BC RCMP profiles 3 missing teens on National Missing Children’s Day May 25

Sicamous, Mission, Prince George

2015-05-25 10:37 PDT

File # Missing Children's Day

Since her 17-year-old son Jeff disappeared eight years ago in Mission, Dawn Surtel and her husband can’t help but look at every tall skinny boy they see, who looks like their son.

Guy and Annette Richard’s son Matthew, was 16 when he went missing 15 years ago, hitchhiking near Sicamous, BC. “I know it doesn't look good after all this time, but you never completely lose hope. You never know,” says Guy.

And in Prince George, 14-year-old Lucas Degerness disappeared eight years ago, after a meeting at his school with his mother Gina, and the vice-principal. “Not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought of you, Luke and asked myself where you might be,” says Gina.

The BC Police Missing Persons Centre is profiling the three investigations on National Missing Children’s Day, in the hopes that increased public attention may prompt new tips. The RCMP does not believe the investigations are linked, but chose to profile these missing teens based on input from the lead investigators in each file.

Jeff Surtel, missing from Mission BC since April 28, 2007

Jeff Surtel left the family home in Mission BC after being grounded from the computer for a week, a consequence of his grades falling on his last report card. He took with him his distinctive CCM blue mountain bike with yellow forks.

“I dream about him all the time,” says Dawn Surtel. “He is always around the age of 12. I think I dream about him young, because I can’t move forward….I can only look back.”

Photo of Jeff Surtel, age 17.

Photo of Jeff Surtel, age enhanced.

At the time of his disappearance his father described him as a quiet boy, who spent a lot of time at home – and was interested in programming computers. But his mother adds that Jeff also loved camping and fishing, and said for the most part things seemed to come easily for Jeff, such as baseball and skiing.

She confesses that Jeff’s disappearance has “pretty much ruined our lives.” After he went missing one of the first dreams she had of Jeff was him coming to their bedroom with a big grin on his face, and telling her and her husband how much he missed them, and that he even missed his brother Rob.

“We miss you Jeff and love you and we are still waiting for you to come home…”

Police have followed up on several leads and possible sightings, but despite this work Jeff remains missing. Jeff Surtel is Caucasian, and at the time of his disappearance was 17, 6’1” tall, and weighed 150 pounds with medium length brown hair, brown eyes, and with glasses. He was last seen wearing dark coloured jeans, a navy coloured t-shirt and a blue hooded sweater.

A photo of Jeff at age 17, as well as an age-enhanced photo, is attached.

Matthew Richard, last seen near Sicamous BC, October 30, 1999

Matthew Richard and an acquaintance had been hitchhiking between Canmore and Vancouver, and had stopped at the Skyline Truck Stop, 28 km east of Sicamous. Despite the cold snowy, weather, Matthew reportedly left a truck without his jacket sometime on the morning of October 30, 1999.

“Not a day goes by that I don't think of Matthew. Every day on my way to and from work I cross the Trans Canada Highway, and every time I look to the West and think of Matthew. Because that's the direction he went last,” says his father Guy.

Photo of Matthew Richard, age 16.

“He was so young. He was just a kid; he hadn't even had a chance to figure out what his goals were. He loved drawing and art. I always made sure my kids knew I would support them in whatever goals they set for themselves. He could have been doing anything by now."

Investigators have conducted extensive ground searches and dive searches based on tips and leads that have surfaced. Those who last were in contact with Matthew have been interviewed, and neighbourhood inquiries conducted, as well as all tips followed up thoroughly.

Matthew Alan Richard was 16 when he disappeared, 6’1” and 175 pounds. He had blonde hair and blue eyes, and also had a chipped and darkened front tooth. A photo of Matthew, aged 16, is attached.

Lucas Degerness, last seen June 7, 2007 in Prince George

Lucas and his mother Gina met with his vice-principal the morning of June 7, following concerns about his performance in school. After the meeting Lucas was asked to return to class, but never did. That meeting was the last time his mother saw him.

Lucas spent the night of June 7 with a friend, but has not been seen since. Following his disappearance RCMP investigated many possible sightings in the Prince George area, and searched the Hudson Bay Slough in 2010 as a result of information received. Then in 2014 Missingkids.ca received a call from a male identifying himself as Lucas, resulting in significant concern for his safety and well-being. Unfortunately there was no further information to assist in locating him.

“Although you’re a young man now, I still wonder if you’re safe or if you need help, if maybe you need your mom,” says Gina. “I don’t want to have to ask myself these questions every day for the rest of my life….

“It doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past so please call me, or someone who can share the message with me that you’re safe. If anyone sees this and has even the smallest piece of information as to where my son might be or what may have happened to him, please do the right thing.”

She says that she doesn’t want Lucas’s younger sister to spend any further time without her big brother in her life, and that his older brother and sister now have children they want Lucas to meet.
At the time he went missing Lucas was 5’8” tall, 140 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. A photo of Lucas at age 14, and a drawing age enhanced to 19 years, is attached.

Photo of Lucas Degerness, age 14.

Photo of Lucas Degerness, age enhanced.

“Despite the passing of time these cases remain a priority for police. We owe it to the families to review these cases – and all missing persons files - regularly. The RCMP is constantly looking for additional sources of information, or determining if advances in technology may assist investigators in any way,” says Corporal Kelly Risling, acting head of the BC Police Missing Persons Centre.

Please contact the Prince George, Sicamous or Mission RCMP detachments directly if you have any information about these missing boys, or if you want to remain anonymous contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS). Safety tips and information about missing children can also be found at missingkids.ca.

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