Ten Years Later: Who Killed Amber Tuccaro?

Amber Tuccaro — Source: Northern Plains Freelancer

I think we can all agree that video and audio recordings significantly increase the creepiness factor of a case. The disappearance of Canadian woman Amber Tuccaro is disconcerting, thanks to a short snippet of audio in which Amber can be heard asking the man who was driving her where they were headed.

Amber knew the man wasn’t taking her where she wanted to go. You could hear the desperation and growing fear in her voice.

Ten years later, this case hasn’t been solved, in large part because the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) didn’t investigate when they should have.

This story will infuriate you because of the police’s complete indifference to Amber’s disappearance.

The Struggle for Independence

Amber and her mother, Vivian “Tootsie” Tuccaro — Source: CBC News

On January 3, 1990, Amber Alyssa Tuccaro was born in northern Alberta, Canada. [1] Andrew and Vivian “Tootsie” Tuccaro adopted Amber when she was just a baby. The couple already had four sons and were thrilled to have a baby girl in the family.

The Tuccaros were members of the Mikisew Cree First Nation. Andrew and Vivan started building their family in Fort Chipewyan and later moved to Fort McMurray.

In 2010, Amber was the 20-year-old mother of a 14-month-old son, Jacob. The little boy was Amber’s world and she took her role as a mother seriously.

Amber and her son, Jacob — Source: CRI Unsolved Crimes

Amber wanted desperately to find a place for just her and her son, but it wasn’t easy to find housing in Fort McMurray. On three separate occasions, Amber stayed at Unity House, an organization that assists people in finding the resources they need to live independently. None of the moves were easy for Amber, however, and she always asked her mother to pick her and Jacob up and bring them home.

The Day the Tuccaros’ World Changed

August 17, 2010, was an exciting day for Amber Tuccaro. In need of a break from her day-to-day struggles, Amber hopped on a flight to Edmonton, Alberta, with little Jacob and a new friend named Evangeline to enjoy a “girls weekend.” [1] [2]

The two women had only met weeks earlier while they were staying at Unity House.

This is the account that Amber’s mother gave of her daughter’s last hours on the Investigation Discovery (ID) show, “Still A Mystery.”

Source: Amazon.com

The threesome booked a room at the Nisku Place Motel in Nisku, Alberta, just outside the city limits of Edmonton. [8] It is a semi-remote area where many truckers and oil workers pass through every day.

The next morning, Amber and her friend went into Edmonton to do a bit of shopping before going back to the hotel for the night. But when they arrived back at their motel, Amber told Evangeline that she wanted to go back into Edmonton that evening, though no one is sure why.

Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada — Source: The Esposito Team

At about 7:30 p.m. on August 18, Evangeline agreed to watch Jacob so that Amber could go back to the city. Amber walked out to the main road to hitch a ride back to Edmonton.

For many indigenous people, hitchhiking is not only a way of life, it is an absolute necessity. While some aboriginals prefer the method of travel, for many, it is the only way to get from one place to another because they live in remote areas and don’t have the resources to afford a car.

Amber and her mom spoke to each other numerous times that day via phone and text, but at some point, Amber stopped responding. [8]Tootsie became increasingly concerned and phoned Evangeline to find out where Amber was. Evangeline told her that Amber and Jacob were both at the motel, sleeping. Tootsie asked Evangeline to have her daughter contact her as soon as she woke up.

Vivian “Tootsie” Tuccaro — Source: Canoe.com

On the morning of August 19, Tootsie’s concern turned into panic when she received a text from Evangeline saying, simply, “Jacob’s grandma?” Tootsie immediately knew something was wrong.

Amber and Tootsie shared a close relationship. They talked constantly, and it was incredibly uncharacteristic for Amber to suddenly stop responding to calls and texts.

When Tootsie phoned Evangeline, she was informed that Amber had left in the middle of the night and left Jacob behind — something that Tootsie says Amber would never have done.

Tootsie contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to report her daughter missing, which proved to be an effort in futility. The police didn’t take Tootsie’s concerns seriously and assumed that Amber was out partying. The RCMP dismissively told Tootie not to sweat it, that she would show up eventually.

Source: Edmonton CTV News

Tootsie was distraught. She had warned her daughter repeatedly not to hitchhike, but as a naive 21-year-old, Amber felt her mother was being paranoid. But Tootsie wasn’t just being an overly concerned parent. Her fears were very much justified.

There are hundreds of missing and murdered aboriginal girls and women in Canada. [3]

Source: Western Gazette

According to a report by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), there were about 582 cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in 2015. Of those cases:

  • 67% were the result of murder or negligence;
  • 20% involved missing women or girls;
  • 4% were suspicious deaths — deaths regarded as natural or accidental by police, but family and community members considered them suspicious;
  • 9% of the cases were of an unknown origin — the women and girls were either murdered, missing, or died under suspicious circumstances.

In Canada, the number of murdered and missing Aboriginal women is disproportionately high. NWAC says that between 2000 and 2008, Aboriginal women and girls represented approximately 10% of all female homicides in the country. The statistic is shocking when you consider that Aboriginal women make up just 3% of the female population.

