It’s been more than decade since 19-year-old Angel Carlick went missing and was found dead, six months later, in a wooded area in the Pilot Mountain subdivision north of Whitehorse.
The circumstances surrounding her death remain a mystery.
“She just took a piece when she left,” Santana Taylor told the Star Tuesday.
“Angel was my best friend, more like a sister, most of my life.
“And then for us not to know who the hell did it, like, that person’s still walking around out there.
“It’s not easy for any of us.”
The Yukon government announced with its 2018-2019 budget that it’s funding the creation of a Historical Case Unit.
The RCMP “M” Division will receive $442,000 annually, for the next three years, to investigate unsolved homicides and cases of missing persons.
Three additional, full-time RCMP officers will be charged with this work.
“Our goal is to bring these investigations to successful conclusions, and ultimately, to provide answers to the families of the victims,” Yukon RCMP Chief Supt. Scott Sheppard said in a statement released Tuesday.
Since 2000, there have been 35 homicide investigations in the Yukon.
Criminal charges have been laid in 23 of them.
Twelve homicides are unsolved, and are the subject of ongoing criminal investigations.
The new unit will review every unsolved homicide and missing persons case in the territory that the RCMP has on file, “with a proactive lens with the goal of surfacing fresh investigative avenues,” according to an emailed statement attributed to Insp. Keith MacKinnon, the Whitehorse RCMP detachment commander.
“After a review of each file, decisions to proceed will be based on the suitability and assessment of the evidence available.”
Both Angel's death and the 2017 death of her mother, Wendy Carlick, are classified by the RCMP as homicides.
Both remain unsolved.
“It doesn’t end for me,” Taylor said. Wendy was “like a mom” to her. But these losses affect a whole community, she emphasized.
“It’s just another case on the shelf, unsolved. There’s so many, it’s just ridiculous. What is this town coming to? When is there going to be any justice?”
According to MacKinnon, barriers to the resolution of unsolved homicides in the territory can include the perishability of evidence, a lack of evidence, or witnesses who are reluctant or unavailable to speak to police.
Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee announced details about the Historical Case Unit in the legislative assembly on Tuesday.
“We are sensitive to the pressures put on the RCMP and other service providers due to the very unusual number of homicides that have recently occurred in the Yukon,” she said in a ministerial statement.
In a subsequent interview with the Star, she pointed out that in 2017 alone, there were eight recorded homicides in the Yukon.
“That’s an extremely unusual number,” McPhee emphasized.
In fact, it’s the highest number of murders recorded in a single year since 1961.
“These resources will go a long way to helping the RCMP conduct their investigations effectively and efficiently,” she told the house.
In addition to investigating historic cases, the new unit will also be available, when necessary, to support the Major Crimes Unit in its work on suspicious deaths.
Its mandate also includes liaising with victims’ families, Yukon First Nations, and community organizations.
This is a critical piece for Taylor. She doesn’t feel the RCMP communicated with her enough about the investigations into the deaths of her loved ones.
“I want to be informed, and want to know what’s going on with this,” if renewed effort will indeed be put into solving Wendy and Angel’s cases, she said.
“I need to have a voice for my sister and my mom.”
The Yukon government and the RCMP will evaluate the success of the Historic Case Unit over the next three years, McPhee told the Star Tuesday.
According to MacKinnon, some indicators of success may include “charges laid, a missing person located, and increased engagement with families.”
NDP Leader Liz Hanson remarked yesterday that “each unresolved homicide – the sudden, violent death of a member of our small Yukon community – resonates deeply.”
She thanked McPhee for announcing resources for the new unit, adding that she hopes the March 1992 murder of her friend and colleague, Krystal Senyk, is being investigated.
Senyk was fatally shot in her Tagish Road cabin. The suspect in her death, Ron Bax, has never been found.
Yukon Party Justice critic Brad Cathers also said his party welcomes the funding investment.
“In fact, the only criticism that we would offer is that the minister has been slow in acting in this area,” he told the house.
The official Opposition raised the issue of pressure on the RCMP last May and again in July, he said, “recognizing that because of the recent spike in the number of homicides, it is placing an unsustainable workload on the RCMP and its members.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of victims of all homicides, including – and especially in this case – those which have not yet been solved.”
Funding for the new unit will start to flow April 1, MacKinnon stated.
“It will take some time to permanently staff this unit with resources that have the appropriate investigative skill set.
“In the interim, we will leverage existing expertise in the Division and will seek expertise to permanently supplement the unit.”