Memories came flooding back to Linda Johnson the instant she saw a picture of her mother in a “missing persons” feature. Linda decided it was time for her to do some of her own investigating to see if she could solve the 52-year-old mystery. Unfortunately, she would only find more questions that would break her heart.
In 1935, Lucy Ann Carvell was born in Alaska. When she was a girl, and later a young woman, Lucy traveled around a lot. That was until she met a man from Canada named Marvin Johnson. The two would eventually marry and move to a suburb in Surrey, British Columbia, where they would start their own family. Sadly, having a happy ever after wasn’t in their future.
Lucy and Marvin were the parents to Linda and Daniel. When you looked at them, they were like any other young family. But something dark was hidden on the inside. In September of 1961, Lucy disappeared. Her kids may have been too young to see what was going on, but Marvin’s behavior was a bit suspicious.
It was very odd that Marvin didn’t tell the police about the disappearance until four years after it happened. Obviously the investigators were suspicious and treated it like a homicide, with Marvin being their prime suspect. They spoke to the neighbors and family and they even dug up the backyard. Because there was no body, the case fell through. Marvin wasn’t charged, and the trail died. Lucy was bound to be forgotten.
Eventually, Marvin remarried and he banned the children from speaking about their mother. Soon enough, they had no memories of her. “All I was left with were two little pictures… and one bigger one. That is all I knew of my mother,” said Linda to the Canadian Post. Unfortunately, tragedy just seemed to cling to the family.
Daniel, Linda’s brother, drowned when he was only 20 years old. She only had her father left, at least until he passed away in the 1990s. Linda did everything she could to leave the past and move on with her life. She had given up on finding her mother a long time ago. Decades would pass before she would want to search again.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police ran a feature called “Missing of the Month” in 2013. They highlighted cold missing person cases from all the way back to the 1950s. Linda’s mom was featured in the June issue. As soon as she saw it, her curiosity began to creep back in and she realized she wanted to find the truth. She had no clue where her search would bring her.
After some investigating, Linda found herself at the civil registry’s office, where she found her parent’s marriage certificate. On the paper she found a trail she could jump on: the names and address of her mother’s parents. With clues in hand, Linda decided to take out a strange type of ad.
Marvin and Lucy’s marriage certificate told Linda that before marrying her father, her mother lived in the Yukon territory. She placed a classified ad in the Yukon News. It read, “I am looking for my relatives. My grandparents’ names are Margaret and Andrew Carvell. My mother’s name is Lucy Ann Carvell. She was born October 14, 1935, in Skagway.” It was a long shot for sure, but it would prove to be a good idea.
It wasn’t long after the placement of the ad that the Mounted Police got a phone call from Whitehorse, Yukon. “[A woman] called and claimed that she had seen the picture of the missing person in the free newspapers, and said the missing person we were looking for was actually her mother,” said the spokesman of RCMP, Corporal Bert Paquet. Linda was about to get some crazy news.
The woman who called in was Rhonda Glenn and she was actually Linda’s half-sister. But there was more. Rhonda told Linda that her mother, Lucy, was still alive. This whole time, Linda believed that her mother was murdered those many years ago. But now, she had something entirely different to deal with.
Linda found out that her mother had moved back to Alaska to start a new life. After getting married, she moved to Yukon and had four other children. Linda was grateful to know her mother was alive, but she had one more question: why did Lucy Leave? Linda got Lucy’s phone number from Rhonda, and braced herself for the difficult call.
“I cried when we spoke for the first time. I called her ‘Mom.’ I almost didn’t know what to say,” said Linda. After realizing that she wasn’t angry with Lucy, Linda decided to fly to Yukon to see her mother, and meet the entire family she didn’t know she had.
Linda and Lucy recognized each other instantly at the airport. “It was, like, surreal because I could see my face in her face and her eyes in my eyes,” recalled Linda. But they couldn’t ignore the painful truth. “She told me that my dad was really abusive to her and that he was running around with other women,” explained Linda. But why did she abandon her children?
Linda was told by her mother that Marvin had kicked her out of the house one day. She attempted to return for her children, but Marvin stopped her. Her only option was to leave. Linda stayed in Yukon for a week having emotional conversations with her mother. Linda was going to make up for all that time lost.
After spending time with her family, Linda thought about moving there to be with her 77-year-old mother. She was so excited to have a family, and they were excited, too! “[I] always wanted an older sister. I am just happy Linda knows her mother is alive now. I feel so badly for her, for what she missed,” said Rhonda.