After a community came together to search for a missing man, not only has the man been found, but he has also been charged.
On October 22, the RCMP initiated a missing person investigation into the disappearance of Martin Murdoch.
Due to a note recovered near the river, with suicidal overtones, it was feared Murdoch had gone down the Stuart River, according to RCMP.
“It lead us to believe that was a possibility, a strong possibility,” said Corporal Brown of the RCMP.
A massive land, air and ground search was initiated on that same day, and continued on October 23 involving a number of volunteers, search and rescue personnel, RCMP, and aircraft. The RCMP dive team also responded to the incident, providing an assessment, but deemed the river too dangerous under the circumstances.
According to the Fort St. James Search and Rescue (FSJSAR), they requested the help of the Nechako Valley Search and Rescue (NVSAR) from Vanderhoof as well.
The NVSAR group placed a downstream watch on the river, looking for any sign of the man or personal items.
An RCMP aircraft searched along the river, and personnel scoured the riverbanks and along the water itself.
On October 23, there were 164 searchers, 10 boats and the RCMP helicopter, according to the FSJSAR.
The search went as far down the river as Grassy Plains, and the NVSAR and Prince George Search and Rescue continued downstream from Grassy Plains to Sturgeon Point.
“Over 1,000 searcher hours were committed to this effort which would not have been possible without the participation of the volunteers,” said Alex Michaels, FSJSAR manager. “This speaks very highly of the sense of community and caring that exists in Fort St. James.”
By October 24, the search was called off and it was considered a recovery effort, believing Murdoch to probably be deceased, had he gone into the water.
Friends and relatives still continued to search, according to Michaels.
On October 24, information was received by RCMP regarding Murdoch which indicated he might actually be alive and well.
The RCMP investigated the reports and on Wednesday, October 26, Murdoch was arrested in Prince George and charged formally shortly after in Fort St. James with public mischief.
He has since been released and is set to appear in court on December 13 in Fort St. James.
The maximum sentence for public mischief is five years in prison.
“Aside from the pain and anguish this has caused his family and loved ones, it also should be noted that we do understand the risk the volunteers placed themselves in on the river searching for him and the investigation into this matter is still ongoing,” said Corporal Brown.
There is still a possibility more charges may be laid.