Crystal Dunahee

Crystal Dunahee

Dunahees share story of lost son

New book touches on struggles and continued hope, now 22 years after Michael disappeared

March 24, 1991 was an ordinary Sunday morning in the Dunahee household.

Bruce and Crystal packed up their children, baby Caitlin and four-year-old Michael, and headed toward Blanshard elementary school where Crystal was set to play a round of touch football.

When they arrived, Michael wanted to play on his own within sight at a nearby playground – something his parents hadn’t let him do before.

“He disappeared from sight in a split second and within the time that Bruce looked down to put Caitlin in the buggy, to when he looked up again, Michael had gone,” said Valerie Green, author of the first authorized book written about Michael’s disappearance.

“It’s the story of what happened when Michael Dunahee was presumably abducted and how his family has survived almost 22 years without knowing.”

Michael’s abduction was the first child-stranger abduction in Victoria. Drawn from interviews with family, friends and the Victoria police, Vanished: The Michael Dunahee Story deals with the family’s struggles since Michael went missing, the media challenges and the impact on Caitlin, who grew up in the wake of the abduction.

“We sat with Valerie before beginning and we felt she would represent the family in an understanding, compassionate way,” said Crystal Dunahee, who has rejected previous offers to tell her family’s story as a movie.

“You know when it’s the right time and from what I’ve read so far, it’s very well put together.”

Dunahee also hopes the book will lay to rest some of the misinformation published about her family over the years.

“Even after all this time, it still catches me,” said Dunahee, who lives in Esquimalt. “It’s still fresh no matter how many years go by. It’s still an open wound.”

Since 1991, child services agencies have become more interconnected, noted Dunahee, a recipient of the Order of British Columbia for her work as president of Child Find B.C. and Child Find Canada.

“If your child does go missing, you don’t have to reach out to every single agency that assists with missing children,” she said. “That was the most heart wrenching thing I had to do.”

The book, Green said, is written in the spirit of hope.

“It’s a cold case, but it’s still active. That seems incredible after almost 22 years,” said the Saanich-based writer. “I was surprised that even the police are hopeful, without evidence to the contrary. There’s never been a body found. There’s no actual crime scene.”

“You never know,” Dunahee said. “(Michael) just might pick up the book himself and realize this is the story of his life that’s missing.”

Vanished will be available from local bookstores this month for $18.95, with half of the proceeds to support Child Find B.C.

“Hopefully it’s a lot safer world, but at the same time, I think it’s taken away a lot of the freedom for children to be able to go out and play, which is a shame,” Green said.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Child Find B.C. benefit

Keep the hope alive for Michael Dunahee, his family and all missing children during a gala fundraiser for Child Find B.C., Nov. 30 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the CFB Esquimalt Wardroom, 1586 Esquimalt Rd. Tickets are available by pre-purchase only, for $40, by calling 250-382-7311.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelly Black, executive director of Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens, is working on years of deferred maintenance around the house and property. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Point Ellice House in Victoria looks to patch up during pandemic

Woodpeckers, leaks and rot keep museum head busy

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Walkers ascend Mount Douglas Park on Sunday, Feb. 7. Visits to Saanich Parks are up 46 per cent compared to pre-pandemic statistics this time last year. (Darrell Wick Photo)
Oak Bay, Saanich parks peak in popularity during pandemic

Oak Bay spent an extra $5,000 on park toilet paper in 2020

This male Dungeness can safely be harvested after passing muster. An official with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is not clear how well locals on the Saanich Peninsula are complying with crabbing regulations, but her comments suggest that any problems might be of a minor nature. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Submitted)
Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

While recreational crab fishery has ‘compliance issues,’ no evidence of ‘large scale poaching’

Police seek information after a pedestrian was hit in a crosswalk at the intersection of Goldstream Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway on March 3.(Google Maps)
Witnesses sought in Langford pedestrian hit and run

Suspect is older man driving four-door, gold sedan

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read