Yukon authorities have identified a skull found on a Whitehorse trail nearly nine years ago as that of a Port Coquitlam, B.C., man who was reported missing in 2007.
Yukon RCMP made the announcement in a press release Sept. 14, saying that the skull, located by a mountain biker along a trail near Long Lake Road on Oct. 23, 2009, belonged to Terry Fai Vong.
Authorities confirmed the skull was Vong’s last month.
According to the press release, Vong had been considered a missing person since 2007. He would have been 41 years old at the time his skull was found, but Yukon RCMP spokesperson Coralee Reid said that it was clear that the remains had been there for “quite some time.”
Authorities could not determine when exactly Vong died due to the condition of his remains, Yukon chief coroner Heather Jones told the News.
The RCMP press release says that his death “was not suspicious in nature.”
Reid said police will not be commenting on what Vong was doing in the Yukon.
The investigation into the skull — who it belonged to, and how it ended up on the trail — has been going on for years and encompassed several organizations, including the Yukon Coroner’s Service, Yukon RCMP, Yukon Search and Rescue, the Whitehorse RCMP detachment and Coquitlam RCMP.
After its discovery in 2009, the Yukon RCMP, including members of the Forensic Identification Section, Police Dog Service, Whitehorse RCMP detachment and Major Crimes Unit searched the area but did not locate any more remains. The skull was also the subject of DNA analysis, an autopsy and forensic anthropology work, the press release says, and in late 2009, was “confirmed to be those of a male of unknown age and ethnicity.”
The police investigation continued, and, over the years, “tips were followed up on, leads were pursued, and DNA comparisons were completed with a number of missing people in hopes of solving the case and providing answers to the family.”
The next major discovery came on Sept. 6, 2016, when two mountain bikers carrying their bikes up “a steep incline in a very rugged area” near Long Lake Road found “a small backpack, walking pole, decayed clothing and other items that appeared to have been there for a number of years.”
“This location was 220 metres from where the human remains had been found in 2009,” the release says. “This may not appear to be a far distance from where the skull was found, but the location was actually on the far side of a very steep hill, in extremely rugged terrain.”
Police conducted more searches of the area in September 2016 and May 2017 and found more items, including “currency, a flashlight, watch, sunglasses, clothing and other supplies.
No identification was found, however a personal digital assistant device — severely deteriorated from being exposed to the elements for many years — was among the items recovered,” the release says.
That device would prove to be the key in solving the case — in July 2018, an officer with the Whitehorse RCMP’s General Investigation Unit confirmed that it was purchased online by Vong in 2006.
“Thank you to everyone who played a part in this investigation — however big or small,” the release says. “It is by working together over the past nine years that we were able to provide long-awaited answers to the family and friends of Mr. Vong.”
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org