Very Sad Story

B.C. police find remains 20 years after teens disappeared

Vancouver — Separated from each other by a parental decree that forbade them to talk in the hallways outside class or attend school dances together, two teenagers in a remote British Columbia town found a desperate way out.

Twenty years ago Tamara Morrissey, 15, and Robert Fisher, 18, who expressed longings for each other in hundreds of love letters, ran away into the great forest that surrounds the resource town of Mackenzie, 160 kilometres north of Prince George.

This week, 20 years nearly to the day they vanished on May 6, 1985, the District of Mackenzie Search and Rescue team found their remains.

The remains were located in a thickly wooded area, in a steep ravine on the edge of town, about a 25-minute walk from the school where teenage couple was last seen alive.

Their bodies, the RCMP say, were found near, but not immediately next to one another.

Although authorities aren't commenting on the cause of death, it appears the young lovers, who longed to be together, died in a suicide pact.

“We've ruled out foul play and the case has been referred to the coroner's office in Prince George and they will determine how that all plays out,” RCMP Sergeant Brian Coldwell said yesterday.

The young couple's remains were found last Sunday, two days past the 20th anniversary of their disappearance, after police and the local search and rescue team joined forces in an attempt to solve the mystery.

“Although the file was 20 years old, we were active over the time period to try to resolve it,” Sgt. Coldwell said.

“We'd done a number of media broadcasts and initiatives looking for tips over the years. Most recently we had a meeting with search and rescue and kind of thought, ‘If somebody was to go in a certain area, where would they actually go?' ”

Starting from the last known location, at the local high school, the searchers plotted out a few locations where the couple might have gone had they been on foot.

“In one of these areas they actually found the remains,” Sgt. Coldwell said. “I guess you could say we stumbled on them, but we did consciously try to think of areas, like funnelling points, where people would have to go.”

He wasn't aware exactly which areas had been searched when the teens vanished, but wasn't surprised the early efforts failed. “Originally, when they went missing, they went missing from the high school and where they were located is not close to that.”

Mackenzie, with a population of about 5,000, is surrounded by an immense sweep of wilderness.

“There's the town of Mackenzie, but outside the town it's all bush,” Sgt. Coldwell said.

The area where the remains were located is near the Mackenzie Hospital, which was built in 1988, but at the time the pair went into the ravine it was an undeveloped area past the edge of town. It was then, as now, choked with bush.

“It's very steep in there. It's not the kind of place you'd go for a hike,” said a Mackenzie resident whose son was a close school friend of Robert Fisher.

Asking that her name not be used, she said the location, which she could see in the distance from her kitchen window, made some sense.

“Robert was always in the bush,” she said. “When they disappeared, my son just figured they'd run away and were camping in the bush.”

She said people in the community didn't think the kids had gone off to commit suicide. “They were just runaways. We thought they'd surface. Then over time it just faded away.”

In 1985, however, Tamara's mother, Mabeline Morrissey, was quoted in a Canadian Press story saying that she feared the worst.

She said the family had forbidden their strong-minded and stubborn daughter to see Robert because they feared her grades would suffer.

“We found out the day before she left that she'd been lying to us and seeing this boy. She probably didn't want to come home and face the music. We didn't want her marks to go down because she was seeing boys. But we wouldn't want them to go and do something stupid,” she said at the time.

“They would probably go and commit suicide together.”

That was an early police theory, too, first offered by Staff Sergeant Jack Keddy about five weeks after the teens vanished.

“In runaway cases, after a month, usually somebody hears something,” he said in June of 1985. “You have to accept the fact that suicide is always a possibility.”

At the time the couple disappeared, it wasn't known to the parents of either teenager just how infatuated with each other they had become.

The true nature of their relationship emerged only later, when Robert's sister found about 200 love letters in his room.

“At first, they were playful letters, just friends. Then they just gradually became really intense, about how much they loved each other,” Cheryl Gatzke said in a 2002 interview, in which she talked about her brother to support an RCMP effort to revive public interest in the unsolved case.

She said Tamara and Robert weren't allowed to see each other in or out of school.

“They were separated,” she said. “At school dances, there would be Robert on one wall and Tamara on another wall.”

The couple did find ways to communicate, however, and one spring day they slipped away.

The police file, which over the years grew to fill a large box in the Mackenzie RCMP office, indicates they may have taken sleeping bags and a pair of .22-calibre rifles with them. Yesterday, police would say only that there were “remnants” of fabric at the scene.

Tamara and Robert's immediate families have all moved from the Mackenzie area and couldn't be reached for comment yesterday. Ms. Gatzke, who is the Fisher family's spokeswoman, was not available.

Coroner Mike Green refused to say if police had found weapons at the scene, nor would he confirm the cause of death. He said it would be a few months yet before a report is completed.

A very sad story, maybe if they had left them alone the romance would have whithered on the vine.
Vanni Fucci
Some parents tend to forget how oblivious to reason kids can be when the horomones start to rage...

