June 30, 2021:
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have announced they’ve uncovered the identity of the unidentified male found deceased in a septic tank in Tofield, Alberta on April 13, 1977.
Commonly referred to as “Septic Tank Sam” or “Sam Doe“, the deceased has been identified as 25-year-old Gordon “Gordie” Edwin Sanderson of Edmonton, Alberta. The identification come after the RCMP sent biological samples to Othram Labs in Woodlands, Texas. After successfully creating a DNA profile from the samples, they searched it against public databanks in both the United States and Canada.
Through their efforts, they were able to develop a family tree of potential relatives. The RCMP took this information and were able to obtain DNA samples from these familial matches, including his sister, Joyce Sanderson. After being sent away for forensic testing, in October 2020 they were able to confirm the familial DNA was a match to Sam Doe.
Gordon, an Indigenous man, was taken from his family and placed into foster care during the Sixties Scoop, which saw many Indigenous children taken from their families with the aim of being adopted by white families. His unstable living situation led him to later struggle with drug addiction, and he had numerous run-ins with the law.
At the time of his death, he was residing in Edmonton. The last time Joyce spoke with him, he’d said he was planning on visiting their brother, Arthur Sanderson, in Calgary. He never made the meeting, and his family never heard from him again. Joyce reported him missing in the early 1980s.
According to investigators, the case is currently being handled as an active homicide investigation. It’s their belief he was killed by associates involved in similar crimes to him, but acknowledge they may no longer be alive, given how much time has passed. They are, however, interested in speaking with anyone who knew Gordon or who may have information regarding his murder.
Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the Tofield detachment of the RCMP at 780-662-3353 or their local police department.
Stories of the Unsolved will update this article as more details emerge.
Image Credit: CTV News