A retired Winnipeg police detective says the unexplained disappearance of Patrick Rosner in 1989 remained the most heart-breaking case of a long career.
Lou Spado, the inspector in charge of the missing persons unit 23 years ago, said investigators working the case could find no clues on what happened to Rosner.
"It was heartbreaking. We couldn't come up with any answers," Spado said. "You always want to give people an answer when someone goes missing like that. There was just nothing. We had absolutely no idea where he had gone."
As it turns out, the RCMP solved the puzzle of where Rosner had gone: He was killed and his body was found in a farmer's field in the Ashern area.
Rosner disappeared on June 23, 1989, following his shift at Bristol Aerospace. No one saw him after he cashed his paycheque.
Rosner's bones were discovered more than a year after he disappeared, but the bones were incorrectly identified as a woman's.
Spado said Winnipeg investigators ended up following false tips that led them to conclude he had run away, joining a carnival troupe in town at the time and travelling with them across the country and into the southern United States.
Spado said neither investigators nor anyone in Rosner's family could explain his disappearance and had no reason to believe he was dead.
"There was nothing to indicate foul play, because he wasn't that type of individual," Spado said, adding he believes Rosner was likely robbed after he cashed his paycheque, then killed and buried in the farmer's field shortly after.
The mystery of Rosner's disappearance was partially answered after the RCMP historical cases unit reopened the file of the unknown woman's bones in September 2011. Further DNA analysis proved the bones were those of a man.
The RCMP went back over the missing persons files from the time and narrowed their search to Patrick Rosner. The identity was confirmed in July, 23 years after his death, with a DNA match from a family member.
The RCMP would only say Rosner's death is suspicious and have appealed to the public for information on what happened to him.
"There were so many theories, guesses, to determine what happened to Patrick," Spado said.
Spado retired from the police service in 1995. Rosner's parents had Patrick declared legally dead in 1997.
Can you help?
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Patrick Lawrence Rosner is asked to contact the RCMP historical cases unit at 204-984-6447. Anonymous calls can be made to Manitoba Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or online at www.manitobacrimestoppers.com