The investigation into locating the remains of alleged homicide victim Catherine Mary Brown at her former east Vancouver home concluded today with no findings.
Police took apart the basement at 4842 Rupert St. piece-by-piece with jackhammers. Enlisting the help of SFU’s department of archaeology and the forensic sciences section, students analyzed the debris for seven days and found no trace of remains.
“We excavated the entire cement floor,” said Const. Jana McGuinness, VPD media spokesperson.
The investigation began when Brown’s son, 38-year-old Robert Sturcz, came forward 34 years after his mother disappeared out of his and his five sibling’s lives in February of 1977. He told police that he has faint memories from his childhood of his late father murdering Brown and burying her corpse in the basement.
“We don’t believe he’s misleading us,” said McGuinness, who indicated the project was costly although no finals numbers have been tallied.
“The other option was to do nothing and never know.”
The police are now trying to determine if Sturcz’s beliefs were mistaken, and it is unknown why it took someone from the family this long to come forward about their mother’s disappearance. Sturcz, who has spent much of his life living on the streets of the Downtown Eastside battling addiction, is not under investigation however, said McGuiness.
VPD is now treating this as a missing persons case. If Brown were still alive, she would be 76 years old.
A troubled past
Robert’s father was Aladar Sturcz, who died in 1987 following a stroke according to a National Post article. It was shortly before he was to face criminal charges for sexually assaulting at least one of his three daughters.
Robert initially told the story of his mother’s alleged murder to Dave Dickson, a retired police officer who worked in the Downtown Eastside for many years and that he subsequently developed a relationship with, said McGuiness.
Robert claimed he tried telling police the story years ago, but no one believed him because of his history as a drug addict, she said.
Vancouver murder tally now two in 2011
In other announcements, VPD have recorded the second homicide of the year after a 56-year-old man was found dead in an apartment on 16 Hastings St. E.
A woman found the body after entering the suite on March 11. The man was last seen on March 9. An autopsy has confirmed that foul play was involved.
Police are investigating “very critical” surveillance footage captured on location, said McGuinness.
The man’s name will not be released until next of kin are contacted.
There were nine murders in Vancouver by this time in 2010, and 18 in 2009. Those inflated numbers were largely due to gang violence she said.
If anyone has information about either Catherine Mary Brown or the homicide, please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.