By Lethbridge Herald on August 17, 2020.
The family of missing Lethbridge man Marshal Iwaasa has begun a change.org petition to pressure police investigators into declaring the case criminal.
Paige Fogen, Iwaasa’s sister, said her family feels like there is enough evidence for police to take things to the next level to try to find out the fate of their missing loved one.
“The case is still being investigated, and to our knowledge, is just a standard missing persons case,” she told media representatives on Monday. “From what we have learned along the way, there are some barriers when it is not considered criminal.
“There are barriers to what the police are allowed to access and look into. There are barriers as far as the historical data they can gather on my brother to see what was happening prior to his disappearance.
“For us this has always been very suspicious,” Fogen added
“And at this point where we are at in this investigation, nine months in, we believe as a family this is a criminal case, and we do want it pushed to be treated that way.”
At the very least, she said, there is enough evidence to suggest arson was responsible for the state of her brother’s burned-out truck when discovered last November up an isolated logging road in British Columbia near Pemberton.
“We would hope having a burned-out truck would be evidence for it to be criminal if it is arson,” she said.
In order to make that determination official, Fogen said the police have been awaiting the results of a fire investigation report done on the vehicle at the end of June. Which is another frustrating thing, she admitted, as it took the police seven months to carry out such an investigation when a burned-out truck was a fairly obvious sign something was amiss at the scene from the get go. She also said, to her knowledge, the police had not carried out fingerprinting or DNA testing on out-of-place items found at the scene, or in the storage locker where Marshal was last known to visit before going missing.
“It’s more than just frustrating,” stated Fogen’s husband Dustin, who was also present at Monday’s media conference alongside Marshal’s mother Tammy Johnson and cousin Sharon French. “It’s unacceptable that we are here nine months in, and this is where we are at. The truth is a fire investigation should have been done immediately, and lots of these things we are asking for in the petition should also have been done immediately. Fingerprints should have been taken from stuff we said is not Marshal’s. These are basic things that we expect to be done.”
The family has hired its own team of private investigators to work on the case, and commissioned its own fire investigation on Marshal’s vehicle. Dustin said the investigations have led to one inescapable conclusion.
“It was clearly arson,” he stated. “The problem is we have to wait for the police fire report. Our fire report doesn’t mean much. It has to be the RCMP or the LPS fire report. But it was clearly arson. There is no doubt about it.”
With an extensive police search of the area where Marshal’s vehicle was found earlier this summer finding no evidence of Marshal’s presence, Fogen felt it is time to move this case forward to the next level.
“I think at this point we have crossed off that he was at the truck site,” she said, “and that is something I personally feel very confident in with the searches that have taken place, and the teams that were up there investigating. I don’t believe there is a body of my brother up there. And, for me, I believe the next steps would be looking at the last place he was found (in Lethbridge).”
Marshal’s mother hoped police would listen to what the family is requesting.
“This could happen to anyone and, for us, we just need answers,” said Johnson. “Personally, I don’t understand why it takes (so much), and why do we have to push so hard? All we want is to find out what happened to Marshal. That’s all we want.”
To sign the change.org petition visit http://www.change.org/p/help-marshal-iwaasa-s-disappearance-be-investigated-as-criminal.
The LPS issued a statement in response to the petition:
The Lethbridge Police Service understands the family of Marshal Iwaasa is seeking answers in relation to his disappearance, and we can assure the community the investigation will remain open and ongoing until he is located.
A thorough and comprehensive investigation has been undertaken and any and all new evidence or information that comes to light in future will continue to be vigorously pursued.
From the onset of the missing person investigation Iwaasa’s disappearance has been considered suspicious, however, as previously stated, there is no credible, corroborated or compelling evidence to suggest foul play or that the matter is criminal in nature.
Not all information and evidence in this case has been or can be shared publicly or with the Iwaasa family in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.
LPS is aware of an online petition initiated by the Iwaasa family to have the missing person case re-classified as criminal, however in order for any investigation to be deemed criminal there must be evidence to support that a crime has occurred. With respect to the Iwaasa investigation, there is no such evidence and the matter cannot be re-classified at this time.
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