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B.C. cold case file: This family of four vanished without a trace in 1989

Relatives have not given up on getting answers about what happened to Ronnie, Doreen, Ryan, and Russell Jack.

On Aug. 1, 1989, Ronnie Jack, 26, was at the First Litre Pub, a sketchy Prince George drinking hole about four blocks from his home. While there he got to talking to a man in his late thirties who offered Ronnie and his wife Doreen temporary jobs at a logging camp. Since they didn’t own a car, they’d leave with the man that night.

Ronnie called his mother, Mabel, and told her that they would be working in the Cluculz Lake area. He would be bucking logs and Doreen would work as a cook’s helper in the camp kitchen.

The kids would go with them. Ronnie said they would be gone about 10 days, back well before Russell started school that September.

As weeks went by with no word from the family, Mabel Jack reported the family missing to the RCMP. The time factor was a major obstacle. Witness reports are notoriously unreliable, and after this much time, it would be even harder to nail down a timeline or to find a reliable description of the suspect and his vehicle.

Several theories have circulated over the years. At first, police believed the family was most likely involved in an accident, the vehicle hidden in dense bush off the side of a road. But the area was thoroughly searched, and the unidentified driver—the man who offered them the job—would also likely have been reported missing by his family or his employer, but no reports ever came in.

A second theory was that the job offer was real, but it wasn’t legal; something went wrong, and the family was killed. Another darker theory was that the kids were the target all along; the parents were quickly and quietly subdued and killed, and the kids taken by sex traffickers.

Doreen’s younger sister Marlene searched for the Jacks in Vancouver, and Mabel searched for them in the Prince George area. When her sister first went missing, Marlene says that the RCMP told her that if she went to the media, they would not talk to her about their investigation. She believed them, and, for a long time, she stayed silent. But tired of being stonewalled, Marlene was determined to get some answers. Over the years she has hassled police, taken her story to the media, and started a Facebook group called Missing Jack Family out of Prince George, which at the present time has just about 3,700 followers.

If you have any information about the Jack family’s disappearance, please contact the Prince George RCMP at 250-561-3300; or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.

Eve Lazarus is a reporter and author, and she hosts and produces the Cold Case Canada true crime podcast. Her books include the B.C. bestsellers Murder by MilkshakeCold Case Vancouver and Vancouver Exposed. Eve’s latest book is Cold Case BC: The Stories Behind the Province’s Most Intriguing Murder and Missing Person Cases.