Search for missing Queens County man resumed over weekend

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Ground Search and Rescue volunteers, left to right, Gerald Ward, Gabrielle Beaulieu, Steve Best and Mike Daurie, as they prepare to search the area near the residence of the missing Thomas Burke.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Approximately 30 volunteers from four Ground Search and Rescue operations gathered in Liverpool on May 12 for another search for Thomas Burke who went missing last July.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Gabrielle Beaulieu, a Ground Search and Rescue volunteer with Liverpool, was among those who devoted the day May 12 to locating Thomas Burke. Beaulieu is part of Parks Canada&#8217;s emergency response team.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Volunteers came from four Ground Search and Rescue contingents &#8212; Queens and North Queens, the Valley and Lunenburg County.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Volunteers program their devices as they prepare to set off in the hunt for the missing Thomas Burke.</p>

About 30 Ground Search and Rescue volunteers descended on Liverpool May 12 to try and help the RCMP solve the mystery of the whereabouts of Thomas Burke.

Burke, 28, was last seen at his residence on Town Lake Road near midnight on July 16 of last year.

Staff Sergeant Derek Smith of the Queens RCMP told LighthouseNOW that Burke, who was unmarried and lived with his sister at the time, would sometimes sleep in the shed he had set up "as a bit of a man cave.

"And he went out to go to sleep that night and that was the last anybody had seen him," said Smith.

There had been an extensive ground search last July after he was first reported missing.

"What we want to do is have a search now with a little bit less foliage on the trees, and what-not, just to see if there's any clues or anything we can develop," the staff sergeant explained.

Smith confirmed that foul play is not suspected, but he had no other explanation for Burke's disappearance.

"We really don't know. That's it in a nutshell."

Volunteers arrived from the Ground Search and Rescue contingents of Valley, Queens, North Queens and Lunenburg County. RCMP Halifax had brought in a trained dog to assist in the search.

Smith expected the volunteers to be searching most of the day in areas around Burke's residence and on the north side of Highway 103.

"As I say, we've done extensive ground search before so this is sort of just really re-checking some of those areas."

Smith noted that only he and the dog handler were conducting the search as part of their jobs.

"Everybody else has given up their Mother's Day weekend to try and bring a resolution for the family," he said.

Gabrielle Beaulieu was one of the volunteers. Part of the emergency response team for Parks Canada, she explained she is well-versed in operating in the woods and using a compass and a map.

"So it's a tasking and a responsibility that I'm used to," said Beaulieu, adding, "I like giving back to the community. It's a service that we need."

As of print time, the RCMP had no further developments in the case to report.

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