Unsolved Mysteries of the World


What Happened to Charles Horvath?

Season 6, Ep. 6

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Welcome to Unsolved Mysteries of the World Season Six Episode Six - What Happened to Charles Horvath?

Charles KJ Horvath was an adventurous young man who was visiting Canada, making his way from Ontario, where he met with his father and godfather and then travelling solo by hitchhiking highway One all the way across the prairies, into Alberta and finally into British Columbia.

He was in Swift Current, Sask. in March 1989 and cashed a check at the Royal Bank.

In April he had moved on to Banff, Alberta working at The Rimrock Hotel.

He arrived on May 3rd 1989 in Kelowna and set up camp in a campground across from a prospective employer – the small tourist theme park then known as Bedrock City – a 70s era tourist trap.

Charles registered for work at several student employment agencies to help him along on his backpacking and hitchhiking adventure.

On May 26th of 1989, Charles cashed a small check at a Royal Bank. He was to make arrangements with his mother to meet up in Hong Kong via Vancouver to celebrate his 21st and her 40th birthday. But he would never make it to Hong Kong and the grainy security footage at the bank was all that remained of Charles Horvath. He simply vanished into thin air.

Denise Horvath-Allan, Charles' mother, telephoned the Kelowna Detachment of the RCMP asking for their help in locating her son as she was anxious as she had not received an expected call from him in May 1989. The RCMP were reluctant to file a missing persons case as Charles was an adult and at the time did not suspect foul play.

Denise phoned the RCMP several more time, getting anxious with each proceeding call.

It wasn't until August 10th 1989 that an official missing persons report was taken, over two months later.

A year later, in July of 1990 the RCMP launched a search of the area inside the campsite where Charles had been staying. It appears that after Charles had gone missing several other residents took advantage of his property and stole valuables and used his equipment and gear.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police launched a search of the area inside the campsite in July 1990, after Denise advised them that she learned Charles had been camping at the campground. The RCMP retrieved some of Charles' clothing and a shaving bag from a 1989 Tiny Town resident.

During her many, many visits to Canada in search of her son, Denise met up with the campground caretaker and was given items belonging to Charles – a a rosary, a tiny red paper Bible and a leather strap from Charles' boot which had been kept in the shed for more than a year.

The manager said that Charles' tent, other belongings, personal photographs and his ID had been thrown away in the Spring of 1990.

Constable Kris Clark then said "There's obviously concern after so many years of not being in contact with somebody, whether it's a recovery at this point or not."

But upon retrieving the clothing and shaving bag they are said to have told Denise they believe Charles is deceased and most likely from foul play. No further details were provided. However, in an official RCMP statement they indicated that the statement was unfortunate and that the sediments were most likely simply a personal opinion and not one that the RCMP held at the time.

On a trip to Canada in March 1992, Denise received two anonymous letters delivered by taxi whilst staying at The Pandosy Inn Motel, detailing how her son had been partying at Tiny Tent Town with locals and had gotten into a fight where he was subsequently killed. His body was then dumped into Lake Okanagan.

This led local volunteer divers to go into Lake Okanagan and search for three days. Vancouver based 'International Sea Search' (ISS) aided with a submersible camera and its volunteer team to search beneath the old Floating Bridge for a further three days.

The RCMP joined the search on day five of the six day search.

On Friday 3 April 1992 while the RCMP Divers were not present, ISS located a male body and the police were called. The RCMP attended the scene later and their divers went into the lake, recovered the body and brought it to the surface. It was believed to be that of an elderly gentleman who had committed suicide at the lake seven years earlier and not Charles.

Police have dismissed the notes as some sort of practical joke, according to the CBC.

Denise believes her son died in May of 1989. "How and by what means I don't know but something terrible happened to him that prevented him from calling home," she said. "I want to know where his remains are. I want him to be laid to rest with his beloved Nana in Cambridge, England.”

In September of 1995, the police found a decomposed body in the logging country around Kelowna. Horvath-Allan's family waited for six weeks to be told that the body found was not of their son. At that time, the police hadn't contacted Mrs. Allan or any family member about the find of the dead body; the family were informed via friends and relatives who had seen reports in the local press.

Denise has made frequent trips to Kelowna to search for her son Charles, meet with police, hand out posters, talk with employers and residents in the city and across Canada. She sold her hair and beauty salon to finance the ongoing search and air fares to Canada and in 2010, she rented billboard space with posters appealing for information. Since Charles' disappearance, his father, godfathers and grandparents have died and each year, Denise feels time slipping away.

Denise was doing her own investigating as she felt there was no movement with the police on the file.

In 2013 Denise met with police and pleaded with them to assign the case to a cold case unit. They did not provide an official answer and Denise created a petition as she believes it is the only way the case will be resolved.

In 2015, the RCMP officially claimed that Charles was deceased. But they were no closer to finding where his remains are, what had happened to him, or who did what to him.

In 2018, Denise, along side RCMP presented a press conference in reference to Charles's disappearance.

“It was a struggle to get back here for me but things have changed and I’ll be back. A few people have given me the courage and adrenaline to not stop coming back so I will until the day I die,” Denise told reporters.

Seven years ago police told her that there were six areas in which they would be looking for Charles, but she learned that police had not fulfilled their promise. They had not even investigated one of the six. But during her trip in 2018 a new case worker told Denise that these would be followed up on and it is unclear if they have. Police asked Denise to stop her own investigating and to let them handle it from here on out.

A reminder: it is going on past 30 years...

Because this is an open investigation, there is very little details the police have provided besides what was presented here. We do know that Charles attended a late night party that evening at the campground and eye-witnesses place him there. They also state that in the morning, they found he was no longer at the campground, but left all his belongings including his personal items and valuables.

