It's been 25 years since Danny Gaulton went missing, but family still holds hope

Danny Gaulton, from Labrador West, went missing 25 years ago shortly after he moved to Grande Prairie, Alta.  (Submitted by the Gaulton family - image credit)
Danny Gaulton, from Labrador West, went missing 25 years ago shortly after he moved to Grande Prairie, Alta. (Submitted by the Gaulton family - image credit)
Submitted by the Gaulton family
Submitted by the Gaulton family

A few months after Danny Gaulton moved to Alberta, he disappeared.

The 26-year-old from Labrador West just finished school, and moved to Grande Prairie, Alta. to find a new job as a correctional officer.

That was in 1997 — he hasn't been seen or heard from since.

"It really began a nightmare that has just continued to this day," said Gaulton's youngest sister, Valerie Champion, in an interview with Labrador Morning.

"It's like there's a part of our lives that have stood still since that moment and have not had any type of resolution."

Darryl Dinn/CBC
Darryl Dinn/CBC

It's been 25 years since Daniel Gaulton, also known as Danny, disappeared. He was last seen at the now demolished Park Hotel in Grande Prairie.

No matter how much time has passed, Gaulton's family members say they're determined to find out what happened to Gaulton, who's remembered as a cheerful person who made friends wherever he went.

"Right now, and what has been for 25 years, is to bring Danny home, put him to rest with our mother and the rest of our family, and to bring some closure to our life," said one of Danny's other sisters, Josephine Gaulton-Rowe.

"Since Danny's disappeared in 25 years, it's just a living hell."

The search for answers

A few years ago, the family reached out to someone they thought might be able to help — Ellen White.

White is the senior investigator of the podcast, Whereabouts Unknown, which takes a deep-dive into the stories of missing people.

White says trying to go back a quarter of a century to determine what happened to someone like Gaulton is incredibly challenging. But after posting about him on social media a few years ago, she says she was surprised to discover many people reaching out to share what they knew.

Darryl Dinn/CBC
Darryl Dinn/CBC

"Within the hour, people were reaching out to us on this 20-something year old case saying, 'Listen, I was there, I saw what happened," said White. "And from that, it really just snowballed."

White says she's interviewed about 150 people about the case, who all share the same story. Many of the tipsters told White that Gaulton is "no longer with us," she says, and she believes that to be true.

"Danny would not ever have left this huge family that he loves, his friends, his coworkers," said White. "He would never have just disappeared on his own."

The RCMP in Grande Prairie has not responded to CBC's requests about where the case currently stands. But White hopes people will continue reaching out with any details they may have.

Darryl Dinn/CBC
Darryl Dinn/CBC

"We do believe that we know what happened to Danny and who was responsible, and we believe that the Gaulton family knows that as well," said White. "The evidence is what's required."

Gaulton was last seen on November 24, 1997, and he was believed to be driving a gold, 1985 Chrysler LeBaron.

Champion says working with White and the podcast has helped the family piece together the details of what happened the night he disappeared. She says it took 23 years for the RCMP to take the case seriously and to begin investigating it as a homicide case, as opposed to a missing persons case.

For now, Champion's hope is to finally get some closure.

"For us, keeping his story out there is very important," she said. "I mean, after all this time, 25 years later, we are really just hoping to be able to find his remains and bring him home where he belongs."