The Disappearances of Shannon Alexander & Maisy Odjick

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EARLY LIFE:

Shannon Mary Dale Alexander was born on March 29, 1991. A member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, she lived in the nearby town of Maniwaki, Quebec with her father, Bryan Alexander. According to those who knew her, Shannon was an outgoing and loving girl who would go out of her way to help those she cared about. She liked to stay fit, and she was known for her passionate spirit, as she was always looking to pursue the goals she held in life. A cadet at her local high school, she had plans to attend nursing school in the fall in Mont Laurier, with Bryan having already paid for her tuition.

Maisy Marie Odjick was born on November 6, 1991. Like Shannon, she was a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation and lived on the reserve with her mother and grandmother. She was known for being very hands on, loving to sew her own clothes and draw, and she spent her free time with friends and family.

The two girls were best friends. They attended high school together and partook in typical teenager activities, such as gossiping about boys and socializing at popular hangouts. They often held sleepovers at Shannon’s house and were overall well-behaved, never getting into trouble, nor participating in behaviour that would be deemed “high-risk”.

LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:

September 5, 2008 was the last time Maisy’s mother, Laurie Odjick, saw her daughter. She had been outside mowing her grandmother’s law, with Shannon by her side. That night, Maisy had decided to spend the night at Shannon’s apartment, as they planned to attend a school dance at the Maniwaki Arena. Many of the girls’ classmates recall seeing them that night.

The next day, Shannon walked her father to the bus station, while Maisy slept in. Bryan was travelling to Ottawa to help his son paint his house. This would be the last time he would see his daughter.

DISAPPEARANCE:

On September 7, 2008, Laurie tried to get in contact with her daughter, but was unable to do so. While she was a little worried, she was sure Maisy would call soon, as she’d been instructed to do so before heading to Shannon’s a few days prior. Bryan returned home to find the girls were not there, which confused him, given they’d left behind their backpacks, wallets, purses and identification. Shannon had also left behind her medication.

The next day, Laurie went over to the apartment, where she and Bryan exchanged information. The pair began to worry about their daughters’ locations, and Laurie started calling their friends, learning small tidbits of information regarding the last people to see the two. It was on this day that the police were alerted to the disappearances.

SEARCH:

Initially, the police listed the two girls as runaways, a decision the families believe stalled the investigation. According to detectives, there was no indication the pair had gotten into trouble, which struck a wrong cord with Bryan and Laurie, given Maisy and Shannon had left behind their personal belongings. Concerned, both families continued to insist the girls would never have run away. While they had in the past left unannounced, they would always call to keep their loved ones informed of their whereabouts.

Unfortunately, the runaway classification resulted in numerous hinderances to the case. Not only was Bryan’s apartment not searched, the media were not immediately alerted and the families did not receive official case numbers. Another hinderance was that the girls technically lived in different jurisdictions. As Maisy lived on the reserve, her case was being handled by the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Police Department, while Shannon’s was handled by the Sûreté du Québec, the province’s police force. As of 2009, Maisy’s case was officially transferred to the provincial organization.

On September 12, 2008, the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation set up a press conference, where Laurie and Bryan urged their daughters to return home. Unfortunately, only the local paper showed up.

On September 23, 2008, volunteers came together to hang up missing persons flyers and combed riverbanks on the reserve, using boats that had been volunteered to the cause. Canvas searches also occurred in Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec at this time.

To help get word out about the girls’ disappearances, Maisy’s aunt, Maria Jacko, set up a website dedicated to the case, and a few weeks later, during the 2008 Thanksgiving long-weekend, a search was organized within Ottawa, after several reported sightings in the city’s Vanier area.

Search and Rescue Global One was invited to help participate in the search in December 2008. They conducted two searches, with the first involving the Ottawa Valley Search and Rescue Dog Association and around 100 community members combing a 5km area around Bryan’s apartment. The second occurred in May 2009, but both failed to uncover any evidence.

That same month, bones were found near the reserve. While they were at first believed to be related to the cases, tests revealed they belonged to an animal.

Investigators say they’ve received tips that the girls may have been seen in Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa. As a result, they held a news conference in the Ontario city, where they further revealed more sightings. According to tips, it’s possible Shannon and Maisy had been seen in numerous areas around the eastern and southern areas of the province.

