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Smoke on the Asphalt

For decades there has been a stretch of highway in Canada. This highway has a mysterious way of taking people and all that remains is just, smoke on the asphalt. This highway was dubbed The Highway of Tears in 1998. This long road stretches from Prince George to Prince Rupert in British Columbia, Canada. Beginning in the 1970’s the roadway consumed over 80 plus known victims. These are just cases that are known and have connections to the area. On this highway there are said to be people that go missing and are found murdered or are never seen again. The cause for this phenomenon is unknown, just like it's victims. However, many have said that the answers lie in poverty, drug abuse, and an inability obtain their own transportation, highly contribute to this deadly road. There are likely many more. Like with today’s case, a missing family, The Jack Family, as they are better known over the recent years, due to the family's publicity of their disappearances, all vanished on this dangerous highway in Prince George, they were never seen again but does a clue in this twisted story have the answers to what happened to them?

First, I would like to thank Marlene. Sister of Doreen Jack and administrator of the Facebook page that is set up for the Jack family's disappearances. Who I spoke with briefly for this story. I commend her courage and strength for all she has been through. I hope that she gets the answers she's been desperate for, and justice comes for her family.

Doreen Jack was born on April 24, 1963. Little is known about her early life but what is known is that her childhood was full of abuse and mistreatment. Dorreen's mother would drop out of sight, abandoning the family. Her father would often abuse his children physically. Doreen had two sisters, and she always had an instinct to protect them from any harm. She was like a mother to them, always shielding them from what she could. Eventually the children would all end up in residential schools. These schools were run by the government, they were meant to strip Indigenous culture and family traditions. These schools were rampant with all kinds of abuse and mistreatment. Marlene explained when arriving at such school, the siblings were not permitted to speak with each other as the sisterhood they'd known was no more. This environment would slowly break away at the bond they'd shared but they would try and sneak in a quick chat when they knew it was safe to do so. After surviving the hellscape of residential school, the children were sent to a college. It was during this time the abuse only kept coming and Doreen was raped. This assault resulted in pregnancy for Doreen, and she would soon give birth to a baby boy. A boy she named Russell Jack. Doreen was a good mother and did the best she could for Rusell. It wouldn't be too long that a love interest would come into Doreen's life and the rest would be history.

Doreen told Marlene one day that Ronnie asked her to be his girlfriend. Absolutely smitten, she accepted. The family knew Ronnie Jack as they all grew up together. Doreen and Ronnie's relationship quickly blossomed, and she left school be hide and began making a life with Ronnie, and Ronnie excepting Russell as his own. They would later have another son Ryan. When they disappeared Russell Jack, aged 9, and Ryan Jack, aged 4. The biggest issue in their relationship and household was financial and means to provide for the family. They were on welfare and hoped this bump in the road wouldn’t last. Ronnie had been out of work for some time due to a back injury he had sustained previously. The result of this was having very little money to provide for his wife and children. They wouldn’t have to suffer for too much longer as an offer too good to be true would change the Jack family’s life forever.

On August 1,1989, Ronnie Jack was at a local Pub in Prince George called First Litre Pub. He rushed home to tell Doreen he had met a very nice man at the pub that offered him a job, but there was so much more that he could offer. Ronnie tells Doreen he met a guy and he had offered him a short time job offer in a logging camp. When Ronnie told the man he had a family he offered a position to Doreen as well, she would be in the kitchen with the cook, and she could assist at being the cook’s helper. The offer would get sweeter as when Ronnie was speaking to the man, he let the man know that him and his wife also had two children. With that, the man sweetened the deal and said there was a daycare on site at the camp, and they could leave the children there to play during the day while both parents worked. The man told Ronnie that the camp was located in the Clucuz Lake area which was about 40km from Prince George. Ronnie only had one more problem; he didn’t have a car to get the family there. To Ronnie’s surprise, the deal would get even better. The man offered to give the family a ride there but there was a catch, they would have to leave with him that night.

Strip where First Litre Pub sat in 1989

Overcome with excitement, Ronnie rushed home, to tell Doreen what had just happened to him at the pub. At a quarter after 11:00 PM that night, Ronnie phoned his brother and told him what the family had planned to do, which was to accept the job offer and leave with the mystery man that night to the logging camp. A short time after Ronnie called his parents who lived in Burns Lake, B.C. He told all his family that they would be gone for approximately 2 weeks and after that they would be back home, and Ronnie would make sure to get in touch with them. At about 1:30AM on August 2, 1989, neighbors witnessed Ronnie, Doreen and the children climb into the man’s dark colored pick-up truck outside their home on Strathcona Avenue. This was the last time anyone would see or have any type of contact with the Jack family.

Approximately 5 min walk from Litre Pub to the Jack home

After two weeks came and passed, Ronnie’s family started to become concerned about their well-being. On August 25,1989 family members reported the Jack family as missing. At first it seemed like the RCMP treated the case like the family chose to maybe run away from their lives in Prince George. But over the years, everyone seems to be on the same page, that the Jack family did not willingly vanish from existence. The biggest tip in the investigation would come about 7 years after the family disappeared. On January 28, 1996, at approximately 8:30 AM, a man in Stoney Creek B.C. called the Vanderhoof police and stated, “The Jack family are buried in the south end……ranch”. Immediately after these words the caller hung up before any questions were even asked. In March of 1996, the recording was sent to the University of British Columbia to be analyzed. The police would eventually trace the call back to a house in Vanderhoof and realized a house party had taken place during the time the call was made. It is unknown if the caller was ever identified by the police.

Sketch of the suspect that gave Ronnie the offer at the pub

Since then, the RCMP have conducted hundreds of interviews and obtained thousands of documents related to the case. They have also conducted several searches on properties for Ronnie, Doreen, Russell, and Ryan, the most recent being in 2019, with ground-penetrating radar, but nothing was uncovered. The well-known sketch of the suspect was put together by two witnesses, at two separate times. Police consider the man in the sketch the prime suspect in the case. The rumors have swirled around the media, that a brother of a known serial killer is at fault for the families’ disappearance. Famous Candian serial killer Robert Pickton. Some believe the sketch resembles his brother David Pickton. However, there is no such evidence to support this claim. Marlene has been adamant that he is not the suspect in the sketch and that people need to put that theory to rest. All she wants is her family back. She knows they would never have left and be gone this long on their own and everyone suspects foul play.

What happened to the Jack family on the night of August 1 and into the morning of August 2, 1989? There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the family did indeed leave with the man from the pub. As simple as it seems it leaves us with so many questions and very few answers. The couple were in a state of desperation at the time and this offer was their saving grace. I think we all need to look at the first interaction before anything else, the answers lie there. Somehow the man targeted Ronnie, and for a purpose. Most likely the man had no clue Ronnie had or was even going to bring up his wife and children. The fact that the man offered not just a job for him but for Doreen as well, and care for the children so quickly, gives me chills. That means whatever he planned to with Ronnie he was also comfortable doing with a woman and two small children. Everyone at the pub that night noticed the interaction between the two but had never seen the mysterious man before. It is assumed the man wasn't a local but how sure can we be? I think it is possible this man has done something similar either before or after the Jack's. It's disturbing to ponder but it is also a reality. This loss has been gut-wrenching to the families. Someone knows something and all they want is to bring their family members home, where they belong.

Please like & follow the Facebook page set up for the Jack family. Marlene and family need your support.

Also, follow Canada Unsolved

Age Progression done in 2020 of the family

There is also a documentary on the case, called Taken. Season 4, EP 1

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