The campground has been known to attract a criminal element and the dregs of society with drug addiction very prevalent. It is speculated that Charles may have gotten into a fight with someone or he was misled by someone that ended his life.

The mysterious note that was provided anonymously, which the police dismiss, is interesting, however. How did this scribe know that Charles was at this campground, that there was perhaps a fight and he was knocked out. Did the assailants mention they were going to toss his body in the lake, but then changed their mind and buried him in the forested area?

Without a body, we will never know.

If you know anything about what happened to Charles Horvath, call Sgt. Paul Gosling of the Kelowna Serious Crime Unit at (250) 762-3300.

If you want to remain anonymous, you can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or leave an online tip at www.crimestoppers.net

You can also visit our Facebook Page for photos and information. Denise also runs a Facebook page specifically for finding Charles and we will provide that link in the show notes.

If you know anything at all, send in an anonymous tip and let's end the nightmare for this mom.

More Episodes


The Haunted Old Idaho State Penitentiary Part Three

Season 6, Ep. 15
Welcome to Unsolved Mysteries of the World Season 6 Episode 15, The Old Idaho Penitentiary Part IIIIn the 1940s and 1950s the Idaho Penitentiary again was suffering from overcrowding and a new cell house was constructed. Cell Block #5 held the worst of the worst with maximum security cells, a death row, its very own indoor gallows and drop house.This housing unit is rumoured to be the most haunted of all the buildings on the property, even though, only one official hanging took place within. It was also that last State sanctioned execution in Idaho taking the life of Prisoner # 9509 Raymond Allen Snowden in the most unethical way.On the evening of September 23rd, 1956 Cora Lucille Dean drove to the Hi-Ho Club in Garden City, where she intended to have a few drinks and play the slot machines. Here she met a young man named Raymond Snowden who she found no only attractive, but fun to be around. When the two had a few drinks, Snowden wanted to take things a bit further and pressured Cora. When his advances were denied he threatened Cora in a frightening manner asking her to choose between rape and death. Cora obviously taken aback chose neither and that made Snowden angry who produced a pocket knife and stabbed Cora 29 times.The body, which was found the next morning by a paper boy, was viciously and sadistically cut and mutilated. An autopsy surgeon testified the voice box had been cut, and that this would have prevented the victim from making any intelligible outcry. There were other wounds inflicted while she was still alive — one in her neck, one in her abdomen, two in the face, and two on the back of the neck. The second neck wound severed the spinal cord and caused death. There were other wounds all over her body, and her clothing had been cut away. The nipple of the right breast was missing. There was no evidence of a sexual attack on the victim; however, some of the lacerations were around the breasts and vagina of the deceased.Snowden took the dead woman's wallet hailed a passing motorist and rode back to Boise. There he went to a bowling alley and changed clothes. He dropped his knife into a sewer at a Cigar Shop and threw the wallet away. Then he went to his hotel and cleaned up again. He put the clothes he had worn that evening into a trash barrel outside the hotel.Police narrowed in on Snowden almost immediately as eye-witnesses pointed out that Snowden had left with Cora that evening from the Hi-Ho Club. Police also, remember Snowden from a previous encounter as to which he boasted he was going to sever the spinal cord of his then girlfriend because she was irritating him.They found the weapon, the same one they remember him previously threatening with, still covered in blood in a sewer grate near Hannifin's Cigar Shop. Another eye-witness placed Snowden there and that was enough for an arrest to be made.During the trial it was brought to the attention of the media that Snowden had boasted of two other murders, but they were never confirmed. A detective magazine at the time dubbed Snowden, "Idaho's Jack the Ripper" in view of the viciousness of the crime.Snowden was found guilty and sentenced to death. He took up residence in Death Row with his door in view of the indoor gallows to which he would make his way to on October 18th, 1957.At 12:05 he was brought into the gallows room and met with the Chaplain. The noose was placed around his neck and the witnesses in the viewing room got their first look at Snowden. The door sprung just 45 seconds later. Down went Snowden and the crowd gasped. It seems the Warden and those responsible for carrying out the deed did not measure Snowden's height or weight, and s such the counter-weight was not calculated correctly. Snowden fell, but he did not break his neck instantly. Instead, in the catch room, he struggled and swung about for 15 minutes until he finally died. Some say it was an oversight, while others believed the authorities did this on purpose to make Snowden's death one of suffering.Snowden's hanging was the last of a total of ten men to occur at the prison and his body was buried in an unmarked grave on prison property. Some believe that Snowden haunts his Cell, Cell Block #5 and the hanging room. But Snowden may not be the only soul still doing time at the Pen. There are a total of 129 recorded deaths within the walls.Due to overcrowding and the treatment of prisoners serious riots occurred in 1952 and again in 1971. The 1973 riots proved to be the end of the Old Idaho Penitentiary as riots burned down several buildings and damaged others beyond repair. The 416 resident inmates were moved to the new Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise and the Old Idaho Penitentiary was closed on December 3, 1973, never to see another living soul imprisoned behind its stone walls.If you are interested in the Old Idaho State Penitentiary you can visit them daily where tours are conducted by volunteer staff. Special events around Halloween turn the prison into one goulish haunted attraction. More recently, the Pen has been giving Paranormal Investigation Tours.Special thanks to all those volunteering to keep such a historic gem alive. Thank you to the Idaho State Historical Society for their excellent resources and dedication. We will attach a bonus episode that was produced by the staff of the Idaho State Pen with funding from the Idaho State Historical Society.It focuses in on the prison's only double hanging. If you like what you hear, head over to their youtube page to see additional videos.We will leave you now with the words and memories of prisoners and staff from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary.Until Next Time.....Be good.