It should go without saying, but parents are crucial to a child’s upbringing. When children lose that essential part of the family unit, it can be traumatizing, and it often deeply affects them well into adulthood. That appeared to be the case when a mother named Lucy Ann Johnson mysteriously disappeared in 1961, leaving behind a husband and two confused young children.
After decades passed, Lucy’s daughter, Linda, gave up the notion of ever seeing her mother again—that is, until a stroke of luck gave her a clue as to what happened to her family. What followed was one of the most stunning missing persons cases in recent history…
Lucy Ann Johnson appeared to be a perfectly ordinary woman. An Alaskan native, she moved around quite a bit in her younger years before settling in a Canadian suburb in Surrey, British Columbia.
For several years, Lucy lived there with her husband, Marvin, and their two young children, Linda and Daniel. By all appearances, they were a happy, normal family—until one troubling day when that all changed.
In September 1961, when Lucy was just 25 years old, she disappeared without a trace. Stranger still, Marvin didn’t report his wife’s disappearance until almost four years later. Because of this, police had reason to approach the investigation as a homicide.
Everyone surrounding the home was questioned, especially Marvin, but leads didn’t materialize. He was never charged. There was no body. Lucy Johnson’s whereabouts remained unknown.
The intervening years were also filled with tragedy. Daniel drowned at the age of 20, and Marvin passed away in the 1990s. By 2013, Linda, then 59, felt she had no choice but to accept that her mother’s mystery would never be solved.
This all profoundly affected Linda. “I don’t remember much about my mother,” she explained to the Canadian Post. “When my father remarried, me and [Daniel] were not allowed to bring up [her] name. So all I was left with were two little pictures … and one bigger one. That is all I knew of my mother.”
Then, in June 2013, the cold case heated up. By a stroke of fate, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) happened to feature Lucy as part of a publicity initiative called “Missing of the Month,” which spotlighted missing persons cases dating back to the 1950s.
When she saw this, Linda was motivated to conduct her own investigation—which lead her to new pieces of information. One big clue was her parents’ marriage license, which informed her of Lucy’s former residency in Yukon…
“I am looking for my relatives,” she wrote in an advertisement in the Yukon Newsclassified section. “My grandparents’ names are Margaret and Andrew Carvell. My mother’s name is Lucy Ann Carvell. She was born October 14, 1935 in Skagway.”
Amazingly, the ad worked! “We received a phone call from a woman in the Yukon,” said RCMP spokesman Corporal Bert Paquet. “[A woman] called and claimed that she had seen the picture of the missing person in the free newspapers, and said the missing person we were looking for was actually her mother.”
It helped that Yukon News was published in Whitehorse, the capital of the territory, where an important stranger happened to work. “[Linda] actually connected with a [half] sister,” Corporal Paquet revealed. “The stars aligned, the timing was perfect.”
Not only that, but the half-sister, whose name was Rhonda Glenn, claimed that Lucy was still alive! Apparently, she had moved back to Alaska and started life anew with another family. After remarrying, she relocated with her new family and had four new children.
Facebook / Rhonda Glenn
Linda was shocked, of course, but Rhonda was also shaken. “I didn’t know … that my mother was a missing person,” she revealed. “[I] always wanted an older sister. I am just happy Linda knows her mother is alive now. I feel so badly for her, for what she missed.”
This also meant a lot to the RCMP, which was able to close a cold case. “We are extremely happy about the outcome of our investigation,” Corporal Paquet said in an interview. The story wasn’t over just yet, however…
BC Local News
The biggest question that remained was: why? “As I got older, I thought she must be dead, maybe even murdered,” Linda admitted. After Rhonda passed along Lucy’s phone number, Linda realized there was still one thing that needed to happen.
Linda called her mother. Even though she’d been abandoned, she was grateful to speak to the woman whom she hadn’t seen in decades. “I am not angry with her… I cried when we spoke for the first time,” said Linda. “I called her ‘Mom.’ I almost didn’t know what to say.” Soon after they hung up, Linda knew she had one last thing to do.
That September, Linda flew to Whitehorse, Yukon, to meet several of her long-lost relatives at the airport—including her half-sister Rhonda and, most importantly, her mother. Lucy immediately recognized her daughter.
“I don’t know how to describe it—it was, like, surreal because I could see my face in her face, and her eyes in my eyes,” Linda said, before adding one major difference: “I wouldn’t take off on any of my kids the way she had to.” So, why did Lucy leave so many years ago?
In the week that she spent with her family, Linda had to reckon with some harsh truths about her mother. “She told me that my dad was really abusive to her, and that he was running around with other women,” she revealed.
John Morstad / National Post
“She said that [Marvin] told her to get out, and she went back to get us, but my dad said, ‘You’re not taking the kids’ and that was the end of that.” It was an emotional reunion, full of tears. Still, Linda left feeling positively about it; she even considered moving to Yukon.
Though the motivation for Lucy’s disappearance was heartbreaking, at least she was reunited with her daughter. No matter what happens in life, there will always be that connection between a mother and her children—and few things are better than a reunion with a long-lost loved one!