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The disappearance of Lucy Ann Johnson: Solved after 52 years

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Today I have another solved cold case for you. This concerns the 1961 disappearance of a woman who wasn’t found for 52 more years. Let’s talk about Lucy Ann Johnson.

Lucy Johnson was born Lucy Ann Carvell on October 14, 1935 in Skagway, Alaska. She lived in the cities of Bennet and Pennington for awhile before moving to the Yukon community of Carcross in 1943. In 1953, she left Carcross and didn’t really talk to her family much after that.

In 1954, Lucy married Marvin Johnson. Shortly after getting married, the couple settled in Surrey in British Columbia, Canada. Lucy worked at a hospital for awhile that year, but I couldn’t find any more information about employment for her. Marvin worked on a tugboat for awhile, but I don’t know how long that lasted. The couple soon welcomed two children: Daughter Linda and son Daniel.

Marvin reportedly had a temper and liked to drink. Linda would later say she didn’t remember her father ever being violent, but that he was “apparently” physically abusive toward her mom. I know those details are kind of vague, but they might be important later.

Lucy was last seen by a neighbor in September 1961 but not reported missing by Marvin until May 14, 1965. When police learned from a neighbor that Lucy hadn’t been seen in years, they confronted Marvin who admitted he hadn’t seen his wife since 1961 either.

At first, police suspected foul play. After neighbors reported seeing Marvin digging in his backyard — reportedly for a septic tank — they searched the backyard. However, they didn’t find anything, and were never able to gather enough evidence to charge Marvin with a crime. At some point, they took DNA from the couple’s children and periodically compared it to unidentified bodies, but there were never any matches.

After his wife’s disappearance, Marvin was reluctant to talk about her. He eventually remarried and, after the marriage, Linda and Daniel weren’t allowed to talk about their mother at all.

Sadly, Daniel drowned in his late teens. Linda, who had been about seven when her mother disappeared, went on to marry and have five children and ten grandchildren. She eventually came to believe that her mother was dead. By 2013, the disappearance of Lucy Ann Johnson was one of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s oldest cold cases.

On July 2, 2013, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (or RCMP) featured Lucy’s case on their “Missing of the Month” series with hopes of getting new information. After this, Linda, now in her 50’s, decided to take action on her own.

Because she knew her mother was from Alaska, she took out an ad in the Yukon News. The ad included Lucy’s name as well as her birth date, place of birth and the names of her parents — Linda’s grandparents. Linda also gave her e-mail address in the ad. And it didn’t take long for something to come of this.

Just a couple of weeks later, a woman in Whitehorse in the Yukon got a call from her brother at work. Rhonda Glenn was told by her brother, Howard, that he’d seen an interesting ad in the paper. The woman who’d placed the ad was looking for her mother — who had the same name as their mother.

At first, Rhonda assumed this woman must have been adopted, and Lucy was her biological mother. She called Lucy Ann Johnson, who was now 77, and told her she’d seen a missing persons report for her in the paper. Lucy replied: “I’m not missing. I’m here.” Rhonda also contacted Linda and, once she realized they were involved, she called the RCMP on July 16.

Lucy Ann Johnson was alive and well. She’d stayed in British Columbia until about 1980 before moving to the Yukon, where she was found in 2013. She had remarried and had four more children, and claimed she’d never really been purposefully hiding. After she was found, her former husband, Marvin (who had died in the 1990’s), was officially cleared of all charges in her disappearance.

But now that her mom had been found, Linda had to deal with the aftermath. She claimed to have no hard feelings toward her mom, but hoped she would want to be part of her life and get to know the grandchildren she’d never met. On July 18, she told the Surrey Now-Leader: “I have a lot of questions and they’re all ‘whys?” And: “I just hope I can be part of her life.”

Later that month, Linda got to talk to her mother on the phone for the first time in decades. At first, it was awkward. Linda didn’t know what to say and Lucy still seemed to be in shock at the situation. But ultimately, Linda claimed the conversation went great.

In September 2013, Linda flew to Whitehorse to visit Lucy and her family. She later claimed Lucy recognized her right away because she looked so much like her half sister Rhonda.

But parts of the visit were unpleasant. While there, Linda asked her mom point blank why she left. Lucy claimed Marvin was abusive and cheated on her frequently. She left and tried to take her kids, but Marvin refused to let her. As Linda would put it:

“She said that he told her to get out, and she went back to get us, but my dad said, ‘You’re not taking the kids’ and that was the end of that. She never tried again after that.”

Rhonda said she also got the impression Lucy left because of domestic violence, but Lucy never talked about it much. During the visit, Linda also had to break the news to Lucy that her oldest son, Daniel, had died.

I couldn’t find many updates on the situation after this. Linda and Lucy stayed in touch and, as of October 2013, Linda was planning another visit to Whitehorse and even considering moving there.

So that’s all I have for you today on the solved disappearance of Lucy Ann Johnson. This is a case that’s been hotly debated online, and there are obviously a lot of emotions behind it. I understand why the family might not want too much media attention on what is no doubt a sensitive issue, but I hope they’re all doing well now.

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