.

Bill Inkster, manager of the identification and disaster response unit, said it was a Vancouver police detective, making a "temporal link," who submitted a missing person's query to the coroners service. That triggered a process involving an "enhanced identification model," essentially a set of databases for cross-referencing.

"That's the star of this story, the actual process we use," Inkster said.

Dental records provided the link. Gammie's family had submitted a DNA sample, but the service didn't have to go as far as DNA analysis.

"That's what we do, is never give up on a case," he said. "With these multiple databases, we're solving cases regularly."

Inkster said he could not speak to the 1975 investigation and why it failed to link dental records.

There are still about 200 unsolved missing person cases in the province, he noted.

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