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With ‘every lead exhausted,’ RCMP boss makes new Frank Gruben appeal

Chief Supt Syd Lecky, commanding officer of RCMP in the NWT, is seen in June 2023. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
Chief Supt Syd Lecky, commanding officer of RCMP in the NWT, is seen in June 2023. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Nearly two months after Frank Gruben disappeared from Fort Smith, the chief superintendent of NWT RCMP issued a fresh appeal for assistance.

Syd Lecky, who has led RCMP in the territory since last November, used his first in-person briefing with reporters to declare: “I want the public to know and the family to know that if there’s something we can do, we’re going to do it, but we need your help.”

Facing earlier criticism of police involvement in the search for Frank, Lecky said the RCMP investigation had been “exhaustive” and included assistance from “investigative subject-matter experts engaged from national headquarters through to British Columbia.”

But he said the lack of a clear area in which to search for Frank remained a hindrance, given he was last seen on May 6 in Fort Smith itself, and added: “Every lead that has been brought forward has been exhausted.”

“If someone knows anything regarding Mr Gruben’s situation, and why he’s missing, we would love to hear from you,” Lecky said, addressing NWT residents. “You can call any detachment in the RCMP, wherever you are.”



Frank, 30, grew up in Aklavik and moved to Fort Smith to study. His disappearance triggered weeks of searching by community members and efforts to raise a reward for information on his whereabouts.

“It’s not just us at this point. People of the North need to know what happened to Frank,” his brother, Steven, told Cabin Radio earlier this month.

Frank Gruben's mother and brother hold a photo of him in an image uploaded to Facebook last month
Frank Gruben’s mother and brother hold a photo of him in an image uploaded to Facebook in May.

Frank is “a person and he’s loved, and people would like to see him come home, and we’d love to be able to give that to them,” Lecky said at a news conference inside RCMP’s Yellowknife headquarters on Thursday.

“The last phone call I made before coming here was just to see if there’s anything new that I could share. There isn’t, but they are actively working, and they are in touch with family to keep them updated as to what’s going on.”



Legislation not an issue, Lecky says

Meanwhile, Lecky walked back an earlier suggestion from police that the territory’s lack of missing persons legislation was hindering efforts to find Frank.

In late May, RCMP suggested one barrier to their investigation was an inability to access some records related to Frank that might help police understand what was happening on and around May 6.

The majority of Canadian jurisdictions have missing persons legislation that gives police – in extraordinary circumstances, when trying to find someone reported missing – the authority to demand records related to that person.

The NWT has no such legislation. As a result, RCMP said in May, the only way to acquire an order to hand over records would be if there was evidence of criminality.

Where that evidence does not exist, “investigators have to rely on humanitarian requests to the records holders,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to Cabin Radio.

“The responses that the RCMP have received to date,” they added, “have not provided information that advanced the investigation.”

Frank’s family has since campaigned for that legislation to be put in place, and the territorial government says it is on the way.

But Lecky said on Thursday the investigation had, on the contrary, experienced “no hiccups in terms of getting information.”



“As far as this particular investigation, we haven’t had anything that we haven’t been able to overcome in terms of legal challenges. Where our pressures are is information, right now,” Lecky told reporters.

“But there’s always a best practice. Having the legislation in place gives police the best tools to do the job.”

Lecky added that “rumours out there” – apparently referring to posts on Facebook in which residents speculate regarding who might know more about Frank’s disappearance – had been seen by police.

“They’ve been brought forward and we’re addressing them,” he said. “But if there is new information, or information you hadn’t previously shared, we want to hear it.”