'I'm being a private investigator': Bernard Grempel's family searching for answers
VANCOUVER -- It’s been three agonizing weeks since Bernard Grempel’s family has heard from him.
“This is so uncharacteristic. We're worried that he's hurt or he's scared or he's in danger somewhere,” said Ettie Shurack, Grempel’s sister.
Grempel, 28, was last heard from on May 14.
According to his bank card and transit pass activities, he went to a 7-Eleven at at 152 Street and 100 Avenue at 8:44 p.m. before boarding the SkyTrain at Surrey Central Station at 10:30 p.m.
He arrived at 22nd Street Station in New Westminster and boarded the 340 bus.
Shurack said that is typically the route he would take to visit their parents, and finding out where he got off transit should have been much easier.
“My parents, from the moment they reported him missing, they said to the RCMP that Bernard gets around by public transit and they said he has a monthly bus card. It took a long time for RCMP to confirm that information,” she said.
She accuses Surrey RCMP of being slow to act and consequently, security footage, which automatically erases itself after a week, is now gone.
“This investigation is a top priority right from the onset. We did receive the report on the 16th. Shortly after that, we took steps to obtain the Compass card information, it's a step-by step process,” said Cpl. Vanessa Munn with the Surrey RCMP.
Shurack said the family has also been doing a lot of police work themselves and then relaying the information to officers, such as looking at his Google Map account and bank activity and canvassing surveillance footage along the 340 bus route to Scottsdale Exchange.
“We're far from detectives, but it feels like I'm being a private investigator,” she said.
She said the family has also been advocating for search and rescue crews to lend a hand and was disheartened when police decided to first deploy a water rescue team.
“They said to us that their theory is that is that Bernard was at risk for self-harm,” Sharack said. “To say that someone who has mental health challenges is (akin to saying) they will commit suicide is very frustrating.”
Surrey RCMP said their officers have been actively investigating Grempel’s disappearance since the beginning and the B.C. RCMP’s Missing Persons Unit has also looked over the file to ensure all the proper steps have been taken.
“We investigate all possible investigative avenues. Some of the difficulty is that we don't know where he goes. So we don't have an exact location to start land searches,” Munn explained. “We've done fan out to multiple homeless shelters. Daily, we're sending out what's called a ‘Be on the Lookout’ to every police officer in the Lower Mainland so that everyone is aware and it's at the forefront of their mind every morning when they're starting their shift. Ultimately our goal is the same as the family: We want him to be reunited with his family and want to bring him home safe.”
Mounties are asking any with information on Grempel's whereabouts, and anyone who was on board the 340 bus at 11 p.m. on May 14, to contact them.
Grempel’s family is also now offering $20,000, double the original reward money, in hopes it will lead to information to bring him home safely.