Three year anniversary of Owen Rooney’s disappearance from Grand Forks on Aug. 14, RCMP does DNA searches

Three years ago, Australian Owen Rooney disappeared from Boundary Hospital in Grand Forks and his family is still searching.

Owen Rooney went missing from Boundary Hospital in Grand Forks three years ago and hasn't been found.

The third anniversary of Australian Owen Rooney’s disappearance is Aug. 14 and while his family is still actively searching, it is trying to find a sense of normalcy.

The family, including sisters Bree and Kelly Rooney, canvassed B.C. and Alberta after Owen’s disappearance but have since returned to Australia.

“We have had some time to return our lives to looking normal again,” explained Kelly Rooney, who has begun teaching again. “We still live each day with Owen close to our hearts and do what we can to continue the search for him without allowing it to consume our entire lives. We all miss Owen dearly in our lives. I had my 30th birthday party with a big group of friends and family, we had lamb on the spit on a sunny winter afternoon. Owen would have loved it and he was very missed.”

“We are continuing our search for Owen with the help of the social media via Facebook and our website (www.find-owen.com). We are living our life alongside this and working everyday to be happy within our life. We have come to a place of trust that Owen will return to us if he can and we work to have all doors open for him to do that,” explained mother Sharron Rooney, who is working on natural healing therapy.

Other sister Bree is at university, doing a double degree in fine arts and teaching while brother Sean and father Steve are back doing electrical work according to Sharron and Kelly.

While both Sharron and Kelly have said contact with the RCMP has been reduced with their return to Australia, there has been increased media coverage in Australia as Missing Persons Week in the country was between July 28 and Aug. 3.

“The idea is it’s not illegal to go missing. It is thrown around in such a thoughtless way. From our interactions with other families of missing persons I have never heard of or met a person who just decided to go missing,” Kelly explained. People do not go missing without reason. There is always something wrong and it is often related to a mental health issue be that depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, psychosis. These people are at risk and need to be helped. The issue of missing people needs to be treated more urgently. We have also found that we were faced with the response of limited resources. I feel that if the attitude towards missing people changes from the opinion that it is a person at risk rather than a person making an informed choice of stable mind then there might be seen to me a greater need for additional funding, support and resources invested into these life-changing situations.”

Kelly believes there wouldn’t have been as much action on Owen’s case had they not stayed in Canada but Grand Forks RCMP’s Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison said the file is still open and there has been a lot of effort spent trying to locate the missing man.

“We’ve not received any tips recently but we do follow up on every single one that does come in, no matter what the tip is, we follow it up to a logical conclusion,” Harrison told the Gazette. “We will be doing a media blitz through our RCMP website in regards to marking the anniversary of his disappearance. Grand Forks Search and Rescue (SAR) has indicated to us that when they do practices, they continue searching in areas that previously haven’t (been) searched – we do have an active map of all the areas that were searched.”

RCMP, SAR and volunteers have searched over 27 square kilometres on the ground, in sometimes rough terrain, according to Harrison.

“We have recently had his DNA searched against all the American databases for unidentified human remains that have been found in the United States,” Harrison explained. “That has to be done on an annual basis – we have to actually request it, they don’t do it automatically.”

Harrison said similar DNA searches have been done across Canada and the Coroner’s Service of B.C. also carries a full DNA profile of Owen Rooney on its database.

The case is still active and will remain active until Owen Rooney is found or until the Australian will be anticipated to reach 100 years of age – he was 24 years of age in 2010.

Rooney was last seen at Boundary Hospital in Grand Forks in 2010 – he had suffered a head injury two days earlier – and left behind his cellphone and backpack.

He stands 175 cm (5’9”) and weighs about 73 kg (161 pounds).

At the time of his disappearance he had short brown hair and he has two tattoos, one of a circle with a Celtic star on his left shoulder blade and another of a triangle and a kangaroo on his right calf.

Anyone with information can call Grand Forks RCMP at 250-442-8288.

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