(April 2002 photo)
The Search for Lachlan Cranswick
He was reported missing Jan. 23 after he didn't show up to a scheduled curling tournament and had missed several days of work. Lachlan's friends checked his house and found the door unlocked. His wallet, keys, laptop, and passport were all left inside. His car was parked in the garage. But Lachlan Cranswick was nowhere to be found.
Cranswick’s older brother, Rupert, came to Canada from Australia shortly after his brother's disappearance and saw the state his house was left in.
"His house was spooky, it was like he had just left two minutes ago. Everything was set up for his week.… Being a single bloke, he had all of his food frozen for the week, some frozen chicken and Chinese soup to take to work." Rupert said. "The heater was still on, the lights were on, his bins were out. It was just like, it was as normal."
Searches of his workplace and area hospitals yielded no clues to his disappearance. Extensive ground searches using dogs and helicopters also turned up nothing. After a month of investigating, police announced they had investigated all possible leads and had no idea where Cranwick could be.
Police originally believed Cranswick had gone for a walk on one of the many trails near his house and got lost. However, all the items he usually took with him when going for nature walks – a fanny pack, flashlight, whistle to ward off wildlife and a GPS system – were found in his house.
While Cranswick was an avid outdoorsman, who often hiked trails around Deep River, his colleague Daniel Banks described him as extremely safety conscious. "He was known not to go anywhere without his cellphone and wallet and he even had a GPS which he would carry with him if he was walking in the woods," said Banks (CBS News.com).
His brother, Rupert, also said, "I find it unbelievable that Lach would go walking on the river or do anything silly like that — no way," said Rupert. "And I found it silly that on the Monday night, we found evidence that he was using his computer until about 11:30 at night, so I find it unbelievable that my brother, who had to start work early in the morning would suddenly go out walking the ski trails." (CBS News.com)
A search of the area with tracking dogs and a helicopter ultimately could find no trace of Cranswick. Police checked across the Ottawa River and also searched nearby hospitals. They had no luck.
The lack of clues in the case has fueled speculation and conspiracy theories about the scientist's disappearance. A native of Australia, Cranswick moved to Canada in 2003 to run tests and experiments at the Chalk River facility. He is an expert in earth sciences, working with neutron beams and using the reactor to test the properties of materials such as minerals.
Cranswick’s professional background has led to international interest in his disappearance, with the New York Post and Fox News both running the headline "Canadian Nuclear Scientist Vanishes Without a Trace" on their websites in February.
Deep River police have tried to dampen such speculation, telling news agencies they have no reason to believe Cranswick was targeted because of his job. His colleagues at the nuclear reactor are doing the same.
"I would want people to know that all of his research was in the public domain," colleague Daniel Banks said. "It was his role to facilitate research being done by people in universities all across Canada, and all of that research is published or publishable in the public domain. There is nothing secret about it."
While Cranswick’s family didn't believe his disappearance was work-related, they were not quite ready to rule out foul play.
Yet, Const. Darin Faris, the Deep River police officer leading the investigation, said that if Cranswick had been murdered or accidentally killed, there would be some physical evidence left behind. Police have found none.
Police, along with the scientist's colleagues at the National Research Council, have contacted his acquaintances to see if he had been planning to travel.
However, Cranswick was known as a well-organized, regimented man who would be unlikely to take a spontaneous trip without telling anyone. Const. Faris cited the work left unmailed on the scientist's desk as evidence he wasn't planning to leave.
"If he was going to go away for any length of time, or if he was ending his life, he would have finished it up," said Faris.
Members of Cranswick’s curling team also have difficulty reconciling Cranswick’s character with his disappearance. He was a key member of the local curling club, serving as vice-president and taking responsibility for the club’s bar and membership.
"It was just his dedication to everything he did around the club," said Cranswick’s friend and curling partner Evans Harrison. "He was always reliable. If you made arrangements to do something with him, he always turned up to do it. He was just Mr. Reliability."
Harrison told CBS News in March that he didn't expect to see his friend alive. "It's almost certain that he may have met with some kind of accident," he said. "We don't know what." He explained that if Lachlan was still alive, he wouldn't have just disappeared.
Harrison added, "If he's in the river, it will be May or June before he's found, but he will be found, because there's heavy boating use in the Ottawa River around here," said Harrison. "The river is a mile wide here, and there isn't much current, so I don't think he will go too far."
Lachlan Cranwick found
On June 11, 2010, two canoeists found the body of Lachlan Cranswick floating in shallow water near Welsh Bay in the Ottawa River. The area is downriver from the city of Deep River where Lachlan had been living since 2003.
Lachlan's jacket and identification, including his Atomic Energy of Canada Limited photo ID badge, were discovered with the body. Rupert Cranswick told the Ottawa Citizen that police were still planning to do a DNA analysis to confirm the identification.
There was no indication of either foul play or suicide.
Lachlan Cranswick's body was cremated in Canada and the ashes were sent to Australia, where he was originally from, for burial near his parents. He is survived by two older brothers — Rupert and Noel.
"At least we know where he is and we can bring him back to rest," said Rupert.
About Lachlan Cranswick
Rupert told the Ottawa Citizen that his brother was a kind, shy and generous man. According to the paper, Rupert went through his brother’s personal records and discovered that Lachlan had been donating a lot of money to charities each month. In the past, Lachlan had also sent large sums to his brothers to help them support their families. "It was just unbelievable," Rupert said. "He was that sort of brother.”
“It has hit the family very hard,” Rupert said. “I suppose you always live in hope, but now it’s a certainty that something happened.
“He didn’t deserve it. He was a very loving sort of brother.”
Rupert said Deep River police and the OPP put a lot of resources into the investigation, stayed in regular contact with him and Noel and were helpful when each of them travelled to Deep River earlier this year.
“I can’t praise them enough, I think they’ve done a wonderful job,” he said.
Rupert said his brother loved living in Deep River, where he moved in 2003. He also loved his work and his involvement in a curling club in the area.
Name/age: Lachlan Cranswick, 41
Workplace: Chalk River Laboratories, ON, Canada
Residence: Deep River, ON, Canada
Last seen: 1/28/10, Deep River, ON, Canada
Recovered: 6/11/10, Ottawa River near Welsh Bay