Unsolved Mysteries of the World
The Unsolved Disappearance of Terry Pettit and Ron Yakimchuk
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It was a bright sunny day when Ron Yakimchuk and his wife Terry Pettit decided to head East across Canada. They had big plans and were excited to start their new life.
Ron and Terry left Edmonton, Alberta Canada on June 9, 1973 to head east to Montreal, attend a friend's wedding and then settle in the Maritimes where Ron hoped to land a teaching position, and Terry, a journalist intended to seek employment at a newspaper.
En Route they stopped in to friends in Brandon, Manitoba and the next day mailed a one-word postcard back home to family in Edmonton telling them they had made it as far as Dryden, in time, and without a breakdown – and owed a $50 bet!
However, Ron and Terry did not show up at the wedding as planed and were never seen from again.
This is unsolved mysteries of the world season 4 episode 9 The Unsolved Disappearance of Terry Pettit and Ron Yakimchuk.
Ron and Terry had packed the 1959 Volkswagen Beetle as much as possible. The tiny car was battered, but drivable. The faded red color and mismatched green hood and fender made the vehicle stand out but not nearly as much as the 6 ft bright white Kayak tied to the roof and the many boxes and household supplies packed into the tiny backseat. The bright yellow Alberta license plate would also have stuck out to any eye-witnesses.
Friends said that the couple were adventurous and even said they may travel as far as Europe. At the time, however, only Terry had a passport. Ron was described as laid back and extremely sensible and mature and would have not made any quick decisions. Terry is described as more adventurous who drank scotch whiskey, rolled her own cigarettes and loved to drag friends off on adventures
The last known location, according to police is that the couple were in Dryden, Ontario. Police are uncertain if they continued on the journey through Canada via Highway One, which at the time was narrow, hilly and very remote, or if they decided to cross into the United States at International Falls and continue to Duluth Minnesota via larger and faster interstate highways to cut across and slip back into Canada near Sue St, Marie or Detroit. At the time, no records were kept of border crossings. It is uncertain if they did cross any borders.
Since their last known location their bank accounts were never used. Ron's life insurance policy was never cashed in and the couple, even after all these years has not been declared dead.
What is more baffling is that the highly visible VW Beetle and all the contents, including the Kayak disappeared as well.
Police indicate they have received tips over the years but nothing significant has surfaced.
However, Vivian McCroary indicated she witnessed the vehicle and occupants in July of 1973 in Parry Sound, Ontario, some 1450 kilometres south east of Dryden, Ontario.
"I phoned the police at the time and they didn't even take my phone number and name," she said. "I swear it's the same car."
Vivian says she remembers it well because the 1959 VW was parked on the roadway with the couple and another man standing near it and her husband slammed on the brakes and swerved around it narrowly avoiding an accident. She remembers seeing an Alberta license plate as well. The vehicle was in the southbound lanes of highway 69 and the rear engine hood was up. There was no sign of the white Kayak, tied to the roof, however.
"There was a tall, slim fellow with dark hair and ... a hippy hair cut," she says. "He was standing more in the ditch. There was this other man and woman and they were on the left hand side in front of the vehicle. I couldn't see the man particularly well. He was pretty well behind the woman. He wasn't much taller than her."
OPP Det. Const. Scott Johnston says he is following up on the tip from 35 years ago and indicated there was another incident with a VW at about the same time that may be related, but did not elaborate.
When the couple did not make it to the wedding friends and family were concerned but not overly taken up by the couple's absence. The report of them missing came weeks later and it took months before any earnest search of the couple began.
Adding to the mystery is that friend Winston Gereluk, said "Terry told me they were going away and nobody would find them for a while.”
Friends did some snooping on their own. They checked to see whether the driver's licences were renewed, or social assistance was being collected or taxes being paid.
"As time went on, I think we said that if they went underground, boy they did it really well because they just sank without a trace,” adds Gereluk.
Police have also collected DNA from family members to check on unidentified remains. So far, there has been no matches.
The case remains unsolved.