For the first time in Saskatchewan, and for the entire RCMP, the identity of human remains located in Saskatchewan have been identified through the assistance of the National Missing Persons DNA Program. The NMPDP is operated by the RCMP and it is a partnership between the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains and the National DNA Data Bank. This is the 6th investigation where human remains have been identified with the assistance of the NMPDP.
On July 24, 2018, partial human remains were located near Maymont. They were located in a remote rural area, a few hundred meters inland from the North Saskatchewan River.
Biggar RCMP and the Saskatchewan RCMP Historical Case Unit (HCU) attended the scene. The remains were retrieved with assistance and equipment from the Biggar Fire Department. Over the course of three days, RCMP officers from the RCMP HCU, Forensic Identification Section, Biggar Detachment and an RCMP Forensic Anthropologist all worked together to examine the scene and the riverbanks. The search also involved the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone, to take photos of the area.
The remains were compared against numerous outstanding missing person cases across the province and Alberta, but no matches were made.
Investigators developed a DNA profile from the remains and worked with the RCMP’s National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR) to have a sample added to the National Missing Persons DNA Program. The DNA profile was then compared against DNA profiles from missing persons and their relatives from across the country by the National DNA Data Bank.
Through the program, the DNA profile was matched to that of Cheyenne Partridge. Cheyenne went missing from Edmonton, Alberta, in 2016.
The Saskatchewan RCMP HCU worked with the Edmonton Police Service and the Saskatchewan Coroners Service to confirm Cheyenne’s identity. The cause of Cheyenne’s death remains undetermined at this time and the Edmonton Police Service continues to investigate the circumstances of her death.
“Having a loved one go missing can be very traumatic for a family, and it was very important to investigators that we identified Cheyenne so that she may be brought home to her family and provide them with a sense of closure,” says Cpl. Kelly Bates, Saskatchewan RCMP Historical Case Unit. “Identifying Cheyenne was a collaborative effort between the RCMP, Saskatchewan Coroners Office, the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains and the National DNA Data Bank, and the Edmonton Police Service.”
The Saskatchewan RCMP HCU has been working actively with the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR) in order to submit their missing person and unidentified remains cases to the NMPDP.
“We applaud the efforts of the Saskatchewan RCMP Historical Case Unit and are pleased to have assisted them in the successful resolution of this case,” says C/Supt Marie-Claude Arsenault, Officer in Charge, Sensitive and Specialized Investigative Services. “This case illustrates the value of the National Missing Persons DNA Program by linking cases that span provinces and jurisdictions while providing closure to families. The more profiles the NMPDP receives, the greater our chances of making an identification and bringing more people home. If you have a missing loved one and would like to participate in the Program, please contact the investigator of your missing persons file for further information.”
At this point, Saskatchewan RCMP have concluded their involvement in the investigation. Saskatchewan RCMP will remain available to assist the Edmonton Police Service for any investigative support as required. Any information about the circumstances of Cheyenne’s death can be directed to the Edmonton Police Service.
“While the cause of Cheyenne’s death remains undetermined, the investigation remains open,” says Sergeant John Smith with the EPS Missing Persons Unit. “We will continue to explore and investigate any information we receive relating to the death of Cheyenne.”
The National Missing Persons DNA Program was established in 2018 to support missing persons and unidentified remains investigations. Through the Program, DNA profiles from missing persons and unidentified remains can be compared to the approximately 500,000 DNA profiles in the National DNA Data Bank.