Missing Hiker from the UK Identified
Posted by: Steen Hartsen | June 8, 2016
On November 25th, 2013 Tom Billings vanished while hiking in the mountains on the North Shore in North Vancouver. A large scale search of the Cypress area was dispatched after he was reported missing, however no trace of Mr. Billings was found. In April 2016 some hikers in the Cypress ski hill area found what they believed to be human remains along with some personal effects near a hiking trail and reported it to local police. The police then contacted the British Columbia Coroner Service (BCCS), who are responsible for investigating all unnatural, sudden and unexpected, unexplained or unattended deaths in the province.
For over 15 years, BCIT’s Forensic DNA lab has collaborated with the BC Coroner Service where the latest DNA technologies are needed to help solve unidentified human remains cases. In this case, the BCCS took over identification of the remains once they were recovered by the North Shore Search and Rescue team. BCIT’s scientists were tasked with generating a DNA profile from the remains found on the North Shore, and comparing them with family members of the suspected missing person. Using a newly validated bone extraction method adapted from the International Commission of Missing Persons (ICMP) we were able to generate a full profile for this case and make the familial comparison to a family member. This allowed the BC Coroner Service to make a positive identification of the remains as belonging to Tom Billings.
While the loss of a family member is always a tragic circumstance, the BCIT Forensic DNA lab is proud to be a part of the identification process that allows the family of Mr. Billings to know for certain what became of him in the fall of 2013. For more information check out some of the media stories relating to this case linked below.