Who's the Mad Trapper of Rat River? These forensic experts are 'one step closer' to finding out
July marks the 90th anniversary of the arrival of the ‘Mad Trapper of Rat River’ to Canada, who's widely known as a mysterious trapper that shot three RCMP officers during the largest manhunt in Canadian history.
With the help of Indigenous guides, the Mad Trapper was eventually found and killed on the Eagle River, Yukon, on Feb. 17, 1932, according to a news release from Myth Merchant Films.
“This was really the first big electronic media story,” Michael Jorgensen, a producer and filmmaker for Myth Merchant Films in Alberta, said.
“This was the first time radio had gone live to broadcast, this hunt that went on for 49 days in the arctic.”
Despite photos being sent out and thousands of tips from the public, the Mad Trapper’s identity has never been established.
“This has been a very enigmatic and Canadian character and I’ve always been very interested in his origin story. That’s the missing piece,” Jorgensen added.
In 2007, Myth Merchant Films secured permission to exhume the body to conduct an examination of the remains and retrieve leftover DNA samples which was documented in the film Hunt for the Mad Trapper. Now, with the help of forensic specialists, experts are attempting to resume the search for his relatives.
The Mad Trapper of Rat River is exhumed in this recent handout photo. (CP / Matthew Spidell)
David Mittelman, the CEO of Othram, told CTV News Edmonton his team leveraged forensic grade genome sequencing to compile a comprehensive genealogical profile for the Mad Trapper.
“The biggest challenge up front is that here we’re trying to identify someone who is now deceased and it’s been 90 years so the DNA’s not in the greatest shape,” Mittelman explained.
“We’ve built a really good pipeline that can access even the most challenging evidence.”
“We’re one step closer to knowing who he was, why he came here and what his motives were,” Jorgensen added.
'EVERYONE DESERVES A NAME'
So far, Mittelman said they’ve discovered the Mad Trapper has strong familial ties to Sweden and is Swedish-American. The early analysis suggests his lineage hails from the Swedish towns of Hånger, Kävsjö, and Kulltorp, and is potentially linked to the surnames Magnusson and Svensdotter.
To help aid in the investigation, Mittelman is opening it up to the public, asking individuals to submit their DNA to help track down the Mad Trapper’s ancestors.
"If you think this matches your family history and you've participated in a commercial DNA company you can contribute your DNA profile with us,” Mittelman told CTV News.
Mittelman said Othram will use their unique technology to access evidence otherwise inaccessible.
“Everyone deserves a name,” he said.
“It’s never too late to bring people back into the fold and connect them to family members and create a little bit of a closure or close the loop on that investigation.”
“I think if we’re going to identify him it’s gonna be in the next year,” Jorgensen added. “If not in the next year we probably will never know who this individual is.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Ryan Harding
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
U.S. President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to congratulate his election win and the two leaders plan to meet in person soon, the White House and Prime Minister’s Office said in statements on Tuesday.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the 2021 federal election, he said it was because he thought Canadians should have their say about where the country is going. Well, voters have spoken, and it's another minority Liberal government. With an almost identical House of Commons heading to Ottawa in terms of seat distribution, leaders are now facing post-election questions about their futures.
Many older voters, parents with young children and Canadians with disabilities didn't vote because of long lineups at their voting sites, with Elections Canada apologizing for the wait but saying there was little else they could do in a pandemic.
Autopsy results have confirmed that the remains found Sunday in the Bridger-Teton National Forest are those of Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old woman who disappeared while on a trip exploring national parks with her fiancé, according to the FBI in Denver.
While Canadians didn't have to wait too long on election night to find out who will lead the next government, there are still several individual seats too close to call and it could take a few days to get clear results with many mail-in ballots still to be counted.
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says he's triggered a review looking into his party's election loss, underscoring that he's committed to making sure the Tories are battle-ready for the next one.
Tyler Shandro is no longer Alberta's health minister as part of Premier Jason Kenney's cabinet shuffle on Tuesday afternoon.
CTVNews.ca looks at some of the biggest surprises of election night, including the ouster of three cabinet ministers.
