Reaching out for help: $40 000 reward for information on Sindy Ruperthouse

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Johnny Wylde, Emilie Ruperthouse, Reynolds Ruperthouse, Kathy Ruperthouse and Joan Wylde

Émilie Ruperthouse, Johnny Wylde, Reynolds Ruperthouse, Kathy Ruperthouse and Joan Wylde

Just before Christmas, the Surêté du Québec issued a $40,000 reward for information regarding the whereabouts of missing Algonquin woman Sindy Ruperthouse. The 45-year-old Ruperthouse was last seen in April 2014 at a Val-d’Or hospital, where she was recovering from a beating that left her with three broken ribs.

Over a year and a half later the Ruperthouse family is still looking for closure.

While father Johnny Wylde says that recently the police have been very helpful and involved, this hasn’t always been the case in the handling of his daughter’s disappearance.

Wylde told the Nation that since Ruperthouse went missing in 2014 there have been three different investigators assigned to the case. The first was based in Amos, who the family heard from a couple of times, and then there was an officer from Rouyn-Noranda who they didn’t hear from once. Recently the file was transferred to an investigator in Montreal, who they say calls the family regularly with updates and has even visited Wylde and wife Émilie in their home.

“Now we know what’s going on,” said Wylde. “He calls me almost every week and we can ask him anything. Now we know him. Before, the other investigators, we didn’t even know them, we never saw them.”

While Ruperthouse’s case has been caught up in the whirlwind of the Val-d’Or crisis, Wylde says that her disappearance is a separate matter.

The allegations of abuse against Native women at the hands of SQ officers were brought to light by the Radio-Canada investigative program Enquête, which was originally looking into the lack of action over Ruperthouse’s disappearance and when it uncovered the allegations by her friends against SQ officers.

“What’s going on in Val-d’Or is not the same thing as what’s happening with us, in our family,” said Wylde. “But Sindy was friends with those girls in Val-d’Or who talked about the [allegations against] the police.”

It appears the case has gone cold, however. The latest notable update as of December is that the investigation is being treated as a murder rather than a disappearance. The only lead to date involved a tip from a Val-d’Or woman who reported a rotten smell in the bush near a road she regularly travelled.

Wylde says that Montreal police looked into the lead but nothing was found. He plans to check again for himself in the spring.

Ruperthouse refused to implicate her then-boyfriend Lévis Landry or press charges for the physical injuries and beatings she endured on a regular basis. Media reports say he refused to take a lie detector test during police questioning.

When asked by Enquête if he ever raised a hand against Sindy, Landry replied, “Well, hit her just to hit her? No. But having to grab her to throw her outside, yes. At some point the police would show up. They would show up often when I was with her. They had to come several times following this type of incident.”

It’s well documented that Ruperthouse was caught up with alcohol, drugs and prostitution around Val-d’Or in the later part of her life. But those who knew her say she had a strong personality and left an impression on everyone she interacted with.

For someone who was often seen at local bar Le Manoir and women’s shelters such as La Piaule and le Nid, it’s strange Ruperthouse would disappear without contacting her family. Her father said she always kept in touch despite her struggles.

When asked how the family was coping, Wylde forced a laugh before saying, “It’s difficult.”

He acknowledged support from many people and organizations over the past year and a half, including the Cree Nation, the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association and from the Chief and Councillors in Pikogan.

“We try to listen to people and what they say to us,” he said. “We have a lot of support but it’s so quiet in the house, it’s too difficult. Sometimes if there’s nobody here we go outside, we go in town, ride around. Almost every weekend we go for a drive. Sometimes we go to Val-d’Or just in case we see her. Sometimes we even go to Montreal. We go everywhere, looking. That’s just the way we live right now.”

The $40,000 reward for information regarding what happened to Ruperthouse or where she may be found was contributed by an anonymous donor and is being administered by Sun Youth Financial.

“The purpose of the poster and the reward is to remind people that in this particular investigation the police still need their help,” said Sun Youth communications director Tommy Kulczyk. “When the picture comes out with the call for information, that little thing you saw that you didn’t think was important might end up being a key piece of information.

“Just imagine it was your sister, your daughter, a member of your family. Everybody who can help should share any information they might have. No piece of information is too small.”

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