Highway 16, better known in Canada as the “Highway of Tears,” is about a 53-minute drive (49 miles) north of Nisku. Dozens of Canadian women and girls have disappeared or been murdered along or near the highway. [9] Most of them are indigenous. The highway earned its nickname because of the large number of women and girls who have disappeared or been found dead along a particular stretch of the road.

Source: The New York Times

A Disturbing Lack of Concern by Law Enforcement

The days ticked by with no contact from Amber, yet, despite the pleas of her family, the RCMP simply would not investigate the disappearance.

On August 28, 2010, just ten days after Amber Tuccaro was reported missing, an RCMP constable recommended the case be closed and Amber be removed from the national missing persons database after receiving a report of a sighting. [1]

That constable made no attempts to verify the accuracy of any of the report, however, and 10 days later, a media relations officer with the Leduc RCMP told a local newspaper there was no reason to believe that Amber was in any danger. Like the constable, the media relations officer, too, claimed that Amber was in Edmonton.

Source: APTN National News

Tootsie was eventually able to get Amber re-added to the list after a month of fighting the RCMP.

When Amber vanished, she left most of her belongings behind at the motel. Rather than examine them for clues and return them to her family, the Alberta RCMP, in yet another stunning failure, removed them and threw them in a dumpster.

The Bone-Chilling Phone Call

In 2012, the RCMP had to reverse course and admit that Amber Tuccaro was endangered and had not run away to party or to start a new life. [4]

On August 28, the police released a brief cell phone conversation Amber had with her brother while in the company of the driver who plucked her off the road.

Source: Red Power Media

The call was 17 minutes in length, but only 61 seconds of audio was released.

After being picked up, Amber sensed that she was in danger, so she phoned her brother, who was incarcerated at the time. The phone call was recorded, as it is standard for jails and prisons to do so. [5] During the conversation, Amber is heard repeatedly asking the driver specifics about their location.

Over and over, a male voice is heard reassuring Amber that they were going into the city. Specifically, he told her they were headed to 50th Street and he was just taking the back roads to get there. Amber didn’t believe him, and as the call progressed, so, too, did her fear.

The male driver says something about a gravel road just as the call ends abruptly.

The RCMP had the audio recording in their possession before they reached out to the public for help, which understandably drew the ire of Amber’s family.

The police believe that the man drove Amber southeast along rural country roads instead of north into the city. [2]

Hopes Dashed

On September 1, 2012, just days after the minute-long audio clip was released, Amber’s skeletal remains were discovered on a farmer’s field in Leduc County by horseback riders. The area was just south of the Nisku Place Motel.

Source: APTN National News

The amount of time it would have taken to drive Amber from her hotel to the area where her body was found was 17 minutes — the exact length of the full phone call Amber made to her brother on the night she vanished. It is believed that Amber was killed that night.

According to Amber’s brother, Paul Tuccaro, the RCMP did little to keep in contact with the family or keep them informed about the direction of the investigation after his sister’s remains were found.

The RCMP and its Abysmal Record of Failing Indigenous Women and Girls

Most cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal people in Canada involve young women and girls, with 55% of cases involving women and girls under the age of 31, and 17% of cases involving women and girls age 18 or younger. Only 8% of cases involve women over the age of 45. [3]

Furthermore, Aboriginal women are almost three times as likely to be murdered by a stranger, compared to non-Aboriginal women.

Sadder still is the fact that, as of 2015, a mind-boggling 53% of murder cases in a database maintained by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) remained unsolved.

In many cases, the RCMP has been downright abusive to indigenous women. [6] According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the organization documented RCMP violations of the rights of indigenous women in ten towns across the north. These included young girls being pepper-sprayed; a 12-year-old girl being attacked by a police dog; an officer repeatedly punching a 17-year-old after being called to her; women strip-searched by male officers; and women injured due to excessive force while being arrested.

In one case from 2012, a woman was driven outside of town by police officers who raped her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

Source: Statistics Canada
Source: Statistics Canada

Understandably, this has created a very tense relationship between the indigenous community and the RCMP. Indigenous women and girls say they have very little faith that the same police officers who so frequently abuse them can be tasked with effectively protecting them.

As one community service member told HRW:

Why the hatred?

One word:

Source: Intersectional Analyst

The RCMP began as the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1873. [7] Its agenda was to advance the newly created Dominion of Canada and halt any opposition to its vision of a successful colonial state, according to

The NWMP, and later the RCMP, forced First Nations populations onto reserves and made sure they didn’t venture beyond those boundaries without permission.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because America did much the same thing.

Between 1885 and the 1940s, the “pass system” allowed an “Indian agent” to determine whether a First Nations person could leave the reserve. The system eventually became a law that was enforced by the police. According to , these reserves began to “resemble prisons.”

Natives were commonly beaten, banned from shopping at the same stores as the non-indigenous population, forced into hard labor, and jailed for so much as speaking their native language.

Not much has changed since the 1800s.

The (Sort of) Investigation

The RCMP released a snippet of the phone call between Amber Tuccaro and her brother, but the investigation into Amber’s death moved at a snail’s pace, and Amber’s family has stated that the RCMP did not communicate with them during the investigation.

