Prison break: Convicted murderer escapes corrections facility in B.C.
VANCOUVER -- A convicted murderer has gone missing from the Mission Institution minimum-security prison, corrections officials say.
According to the Correctional Service of Canada, 41-year-old Roderick Muchikekwanape was not accounted for during a routine check at 10 p.m Thursday.
Assistant warden of management services Sheila Bonn with the Mission Institution says Muchikekwanape was last seen at the facility around 7:30 p.m., giving him about a 2.5 hour head start on law enforcement.
Mounties at the Mission detachment were contacted Thursday night. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
“Identifying family, and friends and places of interest for the escaped inmate are part of the initial investigation,” Cpl. Nathan Berze with Mission RCMP told reporters Friday. “We don’t know where he is.”
A message posted on Twitter Friday afternoon by police in Bellingham, Wash., suggested it's possible Muchikekwanape may have crossed the border.
The Bellingham Police Department said there was a sighting of a man matching Muchikekwanape's description at around 7 a.m. in the area of East Sunset Drive and Hannegan Road.
The department posted a photo they believe may show Muchikekwanape at a gas station in Sumas, Wash.
Mission RCMP tells CTV News its officers are working to confirm the validity of the tip.
Muchikekwanape is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder of Kimberly Clarke in Winnipeg in 1998. The mother was killed as she was walking home from a party in the north end of the city.
An autopsy revealed she had been sexually assaulted and beaten. Her body was found near the Redwood Bridge.
Clarke’s family members, including her sister, gave testimony at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in 2017.
“She was not a street person. She was missing and she was murdered. This is as extremely emotionally and physically draining for me as when it had happened. It was horrific and I try not to dwell on it,” Clarke's sister, Darlene, told the inquiry.
“It's like trying to get out of a dark deep pit. My family suffered great trauma, heartbreak, sorrow, shock, loss, disbelief, loneliness, emptiness, pain, depression, anxiety, nightmares, terror and fear and rage.”
Mission Institution has both medium- and minimum-security units.
Bonn says prisoners in the minimum-security unit are free to walk in certain areas during daytime hours.
“The perimeter is clearly defined, but it’s not controlled by a perimeter fence such as razor wire or a tall fence. It’s not restricted with gates that way,” Bonn explained, noting the escapee had been categorized as low-risk.
Muchikekwanape has been in custody for the last 20 years, and had been serving time at Mission Institution for about a year, Bonn said. He had been in a minimum-security facility for about three years.
“We are aware of his history, but at this point in speaking with Corrections Canada and our preliminary information, we don't have anything to suggest he is a threat to the general public,” Berze added.
Mission’s acting mayor is urging people in her community to remain calm as police continue their search.
“We have an excellent relationship with the warden at the prison,” Carol Hamilton told CTV News. “It is just part of living in Mission. We are surrounded by institutions here.”
Muchikekwanape is described as having a medium complexion, weighing 217 pounds and is 6' tall. He has brown eyes and black hair. He was set to become eligible for full parole in August 2023, according to Bonn.
Anyone who sees Muchikekwanape should call 911 right away, Mounties say.
“We are urging the public to not approach him if they see him on the street,” Berze added.