OPINION | Don Martin: Sooner or later in this status quo mandate, Justin Trudeau will take his walk in the snow
It might take a year or longer before it becomes clear to him, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will eventually realize he’s finished, Don Martin writes in his exclusive column for CTVNews.ca.
Premier Jason Kenney swapped Tyler Shandro and Jason Copping's portfolios in a mid-afternoon cabinet shuffle Tuesday.
A Calgary man wanted on a sexual assault case involving a 13-year-old girl has been captured.
Kevin Stanfield has been named the weekday weather anchor and chief meteorologist for CTV Calgary News at 5, 6 and 11:30, succeeding the venerable David Spence, who is retiring after more than 40 years at the station.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says “it’s unfortunate” that people who attended the People’s Party of Canada election headquarters in Saskatoon flaunted the province’s mask mandate.
A Saskatoon man says his polling station wasn’t set up for him to enter in his wheelchair despite being led to believe it was accessible.
Following an investigation by the Saskatoon Police Service sex crimes unit, a 60-year-old man has been charged with sexual assualt.
From stolen urinal attempts to missing soap dispensers, washrooms in Regina schools have become the target of the latest TikTok challenge.
Saskatchewan broke its record for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, marking the third straight day the province has done so.
After yesterday's election, Premier Scott Moe is calling the election “pointless” and wants Justin Trudeau to get to work addressing the real issues facing Canadians.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is vowing to get 'back to work,' after being dealt a second minority government in the 2021 federal election that looks much like the one Canadians elected in 2019.
Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 65 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, along with 40 recoveries, as the number of active cases in the province rises to 509.
'I don't want to see other people go through it': Growing pressure on N.S. government to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health-care workers
With mandatory vaccines looking more and more likely for healthcare workers in Nova Scotia, union reps say government will have to provide alternatives for workers who can't -- or won't -- get the shot.
Police are investigating after possible human remains were found in a wooded area of Surrey, B.C., this week.
The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals continued to climb on Tuesday, adding to the pandemic's ongoing strain on health-care resources that has already resulted in hundreds of delayed surgeries in recent weeks.
A woman was allegedly beaten by two maskless SkyTrain passengers this week after asking them if they had masks to wear.
Proof of the COVID-19 vaccination is soon to be the new normal across Ontario and for some of the major hubs in the northeast region, it’s key for their employment.
North Bay Police and the city’s French Catholic school board are responding to a cellphone video that shows a group of students shouting anti-Semitic slogans on a school field.
The federal election Monday night still has some drama for voters in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Manitoba government is once again extending the state of emergency that was put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this could be the final extension.
At the end of the day Monday, one Manitoba riding remained unclaimed in the federal election. That result has not changed late Tuesday afternoon.
A group of West St. Paul residents are blocking the East Holmes road access point along the North Perimeter Highway in protest.
There are now 5,282 active COVID-19 cases in B.C., including 619 active cases in the Vancouver Island region.
Saanich police say a man has been arrested after a sexual assault aboard a BC Transit bus.
BC Hydro says it's still hard at work repairing damage to underwater cables that bring electricity to Vancouver Island.
Add your vaccination status to your iPhone in three easy steps.
Environment Canada is warning that some parts of the city could see up to 75mm of rain and that thunderstorms and flooding are a possibility.
Ontario's vaccine certificate program comes into effect tomorrow and there are some important things to know about how it will work.
Quebec considering special law to prevent anti-vax protesters from blocking access to hospitals, schools
Quebec premier François Legault said it’s 'unacceptable' that people have been protesting against the vaccine passport outside hospitals and schools recently and said the province could turn to the law to put an end to these demonstrations.
Quebec Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette called for calm Tuesday morning in his remarks before the start of consultations on language law Bill 96.
Fate of Trois-Rivières, Brome-Missisquoi and other Quebec ridings still uncertain after Monday's election
In Quebec, six ridings were awaiting final decisions as of Tuesday afternoon, with the closest Quebec battles in Brome-Missisquoi and Trois-Rivières.
If it seems like more guns are being used in London this year, it’s because they are.
Much of the same in the London-area ridings following Monday night's federal election.
Starting Wednesday, residents will need to show a proof of vaccination to access non-essential businesses in Ontario including nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms and restaurants.