Amber Tuccaro was a 21-year-old mother and Indigenous woman in Alberta, Canada. The Royal Canada Mounted Police’s (RCMP) indifference to her disappearance is a huge part of why her murder remains unsolved to this day. Amber was a mother to her 1-year-old son, Jacob, and was a Mikisew Cree First Nation member. They lived and struggled to find housing in Fort McMurray, staying in the Unity House on 3 separate occasions. The Unity House is an organization that helps people find the resources they need to live independently. August 17th, 2010 was when Amber decided to take a small vacation to Edmonton with Jacob, and a new friend she met in the Unity House, Evangeline. They booked a motel room in Nisku, Alberta. The next morning, the three went out to do some shopping in Edmonton, however as they got back to the motel, Amber said she wanted to go back to Edmonton. Evangeline agreed to watch Jacob so Amber could go back, so Amber left and began hitchhiking. Hitching a ride from a stranger wasn’t uncommon for Indigenous people in the area. They could not afford cars to travel from the remote areas in which they lived. Amber had been keeping in touch with her mother all throughout that day, but at one point, she stopped responding. Her mother, Vivian, contacted Evangeline and she told her that both Amber and Jacob were asleep in the motel, and promised to have Amber call when she woke up.
It was the next morning on August 19th, that Vivian contacted the RCMP to alert them to her daughter being missing. In an article by Julie Fidler, she tells how they reacted to it. “Vivian contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to report her daughter missing, which proved to be an effort in futility. The police didn’t take Vivian’s concerns seriously and assumed that Amber was out partying. The RCMP dismissively told Vivian not to sweat it, that she would show up eventually.” (Fidler) Vivian knew something wasn’t right though, it wasn’t like her daughter to leave her son and stop contacting her. Amber took being a mother very seriously and loved her son. Amber and Vivian had a very close relationship and Vivian knew that Amber doing either of those things meant that something bad had happened to her daughter. As the days ticked by, the police did nothing in an effort to find Amber.
On August 28th, only a mere 10 days since she disappeared, an RCMP constable recommended the case be closed and Amber removed from the national missing person database after a reported sighting of her. There were no attempts made to verify this sighting. Vivian fought to ensure her daughter wasn’t forgotten. In another act of straight police incompetence and negligence, Amber had left most of her belongings in the motel room, yet they were not collected and investigated by police, they were removed and thrown out.
Two years later on August 28th, 2012, they backtracked and admitted that Amber had not just run away to start a new life and that she was endangered. This is when they released a one minute section of a 17-minute phone call from Amber to her incarcerated brother. This phone call was during the time Amber was in the car with a stranger, once she sensed she was in danger, she called her brother.
The phone call was recorded, as all incoming and outgoing calls in prisons are. Amber can be heard asking multiple times about the specifics of where they were going and the location they were in. A male voice can be heard, reassuring her that they were heading to the city, he was just taking the backroads to get there. She didn’t believe it and the longer the call progresses, you can just feel her fear heightening. The male voice says something about a gravel road and then the call is cut off. The one-minute segment of the call is available on YouTube, however, watch with caution, as it is very disturbing to hear the last few moments that this woman was alive. The RCMP had this phone call in their possession for two years, yet never released it to the public. It was believed the man drove them southeast rural country roads, instead of north to the city.
Just days later, on September 1st, 2012, the skeletal remains of Amber Tuccaro were found in a farm field south of the Nisku motel where she had stayed, by horseback riders. Her body was exactly 17 minutes away from the motel, the same length as the full phone call to her brother. 17 minutes was the length of time it took for them to drive from the motel to where Amber’s body was found. The man heard on the recording never had any intention to take her into the city. Amber had been dead since the day she had left, yet the handling of her case by the RCMP had botched the investigation, withheld information from both her family and the public for years, and had tried to throw out the case on multiple occasions.
Amber’s killer has yet to be found in the 10 years since her death.
Vivian has raised Jacob since Amber disappeared and she still fiercely advocates for her daughter to receive justice. “I am 56 years old now and raising a little boy that is so full of energy… He drives me crazy but at the same time, he’s my sanity. I mean, he is all that I have left of my baby,” Vivian said while talking about her grandson and Amber’s son, Jacob. “Just the way he looks at me sometimes, and the way he stands like his mommy… The way he says words, he says them the way Amber used to like Amber had a witty attitude and that’s what Jacob has,” she said in between sobs… “I guess being more caring and not just saying, ‘oh, she will call, anyway she’s probably just out partying.’ Like, have more respect and more compassion. You know, don’t just treat her like she’s nothing. I’m not just speaking for Amber but for all the missing and murdered,” she said.” (Missing & Murdered: The Unsolved Cases of Indigenous Women and Girls)
Amber Tuccaro is just one of many, many Indigenous women who do not receive justice or even an investigation into their disappearance and/or murder.
Fidler, Julie. “Ten Years Later: Who Killed Amber Tuccaro?” Medium, Medium, 17 Aug. 2020, medium.com/@truecrimetimesblog/ten-years-later-who-killed-amber-tuccaro-d9d78beae68f.
“Mysterious Murder: Amber Alyssa Tuccaro.” Hue and Cry, 5 July 2020, thehueandcry.com/amber-tuccaro/.
“Unresolved: Amber Alyssa Tuccaro.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, www.cbc.ca/missingandmurdered/mmiw/profiles/amber-alyssa-tuccaro.
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