Very sad...
I used to shake my head at some of the "creatures" my daughters brought home with them,but knew it was pointless to try to forbid them from seeing someone.It helps when one is eternally young at heart & remembers what it was like to be a teen.
Vanni Fucci
Quote: Originally Posted by missile

It helps when one is eternally young at heart & remembers what it was like to be a teen.

...and to me, that is just as important as having good judgement...
That is a very sad story. I don't remember hearing about it. I lived in Mackenzie, for a time, several years before that happened.
A regular Romeo-and-Juliet story.

How sad. Their parents should have minded their own business.
Hey andygal did you really just get out of high school?? Your awful smart..
Vanni Fucci
I was thinking that too Pea, but I didn't want her to think that I was trying to seduce her... :P
I'm not quite out of high school yet. 3 weeks left before graduation, and then i have to take the government exams in 5 courses.

Which count for 40 percent of your final grade in the course. Good thing I'm good at tests.

And I still have to decide where I want to go afterwards.
Wait till lil ricky see least I think its a her...gouda cheese watch out :P
Vanni Fucci
Quote: Originally Posted by peapod

Wait till lil ricky see least I think its a her...gouda cheese watch out :P

Yeah...I think Andygal will be powerless to resist the charms of he and his monkey... :P
Quote: Originally Posted by missile

I used to shake my head at some of the "creatures" my daughters brought home with them,but knew it was pointless to try to forbid them from seeing someone.It helps when one is eternally young at heart & remembers what it was like to be a teen.

A lot of people forget what being a teenager is. Forbiding ones child from dating or seeing someone, just makes them more determined and in this case a horrible ending.
double post. meh. twice in 2 days. I am losing it.
Gouda boy and Andygal sitting in a tree................... :P :P :P
What can you do if they won't talk to you?
If they don't talk to you, there is a reason. The parents created romeo and julliette, the teenagers paid the price.
It is ashame those 2 young ones consulted no one older, isn't it ?

I don't know if you should condemn those parents so harshly without living the details of a lifetime with them?

You think they've paid the price?
You and I do not think in the same universe, I am not ordering lunch. There parents under estimated and ignored one of the most powerful emotions a human can have. They not only under estimated it, they made it toxic...they did not factor in "longing"
You're a tough judge, peapod.
Quote: Originally Posted by peapod

Wait till lil ricky see least I think its a her...gouda cheese watch out :P

LOL pea.. :P
Gouda cheese is good


Its a very sad story.....
I never said anything about parents not setting limitations. Its their methods that don't work, one can be shown things in sutle ways, even if your a teenager. I have no doubt the parents feel badly.
These 2 kids made a suicide pact.

Are we all the products of our parent's mistakes?

They ran away only to find they brought themselves with them, as though they never left.

How much does the unconscious (that internal programming pilot) drive us?

Is it the part of ourselves that can drive a car and not recall how we got home, is what drives other actions as well ?

Hypnotists know this more than anyone else.

We got a tape player running endlessly in the cranium.
no matter where you go, there you are
Amen Peapod.

No matter where you, there you are.

And so as my good friend, who shares your political views, says that even wherever we take ourselves, we want to hear only the echo of ourselves and so no real conversation ever takes place.
Ya, I hear you on the no conversation taking place statement.
LOL, peapod !!

Are we the products of our parents' mistakes?

Is it true I only want to hear an echo of myself?

I better run for cover now.
Quote: Originally Posted by Andygal

A regular Romeo-and-Juliet story.

How sad. Their parents should have minded their own business.

Sad story...and kinda stupid.

BTW, their parents were minding their own business...
Being a parent myself this horrifies me.

Having had relations with people I know my parents didn't like I understand (to a degree) what these kids were feeling.

The statement that sticks out the most to me is the one where the parents of the girl mention "her grades might slip. Not that they did slip. Just that they might. They mention this child was "strong willed" then how come the parents didn't think about the child...rather they demanded absolute obidience and gave no thought to what would happen if their child didn't "bend" to their authority. They knew there daughters nature. THey choose to ignore it and were cocky about their parenting abilities.

Parenting is different for every child. The goal is to learn about YOUR child and work with them. You can not successfully raise a child using a discipline style that does not allow for individuality of child.

The parents suffered the worse possible outcome for their mistake. It's unfortunate. But sometimes you only get 1 chance at things. It's best to take time to think about your choice rather then expect your answer is the right one.

Alot of people just go with what they think is right. THey often give it no thought. And some find it incredibly difficult to acknowledge that maybe their way is not the best way. Being a parent sometimes gives people this unjust notion that they know what's right for their child. Yet we see with the mother of this girl that even though she knew about her daughters personality she gave no thought to how her child might respond to such punishment.....
Twila, that was a wonderful post, heartfelt.
This is a terrible story. Sadly I understand it too well. My son is 16 with a 15 year old g/f. Her mom hates my boy and makes it difficult if not impossible for them to see each other. She also finds it beyond amusing the trials they go through to be together. She makes a great deal of effort to keep them apart and I just know this will blow up in her face. These kids are in LOVE and teen love is soooo powerful that no parent will come between them. I can only imagine the plan these kids will come up with.

Let's hope it isn't a suicide pact.

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