Carmen Robinson was last seen getting off a bus in View Royal the evening of Dec. 8, 1973. Her case remains unsolved 47 years later. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)

Carmen Robinson was last seen getting off a bus in View Royal the evening of Dec. 8, 1973. Her case remains unsolved 47 years later. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)

Gone cold: Fate of B.C. teen remains a mystery, 47 years after her disappearance

Carmen Robinson, 17, was last seen exiting a bus near Victoria in December 1973

Forty-seven years ago, 17-year-old Carmen Robinson was seen in public for the last time.

Around 10 p.m. on Dec. 8, 1973, the View Royal teenager had finished a dish-washing shift at the Ingraham Hotel and was stepping off a bus at West Burnside and Holland Avenue. The bus stop was just two blocks from her home, but she never walked through the door.

In the years of investigation that followed, police had only a handful of leads, including a bumper sticker on a car, and claims from serial killer Clifford Olsen. But nearly five decades later, Robinson’s disappearance is – at least publicly – just as much a mystery as it was that winter night.

If she is alive today, Carmen is 64.

In 2019, Black Press Media spoke to retired RCMP investigator Wendel Milne, one of the first officers assigned to the case. He remembered police getting the call early Dec. 9 that the teenager hadn’t come home the night before.

Milne confirmed the bus driver was the last person confirmed to have seen her alive. At that time, the area around the bus stop would have been fairly rural.

“It was kind of a remote area, in my recollection, and there wasn’t really any house who would have had an eye on it,” Milne said. “And if there was somebody driving by at the time … nobody came forward publicly. So you really had nobody to give you that first clue.”

READ ALSO:Washington man guilty of 1987 murders of Victoria-area couple

READ ALSO: Case of missing Vancouver Island woman inspires new true crime podcast

Police spoke to Carmen’s family and friends and searched local databases for sexual assaults and sex offenders in the area. They did surveillance where she went missing and thoroughly searched the region, looking in ditches and fields.

“Out of all that, there was nothing that surfaced,” Milne said. “It was just like she stepped off the bus into the abyss.”

People who knew Carmen told police she was hard-working and didn’t party.

“It was completely out of character for her to have gone off somewhere on her own,” Milne said.

In 2019, retired RCMP officer Bruce Brown also spoke to Black Press Media. Brown was transferred to what was then the Colwood RCMP detachment in 1977 and was assigned Carmen’s file a few years later.

“[View Royal] was a relatively small town back in those days in the early ’70s. So there, there were a lot of people who knew Carmen because she was kind of a regular person in the community,” he said.

“There was no physical evidence, no one witnessed anything. So it was classified at the time as a missing person. But as time went on, I think everyone involved in the case realized that it was likely a murder case.”

Minimal leads

The only real lead came from a friend who had seen Carmen arguing with a man a few days before she went missing. That friend was put under hypnosis to help police create a composite sketch. She recalled the person’s face and an associated vehicle – a 1973 Dodge or Plymouth Duster.

After she was hypnotized, Carmen’s friend recalled another detail: a bumper sticker on the car. The sticker had the name ‘Ferguson’ on it and was traced to a person who ran for school trustee in Kamloops and had bumper stickers made for the campaign.

“So that, combined with a number of other missing and murdered young women from the Kamloops area, gave us some hope that perhaps this vehicle may somehow be linked to to Carmen’s disappearance,” Brown said.

Police took the description of the car and the man to an unsolved homicide conference in Kamloops in 1981, and the composite sketch was published in the local newspaper.

“It’s a general description of … a man with dark hair and a big, big bushy beard. So, not that unusual,” Brown said. “We were never able to find that person.

“No one we interviewed we could link to even being in this area at the time,” Brown said. “You basically had to rely on trying to pin people down as to where they may have been through employment records … there were no cell phone records in those days.”

Brown said some of the investigators’ wives would ride the bus route – with police following – to see if they could identify anyone of interest.

No closure for Carmen

Olson, who was in Victoria in the early to mid-’70s, was arrested in James Bay for some break-ins, and would later claim to know where Carmen’s body was buried.

Olson was flown to Victoria and took police to the Fort Rod Hill area. But Brown said he only pointed out areas where it would have been impossible to bury a body because of the hard and rocky terrain. Police even used subsurface sonar equipment to search the area.

Brown speculated that Olson, who was serving a life sentence for abducting, raping and murdering eight girls and three boys in B.C. from 1980 to 1981, may have fabricated his involvement in order to get a trip out of prison. Olson died in 2011.

For Milne, the weight of Robinson’s case hasn’t lifted with time.

“It’s about 35 year years ago,” he said. “I can still see her face as clear as a picture. It’s something that will always bother me because there’s got to be an answer, but I’m not sure it will ever be solved unless somebody on their deathbed decides … to get it off their conscience.”

For Brown, it’s important to keep the memory of Carmen alive in hopes that one day, there will be answers.

Anyone with information can call the West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264. Callers who would like to remain anonymous can call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

-With files from Nicole Crescenzi.

RELATED: ‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

unsolved crimes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Robert Dale Stanton of Clinton was last heard from on Jan. 9, and police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo credit: RCMP)
Police ask for help in locating missing Clinton man

Robert Dale Stanton was last heard from on Jan. 9 and is believed to be in the Clinton/70 Mile area

From the peak of Mica Mountain in the scenic Cariboo Mountain Range, which has a view of the distant mountains in the Clearwater area, including Raft and Trophy mountains.
Teen snowmobiler says South Cariboo SAR ‘real heroes’

Youth built a snow cave after getting separated from his friends, family

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

South Cariboo Recreation Centre. Jen Blyth photo
CRD to apply for grant to install high-def cameras, audio at ice arenas for streaming

The cost of the project is estimated at $250,000 for installation at all three recreation facilities

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Most Read