Amber’s brother, Paul Tuccaro — Source: Ponoka News

Indeed, someone did recognize the male voice in the audio recording, as the RCMP had hoped. Three separate women, in fact, said the voice belonged to a man named Pat Carson. The twisted old man offers free room and board to people who agree to help out on his ranch for free.

Old Pat is pretty well-known around Alberta. He’s so well-known, in fact, that there is a website dedicated to warning people against working for him — actually, more than one — and this warning comes directly from the RCMP. [11]

Pat Carson — Source: Sex Offender: Pat Carson

The warning — an update from the original — was posted in December 2014.

According to one website, when Pat Carson isn’t busy abusing his animals, he enjoys sexually assaulting young women and procuring underage prostitutes. He gains control over his victims by choking them.

What a nice guy.

Pat Carson — Source: Sex Offender: Pat Carson

The warning goes on to state:

The website contains stories from people who have worked for Pat Carson that will absolutely chill you to the bone, including this one, from 2012. I am copying it verbatim.

Carson has multiple aliases, and there are multiple warnings about him on the Internet, not just on the site I listed.

However, the RCMP spoke with Carson and told the Tuccaro family that they could find no links between Carson and Tuccaro’s abduction and murder. Still, it’s impossible to ignore that three women all claimed to recognize his voice in the recording, and all came forward separately.

Of course, had the police dedicated of their time to finding Amber when she first went missing, and if they had not taken two years to release the audio recording to the public, they may have found a link.

Then, in January 2020, the Alberta RCMP received a tip concerning the possible identity of Amber’s killer. [2] However, once again, that tip led to another dead end.

Source: Global News

A man called the Alberta RCMP to implicate his father in Amber’s disappearance and murder. The man then took to social media to post a lengthy diatribe explaining why he thought his father was involved in not only Tuccaro’s death but in several disappearances across the province.

While investigators did look into the man’s claim, his credibility was brought into question, as he had contacted Banff RCMP the previous month with similar allegations that his father was involved in missing persons cases in that area, but all of those cases had already been solved.

The RCMP said in a statement:

Serial Killer?

Investigators and the community near where Amber Tuccaro was found dead fear there may be a serial killer in the area, and that this individual may have been responsible for Amber’s death.

In the spring of 2015, after police found a fourth body in the same general area where Amber’s remains were discovered, the Leduc RCMP stated it was possible that a serial killer was active there, and that he may be using rural Leduc County as a dumping ground. [13]

Amber Tuccaro is one of four women who have been found dumped in Leduc County — Source: Red Power Media

All of the victims found in Leduc were indigenous women. However, all but Amber were sex workers.

Mary Schlosser, communications advisor for Edmonton RCMP, said in 2015:

No Answers and a Forced Apology

Tootsie and Paul Tuccaro — Source: The Star

In July 2019, the Alberta RCMP was forced to apologize to the Tuccaro family. [15] Five years before that, in 2014, the RCMP said that law enforcement “recognizes initial elements of the investigation were mishandled” and that it had “learned a great deal from this file,” but refused to issue a public apology at the family’s request at the time.

So when that apology finally came in the summer of 2019, Amber’s family said it was too little, too late.

Along with the apology came a 120-page report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission of the RCMP, which concluded, among other things, “that the investigation into Ms. Tuccaro’s disappearance was deficient in that various members were either not properly trained or did not adhere to their training and that various members did not comply with policies, procedures, and guidelines.”

It was the long way of saying, “We didn’t care.”

The report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP chastised the constable who removed Amber’s missing person entry, saying he “did not take reasonable steps to be satisfied that Ms. Tuccaro was safe” prior to removing the entry.

The RCMP also unveiled a new poster urging members of the public to come forward with any information they may have regarding Amber’s murder.

Still No Answers

Ten years after Amber Tuccaro was abducted and murdered, her killer is still at large.

Fortunately, some good has come from the RCMP’s piss-poor job of investigating the case. The police have instituted new policies and say they have addressed the many failures in the report released when they apologized to the Tuccaro family, including issues surrounding missing and murdered indigenous women.

If you have any information regarding the murder of Amber Alyssa Tuccaro, please contact the Alberta RCMP at 780–412–5261, or Crime Stoppers at 1–800–222-TIPS (8477).

Sources:

  1. Stories of the Unsolved
  2. The Hue and Cry
  3. Native Women’s Association of Canada
  4. The Murder Squad
  5. 13th Floor
  6. Human Rights Watch
  7. The Star
  8. . Season 2, Episode 9, Investigation Discovery, 21 July 2020.
  9. The New York Times
  10. Oh, Mike, director. . , 4 Oct. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eNPG-lztFE.
  11. SEX OFFENDER: Pat Carson, or Patrick Carson, ranch owner in Alberta, Canada
  12. Edmonton Journal
  13. My McMurray
  14. APTNNews
  15. Global News
  16. CBC News

My name is Julie Fidler. I’m a writer, author, wife, and animal lover. I shed light on unsolved mysteries and shocking crimes.

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