Sometimes, people make bad decisions. Even the most well-intentioned reasoning behind those decisions can result in terrible consequences. The thing is, bad decisions can often lead to even worse decisions down the road, merely out of desperation or necessity.
This was the case with Amber Tuccaro, whose single bad decision blossomed into a night of terror and years of uncertainty for her loved ones. All because of the one night that Amber decided to take a risk that she hadn’t really needed to take…
Amber Tucarro was 20 years old when she and a friend set out from her hometown of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada to travel and visit Edmonton. Amber was a member of Alberta’s Mikisew Cree First Nation. She was proud of her heritage and confident in her ability to make the long trip together, even while bringing along her 14-month old son, Jacob.
It was mid-August 2012 and the balmy days of high summer were beginning to give way to the cold winds of the north. Amber and her friend had planned to stay the night in Nisku, which lay just outside of Edmonton. The decision to stay just outside the city was a practical one. They wanted to save money and it was cheaper to find a room in Nisku than in the big city itself…
Too Much Excitement
The plan was to stay the night in Nisku and travel together into Edmonton the next day. Amber, young as she was, couldn’t sleep for the excitement. She was anxious to get into the city and decided to change her plans. Instead of simply waiting out the night, she told her friend that the would go into Edmonton herself that very evening.
She asked her friend if she could stay in Nisku with Jacob and watch over him while she made her way into the city. Her friend agreed but asked how in the world she planned to get into Edmonton without a car, something she’d have to leave for Jacob to ride in the next morning. Amber’s new plan was to hitchhike into the city. It would be easy…
Despite her misgivings, the friend let Amber leave on her own. She knew her friend and she knew that there was little she could offer as a means of dissuading her of this potentially perilous decision. So she let her go and agreed to watch the Jacob. It was a decision that would haunt her the rest of her life…
It was evening when Amber stepped off the road and into the car of an unknown man presumably headed into the city. No one saw what type of car it was, nor recalled what the driver looked like. No one saw Amber disappear that night and no one would ever see her alive again; though they would hear her…
The Old Story
When Amber’s mother, Tootsie Tuccaro, reported her missing the very next day, the police asked her the same old questions that they always ask the parents of potential runaways. “Has she ever went missing before? They also made bald statements like “Oh, she’s probably out partying and she’s gonna come home, she’ll call.”
But Tootsie Tuccaro knew her daughter wasn’t the type to run off and leave her 14-month-old son alone. She recognized the tone of worry in her friend’s voice when she’d called to tell her she was missing. Nevertheless, even after three weeks, the media relations officer with the Leduc RCMP reported that they still had no reason to believe Amber was in any danger…
Despite a total lack of confirmation, the police were so sure that the girl was still in the Edmonton area, that they removed Amber’s name from their list of missing persons; without informing her family. They also “mistakenly” destroyed the belongings she’d left in the motel in Nisku. And though they later apologized for both oversights, the damage was already done.
This apology didn’t come until it was far too late, however. A mere two weeks after they removed Amber from their list, a group of horseback riders discovered a set of partial skeletal remains in a farmer’s field in Leduc. These remains were analyzed and confirmed to be those of Amber Tuccaro. But the most unsettling piece of this mystery was only just about to emerge…
The Recorded Call
In late 2012, the RCMP released a disturbing audio recording they had discovered which detailed Amber’s final moments in this world. They hadn’t found her phone or anything linking her death to her kill, but they had discovered that Amber had made a call to the Edmonton Remand Centre correctional facility; a place where her brother was incarcerated.
The Edmonton Remand Centre, like many correctional facilities, records all phone calls in and out of the prison. This is in case any of the inmates are planning anything dangerous or illegal. The call had apparently been made unbeknownst to the kidnapper and both Amber and the man’s voices could be heard speaking on the recording…
Insistent and Frightened
Amber can be heard talking to her driver, saying things like, “You better not be taking me anywhere I don’t want to go.” The man responds to her line of questioning by insisting that he is driving her north to “50th St.” Amber’s tone throughout the call is frightened and she asks him repeatedly where he is taking her.
The phone call lasted for about 15 minutes but only 1 minute of it was officially released. This made Tootsie Tuccaro even more upset as it, in her opinion anyway, prevents the public from being able to properly recognize the man’s voice. She is sure, even today, that someone out there must know who he is…
A Mother’s Love
“I have a hard time listening to the recording,” Tootsie told the press. “My baby sounded so scared.” As of today, there have been no arrests attributed to the abduction and murder of Amber Tuccaro, but the dumping site has raised some questions about a potential link to other murders in the area.
In that regard, the Tuccaro recording may prove an invaluable tool in determining who might be responsible for a string of killings in the Nisku area near Edmonton. Still, there are many questions about how the case has handled that point to not only incompetence on the part of the Leduc RCMP but suggest an implicit bias against First Nation victims…
What is perhaps most disheartening and suspicious is the RCMP’s decision to tell Amber’s family that they “believed” she had been murdered several weeks before her remains were found and the tape was released. If they did choose to keep these facts secret and sit on them for a time, they have not offered any explanation as to why.
The Same Killer
As for Amber’s link to other killers, there are several. One of these involves the remains of Delores Brower, which were found on a rural property similar to the field where Amber’s remains discovered. Delores’ remains, however, weren’t found until more than 11 years after she disappeared. Did the Leduc RCMP drag their feet on her disappearance too or was this coincidence?
It begs the question, how many more women or girls are going to be killed before this man is caught? Tootsie Tuccaro, meanwhile, is still waiting for her own answers regarding her daughter’s death. “We have a lot of questions that we’re not going to get answers to because it’s an ongoing case, and even if the killer is found we’ll probably never hear some of the whole story,” she explains.
“There’s somebody out there that recognizes the voice,” Tootsie insists. She says that there has to be. Whether it’s his mother, his sister, or his wife. She and many others believe that it is the responsibility of these people to come forward and identify him. That way, her daughter and the others she’s certain he killed can finally rest in peace.