I want to take a moment to talk about my decision to publish the recent episodes of 'Island Crime' about the possible involvement of the 'brown van man” in the disappearance of 4 year old Michael Dunahee on March 24th 1991.
I researched and reported on Michael Dunahee's case for almost two years prior to publishing the updates. During that time I worked closely with the Dunahee family and with Victoria police members past and present.
Based on my research, I concluded the subject of these episodes represents the best lead in solving Michael Dunahee's disappearance. I’ve made this information public, in hopes it spurs someone who knows something, to come forward.
I stand by the reporting included in the episodes. My decision to publish was made only after I informed Victoria police of the information I uncovered. I delayed publication for almost a year, waiting for their input.
In March 2022, I sent an affidavit to the Victoria PD, with details of the research I had done on the tip about the alleged attempted abduction in September 1989.
In this case, a man driving a brown van is alleged to have attempted to abduct a 3-year-old child at nearly the same location of Michael’s subsequent abduction two years later. A citizen noted the license plate involved in the attempt.
I was uncomfortable holding onto the information, worried the subject could soon die, but I received no response to the affidavit. I repeatedly asked the Victoria police, if the subjects were actively under investigation, not wanting to upend an active investigation. No response was ever given. One of my sources also privately relayed this question to the lead investigator. Again, no response.
I tried to verify aspects of the story through freedom of information requests with both the Saanich PD and the Victoria PD. I was told because the Dunahee case remained open; the privacy of the investigation would not be breached.
In July 2022, I was asked to hold off on publishing the episodes about the 'brown van man.’ I agreed to do so, out of respect for the Dunahee family and the immense amount of work that has been done on Michael's file by the Victoria police down the years.
Before Christmas 2022 I once again spoke with Victoria PD spokesperson Bowen Osoko regarding publishing the story. He thanked me for my patience and what he described as my 'gentle approach.'
After the holidays, I arranged to meet with Crystal and Caitlin Dunahee, Michael’s mother and sister, to let them know it was our intention to publish. 3 decades on, there remains strong public interest in resolving this case. There is also the possibility there may be other victims out there who could come forward. The subject is recently deceased. If he was guilty of harming anyone in the past, this could be a time when they feel they could now step forward.
The story has two extremely credible sources. It was vetted by two senior journalists, the Frequency podcast producer and the legal counsel for Rogers, the company that owns Frequency Podcasts. I even took the unusual step of providing the Victoria police with the stories 24 hrs in advance of publication.
To the Dunahees, I can’t imagine how difficult a time this must be for your family. My deepest respect goes out to you for all that you’ve done to keep Michael's memory alive and to keep attention focused on the case.
Someone knows something essential to solving the 3 decades’ old mystery of the disappearance of Michael Dunahee. By publishing these episodes, I’m hoping those who have further information related the "brown van man", will finally share it.