Still missing after 30 years: The story of Darlene Tucker and Jinisina Stonehouse
In Oakville, Ontario on Valentine's Day 1983, Darlene Tucker left her parents’ house following an argument over her unexpected pregnancy. She moved in with her boyfriend’s family across town, but only stayed a couple of weeks reportedly because of a conflict over another man she was seeing in Toronto. After leaving, her boyfriend’s father, worried, reported her missing to police.
A few months after her disappearance she made a few collect calls to her mother from a payphone in Huntsville, Ontario. Then, in 1985, Darlene was seen working as a waitress in Toronto, and in 1987 she was seen in the Haliburton area. These two sightings were confirmed by the police.* Her family's concern was escalated when she did not collect her trust money on her 18th birthday, though Darlene would have turned 18 in 1985, and was subsequently sighted.
So far, this story reads like a typical runaway, determined to make it on her own. But Darlene was not the only one who disappeared at this time. Her friend Jinisina “Jan” Stonehouse disappeared on August 8, 1983 from Oakville. She was also pregnant.
The similarity of these two disappearances was too coincidental to ignore, and the Halton Police believe the two cases are connected.
As we have seen so many times, it is a missing person’s family that ensure their loved one stays in the media, and that searches continue. Unfortunately, Jan has no surviving relatives so the search for Jan is completely tied to the search for Darlene. Luckily, Darlene’s family never stopped looking, and so Jan’s story has remained active also.
Although there is more information available for Darlene, more sightings, more searching, in 1987 there was a confirmed sighting of both young women, together in Haliburton (or Huntsville, depending on what news article you read). Jan’s family owned a vacation trailer in Huntsville so it is thought that she knew the area. This was the last confirmed sighting of the two. There have been some follow up tips from internet sleuths attempting to find people the way we all do these days, Facebook or Twitter, but these tips have not yielded any valuable information about the women.
We have some observations and questions about these cases. We were surprised when we learned that Darlene had been seen and heard from since her disappearance. Some primary information available on her, provided through The Doe Network, claims she had not been seen since 1983 and that she is classified as “Endangered Missing” (endangered, meaning, she is presumed to be in some danger). Her profile on the Halton Police website also gives no mention of follow-up sightings, no mention of Toronto, Huntsville or Haliburton connections. Darlene has a profile on MissingKids.ca however, Jan does not. Moreover, Jan’s name on the RCMP’s database, “Canada’s Missing,” is spelled “Jannisina” rather than correctly as “Jinisina”. These issues are not unique to the two--we frequently encounter misinformation while researching missing people. If anything this is a cautionary observation that the internet is rife with false information and that the missing person’s databases (there are many) can be unreliable or incomplete.
It seems incredibly likely, through our research, that Darlene and Jan were - at least in the beginning - voluntarily missing. There are many reasons why people chose to go missing we will not claim to know why Darlene and Jan chose to leave. It is the staying away, however, that gives us pause. It worries us that no one has seen or heard from them in nearly 30 years, especially since it doesn’t seem like they were actively hiding in the first years following their disappearances. Subsequently, they needn’t have worried about being forced back to their parents’ homes as they were of legal age to leave at the time of their disappearances, and were adults at the times of Darlene’s later sightings.
There is no confirmation from law enforcement or family, though, that Darlene and/or Jan were, or continue to be, voluntarily missing. Usually, in the cases of voluntarily missing people, the police would inform the family that the person has been located and does not wish to be contacted. Logically, if this happened, then the family would stop publicly looking, but Darlene’s family never stopped hoping to see her again. In spite of this, the police do not believe that the two were met with foul play and it is believed that they are living their lives, under aliases, somewhere.
On a human level we want safety for Darlene and Jan. We are concerned because of the thirty year gap in sightings of two people who had no real threatening reason (that we know of) to hide. But the simplest explanation is often the correct one, that they moved and are living somewhere under aliases and do not want to found. We do not know if this is the case, but we certainly hope that it is, and that nothing cruel as befallen them.
There is so much about this story that confuses us: Why was it Darlene’s boyfriend’s father to report her missing? Did her family know about her boyfriends in Oakville and Toronto? What was Darlene’s connection with Huntsville? Why did her case remain active when she was in contact with her parents and after the confirmed sighting of her in Toronto and Huntsville? Why didn’t Darlene collect her trust money, and why did this escalate her family's concerns (when they were aware of confirmed sightings and in some contact)? Is some of the confusion regarding sightings and contact a result of cross-jurisdictional investigations?
But these questions are a by-product of our human nature. We want to know, and not knowing disturbs us greatly. These questions may never be answered and Darlene and Jan may live out their new lives unbeknownst to us. Perhaps, some cruel fate played out with Darlene and Jan as the recipients. Until we know they are safe, or their families withdraw their missing person's reports, we will continue asking questions and seeking answers.
*Note: A sighting is confirmed when a person who knows the missing person actually speaks to them.
Inside Halton - "Darlene Tucker still missing after 30 years"
Inside Halton - "Story on two missing girls cold cases turns up tip"
Hamilton Spectator - "Tip brings hope for missing woman's sister"