At this time, the Ontario Provincial Police added profiles of both girls to their missing persons webpage.

In August 2011, investigators revealed the pair may have come into contact with a local sex offender. The unnamed man died by suicide in July 2011 whilst being held in the Hull jail, leaving behind a suicide note. Not much else has been shared regarding this aspect of the investigation.

October 2013 saw two awareness campaigns held. The first was the Sisters In Spirit march at Parliament Hill, which aimed to highlight Canada’s numerous cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The second was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police social media campaign, which highlighted 10 cases of missing Indigenous women, including Maisy and Shannon.

In December 2015, age-progression sketches were released to show what the girls might have looked like at 24 years old.

New information about the disappearances was received in July 2017, which led to a search of Pitobig Creek on the Kitigan Zibi reserve. The area was near Paganakomin Road and the Maniwaki Speedway. Investigators had been led to believe that Shannon and Maisy’s bodies could be found there, so they used a small excavator, the forensics team, an emergency unit and dive teams to search the waters and surrounding area. Unfortunately, nothing was found, and police learned that the Speedway had been expanded over the years, meaning that the shoreline had been disturbed by moved dirt.

At this time, 20 individuals were interviewed in relation to the case.

A billboard has been set up at the entrance of the reserve, which features the pair’s names, images and numbers drivers can call if they have any information.

On the 10th anniversary of Maisy and Shannon’s disappearances, investigators set up a command post in the community’s cultural centre and urged people to send in new leads.

A second billboard, which is digital, was installed along Highway 105, the main road that runs through the reserve, in February 2020. It features information about the case, as well as that of Sindy Ruperthouse, who went missing from Val-d’Or, Quebec on April 23, 2014. The project is one of more than 100 being funded by Canada’s national inquiry into the country’s missing and murdered Indigenous women. The billboard itself will be used to display unsolved missing person and homicide cases, and will serve as an alert system for the surrounding region.

Detectives have shared that the majority of tips came in during the first three months of the investigation. They have officially ruled out that the girls left voluntarily and are working on the assumption that their disappearances are suspicious and possibly resulted in homicide. Over the course of the investigation, the Sûreté du Québec has collaborated with a host of other police agencies, including the OPP, the RCMP and the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Police Department.

AFTERMATH:

Shannon and Maisy’s families hold a march and vigil in Kitigan Zibi each year in order to maintain awareness about their disappearances. Maisy’s extended family also holds an annual walk/run to help raise money for a reward fund.

In 2009, Laurie published a poem dedicated to her daughter.

Laurie has been asked to speak at various events related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and publicly supports groups that bring awareness to such cases, such as the REDress Project and Walking With Our Sisters. She was one of many who travelled to Ottawa to speak with federal ministers during Canada’s national inquiry. While she hoped the inquiry would look into the relationship between families and law enforcement, she has since questioned the federal government’s actions and findings.

Maisy’s cousin, Jennifer Tenasco, is a runner who is looking to make a name for herself in order to raise awareness about the case and those of other Indigenous women. She has competed in the Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Shannon Mary Dale Alexander was last seen on September 6, 2008 in Maniwaki, Quebec. She was 17 years old, and while what she was last seen wearing is unknown, it’s believed she might have a silver necklace with a feather around her neck. At the time of her disappearance, she stood at 5’9″ sand weighed approximately 141 to 145 pounds. She has short brown-to-black hair and brown eyes. She has a scar on her left knee and a pockmarked complexion, with acne scars on her face. Her ears are pierced, and she is known to sometimes use the surname “Mathewise”.

Maisy Marie Odjick was last seen on September 6, 2008 in Maniwaki, Quebec. She was 16 years old, and what she was last seen wearing is unknown. At the time of her disappearance, she stood between 5’10” and 6″ tall and weighed approximately 120 to 126 pounds. She has short brown-to-black hair and brown eyes. She has numerous piercings: one on her left eyebrow, two on her lower lip and two on her nipples. She has a scar above her right eyebrow.

Those with information regarding the cases are asked to contact the Sûreté du Québec’s Central Info-Crime Line at 1-800-659-4264. Tips can also be called into the Missing Children Society of Canada at 1-800-661-6160 and the Missing Children’s Network at 1-888-692-4673.

Image Credit: Find Maisy and Shannon

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