RCMP slow to search for missing man

A body was found in Lake Laberge on Sunday. Recreational kayakers paddling the lake’s east shore found the partially submerged body of a…

A body was found in Lake Laberge on Sunday.

Recreational kayakers paddling the lake’s east shore found the partially submerged body of a Caucasian, adult male.

They provided GPS co-ordinates to police.

The body has not yet been identified, said an RCMP spokesperson on Tuesday.

Dental records and fingerprints have to be checked, she said.

But many assume it’s the body of Robbie King, a 52-year-old Whitehorse man who was reported missing June 20th.

“I mean, how many people are missing?” said King’s longtime friend Paul Warner.

Warner first met with police on June 22nd, after a minivan King was driving and his dog were found abandoned near Kishwoot Island.

“The RCMP said they’d have a boat in the water that day,” he said.

“But that wasn’t done.”

The police did “an informal search” on the 23rd when the RCMP River Quest team was out training, said the police spokesperson.

Search and rescue crews went out on the 25th, she added.

“During the river search, they looked in back eddies and snags.

“But the river is high and they still have plans to go back when the river reduces, because you can’t see the bottom when it’s high.”

Warner repeatedly asked the police to contact King’s family.

“They finally called them on Wednesday (the 27th),” he said.

The family chartered a plane and flew up Friday.

“And the RCMP didn’t really start moving until the family was here,” said Warner.

“A whole week passed.”

“First, we have to establish if indeed he is missing,” said the RCMP spokesperson.

“Circumstances dictate what happens and each investigation is different.”

Warner borrowed a boat and went out on the river with King’s family.

And on Canada Day, the family searched Kishwoot Island with the RCMP and its police dog, he said.

The police dog also searched the Kishwoot area on the 22nd and the 23rd, said the RCMP spokesperson.

“Every time I called, the police didn’t seem to know anything,” said Warner.

“It was shocking to me.”

When Warner’s wife Betty asked police about the search crew, the officer she was speaking with hung up.

More than a week after the disappearance, Warner was happy to see posters of King at the police station.

“But it turns out it was the family who made the posters,” he said.

Frustrated, Warner left the RCMP a message referring to its incompetence.

He didn’t hear back until King’s family arrived.

“Then that officer called three times, telling me all they were doing,” he said.

When she questioned RCMP about King, Warner’s wife was told not to expect police who’d just come on shift to know everything.

 “I got the feeling they thought he committed suicide and were just going to wait until the body showed up,” said Warner.

But Warner doesn’t think it was suicide.

“I think it was foul play,” he said.

Warner, who’s known King for 25 years, used to curl and fish with his friend.

The investigation into King’s disappearance is ongoing, said the RCMP spokesperson.

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