There comes a time in a missing persons case where authorities need to move on to other cases. It's sad, but as years pass it can drain resources for other cases which may be more likely to be solved.
That's why the case of Anna and Kym Hakze, sisters that went missing in the mid-80s, is so strange.
Anna Hakze, now 67, was in her mid-thirties the last time her family saw her. Anna's younger sister, Kym (now 53), would have been in her early 20s. The two were inseparable according to their mom.
The last time their family saw them, Anna and Kym were in Edmonton, Canada in the mid-1980s. Anna slowly became estranged from her family and was struggling financially. However, it wasn't until 2003 that the sisters' mother reported them missing. She died before her daughters were ever found.
Police never closed the case, hoping someone might be able to provide information which would give the Hakze family some closure.
Over the years, there were a few tips about the sisters, but nothing concrete. At one point, it was believed they were victims of Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton after speculation the sisters had moved to Vancouver. There were no DNA matches so that lead fell short.
Police also managed to trace down an alias Anna Hakze was known to use, but they just found the woman the name belonged to and confirmed it was not the missing person. However, she gave police a newspaper clipping from 1984 by an author with the same, unusual name as her. She kept it for years thinking it was funny.
In 2012, police got a tip on the possible location of both sisters. One authored several books, though under a different name than the 1984 clipping, while the other went by an alias Kym was known to use. Once again, the trail ran dry and the police were left with no leads.
But then, something no one expected happened.
A New Discovery
In early 2017, police gained some traction on the case of the missing Hakze sisters. A story about the author from their 2012 tip surfaced online, and included a location and photo. This helped narrow down where the sisters could be located. When police searched records for that name, nothing showed up. However, when they searched for the name of the author from the 1984 newspaper clipping, they found a file from the United States. In that file, a sister was listed as next of kin.
“Today’s world is big, vast,” Staff Sgt. Scott Woods of the Lethbridge (Alberta) Police Service said. “But it also — because of travel and now the Internet — can be very small, too.”
After using fingerprint identification, police were able to confirm the two women living in the United States were, in fact, Anna and Kym Hakze.
According to Kym Hakze, who goes by a new name now, neither she nor her sister knew they were reported missing. Anna Hakze has not yet spoken to police, but U.S. authorities confirmed her identity and location.
"Without going into a lot of detail, and respecting their privacy, they had just left, due to some family turmoil … and had moved on, and were living their own life," Woods said.
Neither the names nor location are being released in an attempt to protect their privacy. Kym Hakze has been given contact information for her siblings.
So what's next?
“After so many years, it’s very unusual for a case like this to end with good news,” Staff Sgt. Scott Woods said. “Usually we find ourselves telling a family their loved one has met with some sort of tragedy or, more often than not in a case of this age, never being able to provide any answers.”
Now, it's up to the sisters if they want to reconnect with family members who spent decades looking for them.
"I thought about them for all these years. I always hung onto a thread of hope because there was no confirmation either way that they were alive or not alive," their brother, Ken Hakze, said. "They can contact me in a number of ways: through social media, they have my phone number and know where I live and that sort of thing. But due to the Privacy Act I don't know where they are or anything about them."
It's unclear if the reunion will happen, but it's nice to know the family can stop worrying about the whereabouts of the sisters.
"We have a second chance here to reconnect as a family and that is just a joyous occasion."