MICHAEL WAYNE DUNAHEE – Abducted March 24, 1991 – CMCC000009LTWH – UPDATED 05.02.2013
MICHAEL WAYNE DUNAHEE
Michael Wayne Dunahee
Date of Birth: May 12, 1986
Missing: March 24, 1991 From: Victoria, BC.
On March 24, 1991, Michael Wayne Dunahee disappeared from a playground in Blanshard Park, Victoria, BC. His family was visiting the park to attend a flag football game Michael’s Mom, Crystal Dunahee, was playing in. Michael asked his father, Bruce Dunahee, if he could go play on the playground about 100 meters from the ball field. Bruce agreed and reminded his son to not wander away from the playground or leave with any other children. Bruce took Michael’s 16 month old sister, Caitlin, to the ball field. 5 minutes later Bruce checked up on Michael, only to find that his little boy was missing and the playground empty. The police were called immediately, but after one of the longest and most extensive searches in Canadian history, there was no sign of Michael at all. Law enforcement received over 11, 000 tips. A reward of $100,000.00 was offered for any information leading to the recovery of Michael. Authorities quickly ruled out Michael’s family as suspects in the little boy’s disappearance. As the days passed without any sign of Michael, his family was faced with the reality that this beautiful little boy may never come home. However, through the nightmare, they refused to give up on the hope that Michael one day may be found, with a powerful reminder in their home where Michael’s room remains the same, and piled with wrapped Christmas and birthday presents, ready for him to come home.
In 2006, several news stations broke the story of a young man, living in the interior of BC, who looked like the age enhancement photos done of Michael, breathing new life into Michael’s case and again putting it in the spotlight. The young man was the same age that Michael would be and was first brought to BC in 1991. Hope was renewed, but not for long. DNA testing was done on the young man, determining that he was not Michael Dunahee.
Michael’s disappearance was surrounded by theory and speculation, all of which was unfounded. The most sensitive theory which turned up, was the theory that Michael was abducted by a satanic cult. There were groups of people that stated it was no coincedence that Michael was abducted when he was, on Palm Sunday, 7 days before Easter, and 7 streets away from Easter Street, and stating that Victoria was the satanic capital of the world. Only adding to this ridiculous theory, was the connection these groups then tried to make to Michelle Smith. Lawrence Pazdor had published a book in 1980, called “Michelle Remembers”, a story about Michelle Smith, his wife, who had claimed to have been given to a satanic cult in Victoria by her mother, as a personal sacrafice to be ritualized for years and prepared for the “Feast of the Beast”. “Feast of the Beast” is a ritual in satanic cults which occurs every 28 years. During this time the cult will groom a virgin bride to be offered to satan on the day of the ceremony. Michelle claimed that she was kept in a dirt cage and tortured for years before the cult gave her back to her mother and told her mother to come back when she could offer a dutiful son. While there are some that do believe this to be a real life story, it has been proven to be a work of fiction. Many ‘facts’ within the book have been proven to be untrue and even impossible, and many more remain highly questionable. The book is nothing more than a good read, and does not have any influence in the disappearance of Michael. When a child vanishes with no evidence as in Michael’s case, there are groups that feel the need to find a more sensational reason behind an abduction. The links between Michael’s abductions and satanic cults are just not factually proven to be there. I know it is hard to accept that someone can steal a child away from their loving family so easily and so quickly, but this does happen. There are very sick and disturbed people in the world we live in that do harm children every day. For Michael, we need to be sure that no lead is goes uninvestigated, but it is also the RCMP’s job to be sure that no time is wasted on leads that are based on nothing more than speculation.
When a case becomes as well known as Michael’s has become, people are desperate to see it end well, which can often lead to a great number of ‘sightings’ of a young man they are hoping is Michael. Common sense can be pushed aside and even the craziest ideas can begin to look valid.
When a young man dubbed as ‘Forest Boy’ showed up in Germany claiming to have spent the last 5 years completely out of touch with civilization, many people began to believe the boy was Michael Dunahee. With the details of his past completely unclear in the beginning of his case, it was easy for people to tie Michael and he together. The boy, first known only as ‘Ray’, appeared on the steps of the Berlin City Hall in Germany claiming that he had lived in the wilderness for 5 years with his father, Ryan, after his mother, Doreen, passed away in a car accident. ‘Ray’ claimed that his father had passed away unexpectedly and he had buried his father in the forest before following instructions to head north using a compass and a map. The young man claimed that it had taken him a week to get to Berlin. ‘Ray’ was very evasive about details of his past, and he baffled law enforcement when he refused to allow his photo to be circulated in media outlets in hopes of finding any remaining family of the boys. ‘Ray’ actually made statements that he had no interest in finding any family. The more law enforcement investigated ‘Ray’s’ story, the more they began to believe that the entire thing was a hoax. When police searched for records of Doreen’s death, they found no female by the name of Doreen having passed away in the last 11 years in a car accident. ‘Ray’ claimed not to remember details from his past, however when assessed by medical doctors, they found no sign of amnesia, or physical or emotional trauma. The doctors did however find that ‘Ray’ was in perfect health. ‘Ray’ was intelligent and coherent, clean, well dressed, well spoken, and calm. This is the biggest red flag of all for me. A child living in the wilderness with no contact with civilization surely would have at least one cavity or display some symptoms of a lifestyle conducive of living in the wilderness for 5 years, yet ‘Ray’ had none of these. Police attempted to locate the grave in which ‘Ray’ claimed to have buried his father, but found absolutely no signs of any
grave. When investigators examined the tent and other supplies ‘Ray’ was carrying with him, they were quickly able to determine that nothing showed the signs of 5 years worth of wear and tear. In fact, the tent and supplies appeared to be fairly new. It did not take much time to identify ‘Ray’, who was actually Dutch boy, Robin Van Helsum, who had disappeared a mere 5 days from Gornau, Germany, before showing up in Berlin. Those who knew Robin have stated that he left his home due to ‘personal problems’ and to ‘start a new life’. Robin’s stepmother was able to identify him and dispute every single thing that Robin had claimed. Authorities had stated that Robin may face a substantial legal bill for all of the hours police wasted investigating his claims. This tale was nothing more than a hoax, and has absolutely nothing to do with Michael’s disappearance.
