Police seek public’s help in solving 1988 missing person’s case

Cathy Williams.jpg
Cathy Lynn Williams, seen above in this undated police handout, has been missing since 1988. (RCMP handout)

We see their names in the headlines.

Claudette Osborne.

Jennifer Catcheway.

Hillary Angel Wilson.

Osborne and Catcheway have been missing for years. Wilson murdered, then dumped in a field.

The women and their families’ search for answers have received much media attention over the years, but sadly there are others who are missing that we don’t hear about like Cathy Lynn Williams.

The 22-year-old St. Andrews woman vanished in Winnipeg in 1988 and hasn’t been seen since.

In recent months, police have quietly been asking for the public’s help in solving the case, but in a day where headlines of missing indigenous women are commonplace, will anyone care?


My story on Williams is below.

By Austin Grabish

She vanished under mysterious circumstances on a late summer night and hasn’t been seen in almost three decades, but police insist the case of Cathy Lynn Williams hasn’t fallen cold.

The St. Andrews woman was just 22 when she went missing after a day trip to Winnipeg on August 22, 1988, and has never been found.

Police seem poised to solve Williams’ case and highlighted it and others in a hasty ad campaign in the weeks leading up to Christmas last year, but details of it are being kept close to the chest.

Both Winnipeg police and RCMP have been oddly mum when pressed for simple details about the case.

Williams is one of 28 missing or murdered persons being investigated by Project Devote, a provincial task force made up of investigators from Winnipeg police and RCMP.

Project Devote team commander Sgt. Rob Lasson said police are still treating Williams as a missing person and are not ruling out the possibility she’s alive though it’s unlikely.

“It’s not a cold case it’s an active investigation,” he said.

Lasson said Williams was last seen at the Santa Lucia on St. Mary’s Road in Winnipeg, and that information’s different from what police first told media in 1988.

Newspaper archives reviewed last week by the Record say Williams went missing near the 200 block of Furby Street in the city.

Her adoptive mother Thelma Williams, who was 86 when her daughter went missing, told the local paper Cathy was in Winnipeg to apply for a job as a parking attendant on the day she went missing.

She told a reporter a note was found after her daughter’s disappearance that sounded like she was ‘saying goodbye.’

Raymond Johnston, a 31-year-old welder who had proposed to Cathy a year prior, was reported to have found the note.

Four months after Williams vanished, Thelma said she thought her daughter was living in Winnipeg, but couldn’t understand why she didn’t contact her especially since she had been blind for over a year and relied on her daughter’s help.

St. Andrews Mayor George Pike was Williams’ neighbour on Mitchell Bay and remembers seeing her grow up.

“She was going to school and playing sports at the community club,” Pike said.

The former Winnipeg police officer didn’t work on Williams’ case, but remembers the door knocking by police that happened when she went missing.

“They had rumours where she was or where she went, but nothing was ever finalized,” he said.

Pike said he didn’t know if Williams had any family members that are still alive, but he recalled that her home was sold many years ago and has changed hands a few times since.

Lasson declined to say if Williams left behind any other relatives, but said police are searching for answers.

“She hasn’t been forgotten we’re actively working on this case.”

He said anyone with information about Williams is encouraged to come forward even if they think the information may be hearsay.

“People need to understand that even the smallest bit of information can link two huge pieces together, so anything is important,” he said.

“It can even be as simple as somebody phoning in saying they last saw her with a certain person or they last saw her wearing certain clothes.”

Tips can be left with Project Devote by calling 1-888-673-3316.

If you have information about Williams, the Record would also like to speak with you.

Austin Grabish can be reached at austin@selkirkrecord.ca

— First published in the Selkirk Record print edition February 11, 2016, p. 2 

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