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Vancouver Cold Case Files: The 1969 unsolved murder of 7-year-old Evangeline Azarcon

Who killed the Vancouver school girl and left her at an abandoned mill in Surrey over 50 years ago?
Left: Evangeline Azarcon, 7. Right: The Azarcon house on West 19th Avenue in 2015.

The Azarcon family lived in a duplex in the South Cambie area of Vancouver. Seven-year-old Evangeline, the second oldest of five children, went to Edith Cavell Elementary school. On November 20, 1969, she walked to school with her friend and next-door neighbour Caroline Cruz as they normally did.

Most afternoons, Evangeline and Caroline stayed after school to help their teacher get the classroom ready for the next day. But on this particular day, Caroline wasn’t available, and Evangeline stayed behind with Stephanie Yada. The two little girls walked home afterwards. They parted company near Heather Street and 19th Avenue, by the park, at around 3:15 p.m.

When Evangeline hadn’t arrived home by 3:30 p.m., her mother began to worry. If Evangeline was going to a friend’s place to play after school, she always asked her mother first. At 4 p.m. Corazon started calling around Evangeline’s friends. No one had seen her. Then she called Evangeline’s father, Alejandro, who came home from work and spent hours searching the neighbourhood. At first, he thought she might have either fallen, been hit by a car, or taken a detour and was lost. When he couldn’t find any trace of his daughter, he called the police.

Police asked residents in the area to check their yard, garage, basement and even their garbage cans - anywhere that might offer a potential clue as to the little girl’s disappearance. More than 5,000 people joined in the search, tramping through dense bush in areas as far east as Chilliwack and as far south as the Blaine-Douglas U.S. border. By the time the official search was called off on December 12, close to 50,000 people had searched bush, back streets, mountains, beaches and riverbanks.

At 9:30 a.m. on January 20, 1970, a farmer in Port Kells, a neighbourhood of Surrey, was walking through an abandoned mill site that adjoined his property. He came across a red child’s lunch box with Evangeline’s name written inside it. He called police.

Police scoured the property and found a child’s body lying face down in a drainage trench flooded by about 60 centimetres of water. Evangeline was still dressed in the clothes she wore the day she went missing. It was two months to the day after she disappeared.

An autopsy showed Evangeline died the day she was abducted—between four and ten hours after eating the lunch her mother had packed for her. She had been sexually assaulted and had either drowned or choked to death on her own stomach contents.

If you have any information about Evangeline Azarcon’s unsolved murder, please contact Vancouver Police 604-717-3321 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 BC bestsellers Murder by Milkshake; Cold Case Vancouver and Vancouver Exposed. Eve’s latest book, Cold Case BC will be out in October.