In early 2009, another lead again renewed the investigation into Michael’s disappearance. Police were called to the Milwaukee home of Vernon Seitz, to do a welfare check after a concerned citizen called stating that he had not been to work at his barber shop in weeks. It was later reported that the last day in which Seitz was seen, he had actually confided to his psychiatrist, Victoria Fetter, that he had killed two children over 40 years ago. He said he had been kidnapped himself from a zoo on June 19, 1959, and was then forced to kill a 14 year old boy while his abductors killed another 13 year old boy in front of him. However, no such crimes were ever reported by Seitz or his family, and no children were missing in the area at that time who fit Seitz`s description. Seitz had confessed to the murders to his therapist while on his death bed. Authorities were granted a search warrant and headed to Seitz’s home. When they arrived, they found that Seitz had passed away from a coronary condition in his home in his bed. What they found all throughout Seitz`s apartment was horrifying. His home was filled with countless drawings, VHS tapes and paintings of little boys, either naked or being sexually tortured or both. Amongst all this, and even more horrifying, were the numerous maps they found of desolated areas and parks. There was a road map of Illinois with 2 locations circled. They also came across 2 children’s shoes, one being a size of 2 ½, another being a size 3 ½, both containing DNA. They found books on cannibalism, a small round bone with the marrow sucked out, brown, blonde and black patches of human hair, rings and necklaces, bondage straps and chains hanging from the rafters of the home, handcuffs, a box full of negatives and a .38 caliber gun. There were newspaper clippings of missing children, and they even found photos and posters of missing children.
There was one child in which Seitz seemed particularly obsessed with, 11 year old Jacob Wetterling. Authorities found video footage of Jacob before he went missing, maps of Jacob’s hometown, and many posters and laminated photos of Jacob. They also discovered a map of Millstream Park, which was near the spot where Jacob was abducted. Jacob was with his brother Trevor, and friend, Aaron, riding their bikes to a local video store at 9:00 PM on October 12, 1989. On the way back home, a masked man suddenly emerged from the wooded area with a gun and forced all of the boys to the ground. He then told Trevor to run and not look back, and then told Aaron to do the same. Aaron did look back however in time to see the man dragging Jacob into the woods. Jacob was never seen or heard from again. During the search for Jacob, his mother met a man offering to help in the search for her son. This man was Vernon Seitz. Seitz told Jacob’s mother that he was a psychic who was also abducted as a child and who offered families of missing children his services. Jacob’s mom declined the help, but records show that Seitz remained in the area for 2 weeks after this encounter.
Another child whose information and laminated photos were discovered was Michael Dunahee. With everything that was found in Seitz’s home, it sure points to a disturbed, evil, monster that was preying on children for years without ever being noticed. Michael’s mother, Crystal, has stated that the name Vernon Seitz is familiar with her, but cannot say if he ever contacted the Dunahee family. Did Seitz abduct and murder Michael, we may never know. With Seitz being deceased, all the questions that are furthered raised regarding his involvement with Michael’s disappearance will remain unanswered.
Michael’s case is one that is known throughout the world. This little boy drew in millions of people, hoping and praying for his safe return. For years Michael’s case remained in the spotlight all over the media. When a child goes missing, garnering the attention that they deserve can at times be difficult thing to do. The families of these children advocate as best as they can to have their children’s case reach as many people as possible. Crystal and Bruce Dunahee were no exception to this rule. From the very began they have fought to bring attention to Michael’s
disappearance, effectively gaining the attention they so needed, and 23 years later they remain devoted to not only finding their son, but helping other families who are living the same nightmare as they are. They have built a legacy for Michael that is unquestionably a powerful movement in bringing attention to missing child cases, and a legacy which keeps Michael’s memory very much alive each and every day.
Crystal went on to serve as the president of Child Find British Columbia, and publicly supported and promoted the Amber Alert program being introduced into Canada. To date, the community from which Michael disappeared, hosts an annual event called the “Michael Dunahee Keep The Hope Alive Fund Run” to raise money for Child Find.
We may never know what happened to Michael Dunahee that March day in 1991. What we do know, however, is that we will never give up on the hope that Michael will one day be found safe and reunited with his family. Until that day comes, the Dunahee family has created many opportunities for citizens to get involved in supporting the programs helping missing children and their families in Michael’s name. Michael’s light shines on, and the comfort and renewed hope he has brought to so many, is incredible and inspiring, and very telling of just how special this little man is. The courage and strength with which the Dunahee family have shown over the past 23 years is overwhelming. Our thoughts are always with the Dunahee family, and I am sure that wherever Michael may be now, he is smiling and so very proud of his family for all they have done in the wake of such a tragedy.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Michael Wayne Dunahee, please contact the Victoria Police Department immediately.
L.E.A. – Victoria Police Dept.
Contact – Det. Don Bland
Telephone Number – (250)995-7258