More than three months after Sarah Jackson went missing, the RCMP located the seven-year-old Regina girl more than 1,300 kilometres from home.
The RCMP announced Thursday that officers in Vernon, B.C., had found the girl safe and sound, parked in a vehicle with her father outside a business at around noon.
Michael Gordon Jackson, who had been charged with abducting his daughter, was arrested without incident. Arrangements were being made to return him to Regina for court proceedings, likely early next week.
Arrangements also were being made to reunite Sarah with her mom, Mariecar, on Thursday evening.
“When Saskatchewan RCMP officers stand at this podium, oftentimes we are not speaking about good news; this is the nature of the work we do,” Sgt. Maj. Darryl Milo said during a media conference at RCMP headquarters in Regina.
“Today we achieved the outcome we have been diligently working towards, which is reuniting Sarah with her mom.”
The Mounties have been searching for Michael Jackson since November, when he allegedly didn’t return Sarah to his ex-wife after a visit. Jackson reportedly didn’t want their daughter to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
A Canada-wide warrant was issued for Jackson, who was charged with abduction in contravention of a parenting or custody order. Mariecar has full custody of her daughter.
On Feb. 15, the Mounties released a video of Mariecar pleading for the girl’s safe return. According to Milo, that video was watched more than 440,000 times and shared more than 13,000 times since its release.
Milo said the Mounties received tips and information from numerous jurisdictions before finding Michael and Sarah.
“Our investigation covered several provinces,” Milo said. “(It involved) numerous police forces within the RCMP and outside the RCMP as well. There was no limit to where we looked for both Sarah and Michael.”
Saying the investigation was continuing, Milo wouldn’t say where else Jackson might have been with his daughter, how he got to Vernon undetected, how long he and Sarah were in Vernon, or even how the Mounties happened to find the Jacksons on Thursday.
“I can’t discuss the information that resulted in them being located,” Milo said. “I can say numerous tips were received as a result of the videos released by Mariecar and the RCMP and with the help of media.
“As far as the specifics as to which information resulted in Michael’s capture, I can’t discuss that today.”
Milo expects those details to come out during the court proceedings.
The Mounties previously had said they believed someone had helped Jackson over the past three months, but Milo said no one else has been charged as yet. If investigators deem after going through the evidence that someone did assist Jackson, Milo said they could face the same charge as Jackson.
The RCMP officer said Mariecar had requested privacy while she spends time with her daughter. Asked how the mother reacted to Thursday’s phone call saying her daughter had been found, Milo said he didn’t know because he wasn’t privy to that conversation.
“I can speak to what went on in our building today, the emotions that I saw from the General Investigation investigators (and) the emotions that I saw from our communications people,” Milo said. “There were tears. There was relief.
“So to put that into perspective of what Mariecar may have been feeling, I can’t imagine it. It had to be significant.”