Crystal Dunahee

Dunahees share story of lost son

New book touches on struggles and continued hope, now 22 years after Michael disappeared

March 24, 1991 was an ordinary Sunday morning in the Dunahee household.

Bruce and Crystal packed up their children, baby Caitlin and four-year-old Michael, and headed toward Blanshard elementary school where Crystal was set to play a round of touch football.

When they arrived, Michael wanted to play on his own within sight at a nearby playground – something his parents hadn’t let him do before.

“He disappeared from sight in a split second and within the time that Bruce looked down to put Caitlin in the buggy, to when he looked up again, Michael had gone,” said Valerie Green, author of the first authorized book written about Michael’s disappearance.

“It’s the story of what happened when Michael Dunahee was presumably abducted and how his family has survived almost 22 years without knowing.”

Michael’s abduction was the first child-stranger abduction in Victoria. Drawn from interviews with family, friends and the Victoria police, Vanished: The Michael Dunahee Story deals with the family’s struggles since Michael went missing, the media challenges and the impact on Caitlin, who grew up in the wake of the abduction.

“We sat with Valerie before beginning and we felt she would represent the family in an understanding, compassionate way,” said Crystal Dunahee, who has rejected previous offers to tell her family’s story as a movie.

“You know when it’s the right time and from what I’ve read so far, it’s very well put together.”

Dunahee also hopes the book will lay to rest some of the misinformation published about her family over the years.

“Even after all this time, it still catches me,” said Dunahee, who lives in Esquimalt. “It’s still fresh no matter how many years go by. It’s still an open wound.”

Since 1991, child services agencies have become more interconnected, noted Dunahee, a recipient of the Order of British Columbia for her work as president of Child Find B.C. and Child Find Canada.

“If your child does go missing, you don’t have to reach out to every single agency that assists with missing children,” she said. “That was the most heart wrenching thing I had to do.”

The book, Green said, is written in the spirit of hope.

“It’s a cold case, but it’s still active. That seems incredible after almost 22 years,” said the Saanich-based writer. “I was surprised that even the police are hopeful, without evidence to the contrary. There’s never been a body found. There’s no actual crime scene.”

“You never know,” Dunahee said. “(Michael) just might pick up the book himself and realize this is the story of his life that’s missing.”

Vanished will be available from local bookstores this month for $18.95, with half of the proceeds to support Child Find B.C.

“Hopefully it’s a lot safer world, but at the same time, I think it’s taken away a lot of the freedom for children to be able to go out and play, which is a shame,” Green said.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Child Find B.C. benefit

Keep the hope alive for Michael Dunahee, his family and all missing children during a gala fundraiser for Child Find B.C., Nov. 30 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the CFB Esquimalt Wardroom, 1586 Esquimalt Rd. Tickets are available by pre-purchase only, for $40, by calling 250-382-7311.

 

 

Just Posted

CIVIC ELECTION: Large voter turnout seen in Saanich, Oak Bay

Rec centres as polling places boosts numbers in Saanich, advance voting soars in Oak Bay

Rob Martin is the new mayor of Colwood

Martin will be joined by four new faces on council

Voters in Saanich and Victoria support creation of citizens’ assembly on amalgamation

Group will continue to keep pressure on Victoria and Saanich councils after amalgamation referendum

New faces elected to Greater Victoria school district

Twelve candidates were vying for nine positions

Victoria’s Canada Post workers to begin rotating strikes Monday

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Most Read