A cross border double mystery has been solved. High-tech, CSI-style identification methods and grunt work helped BC Mounties and US officials crack a cold case with the identification of human remains found in Washington. It was discovered the bones are those of a Keremeos man, Miguel Joao Goncalves, who went missing in 2007.
In March of 2012, during the weekly BC and Washington State multi-agency law enforcement meeting, the Osoyoos RCMP was made aware of an unsolved Okanogan County human remains investigation from 2008 whereby a hiker came across skeletal human remains entangled in some riverbank trees along the Okanogan River near Mallot, Washington.
A medical examiner could only confirm that the remains were of a male between the age of 20 and 50 years old and that he had undergone hip replacement surgery.
Over the course of 2012, investigative efforts were made by the Osoyoos RCMP and the Okanogan County Sheriffs including attempts to determine accurate information regarding the implants. Little information was gained as the lot number records from the manufacturer failed to provide any accurate information about their installation.
One year after the RCMP became aware of this Washington file, an investigator with the BC Police Missing Persons Centre (BCPMPC) was conducting a review of historical missing persons cases in the South Okanagan area. During the process, the investigator conducting the review recalled the case of Mr Goncalves and his similar medical procedure. As a result, Mr Goncalves’ medical records were obtained and forwarded to US investigators and medical examiner.
With this new information, a forensic anthropologist was able to confirm that the remains were those of Miguel Joao Goncalves born in 1961. Mr. Goncalves was reported missing by his family in Keremeos in November of 2007. He walked most places and hung around the downtown area of Keremeos and Upper Bench along Hwy 3a where he lived at the Oasis Motel. Miguel usually wore a baseball cap. He spoke with a Portuguese accent and had a mustache and usually a short beard. Miguel was also known to frequent the Penticton area and usually in the downtown core.
Foul play is not suspected in his death.