Decades-old parental abduction case ends on positive note in Victoria

Patricia O'Byrne has been arrested for taking infant daughter

Eighteen years after his infant daughter was snatched from his custody, Joe Chisholm is stunned that his search is over and she has been found.

The case came to an end in Victoria last Thursday, when Victoria detectives arrested Patricia Joan O’Byrne for allegedly abducting her biological daughter, Sigourney Teresa Chisholm on May 15, 1993.

Chisholm and O’Byrne had been mired in a custody battle when O’Byrne allegedly violated a custody order and left Toronto with their 20-month-old. Sigourney is now 20 years old.

“I am in shock – even though we have been hoping for this day for years and years. No doubt, Sigourney is in shock too,” Chisholm wrote in a post to the website, Peace 4 The Missing.

Victoria police Det.-Const. Roger de Pass and his partner walked up to the door of the single-family home in the 2000-block of Howard St., just before 8 a.m., where O’Byrne, 53, was living and arrested her. Police say she had been residing in Victoria under a different name.

Coinciding with the arrest, Toronto police and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, as well as counsellors, found and broke the news to Sigourney, who had also been living under a different name.

“I cannot begin to comprehend the magnitude of what this young woman has just learned,” said Victoria police Deputy Chief John Ducker.

The Victoria Police Department’s role in the case, led by the Toronto Police Service, began in October.

“Toronto police passed along valuable information from the Missing Children’s Society of Canada that O’Byrne may be residing in (Victoria),” said de Pass, who led Victoria police efforts, which included patrol officers and the covert surveillance Strike Force unit.

Police were concerned that O’Byrne posed a flight risk, de Pass said. Over the years rumours swirled that the mother was living in a number of countries, including England, Norway, Ireland, Spain and the U.S.

While he remained tight-lipped about Sigourney’s current whereabouts, he said she wasn’t living with her mother at the time of the arrest. 

“From what I understand they had been living in Victoria for (years),” he said, adding that when Sigourney was located she was a healthy, young adult who was doing very well and attending school.

While de Pass would not reveal specifics about the ongoing case, he said the positive outcome is heartening.

“It is always challenging to solve older files but I think this investigation is a reminder to all the families of missing children that there is still detectives working these files and we’re not giving up,” the detective said, adding that credit also goes to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and MissingKids.ca.

As for Chisholm, who also has a son, Jesse, his thoughts are with those families who continue to search for their loved ones.

“I will never forget that there are still so many missing. I will never forget,” Chisholm wrote.

O’Byrne is scheduled to appear in a Toronto court Monday morning. Calls to the Toronto police detective squad were not returned.

 

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Hot rods, rad rods, muscle and sports cars spanning the decades made their way in a parade from North Saanich to Victoria on June 19. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Classic cars cruise Saanich Peninsula in advance of Father’s Day

Retirement home residents from North Saanich to Victoria treated to a spectacle of hot rides

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read