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What happened to Robert Turner?

Robert Turner left his home in North Bay June 20, 1969 and never returned. His body was found 34 days later in the Veuve River. Photo submitted by the Ontario Provincial Police.

Robert Turner left his home in North Bay June 20, 1969 and never returned. His body was found 34 days later in the Veuve River.

Photo submitted by the Ontario Provincial Police.

The case of Robert Turner has been cold for a long time, but Det. Insp. Dave Cardwell, of the Ontario Provincial Police, hopes to heat it up again.

Two years ago Cardwell held a media conference and stated Turner’s mysterious death almost 35 years ago was being reopened.

“The coverage from that conference led to us receiving over a dozen tips which are all being followed up on,” Cardwell said during an interview Tuesday.

“I really believe there’s still someone out there who knows what happened to Robert Turner, and we’d like to find that out not only to solve the case but give his family some closure.”

Continue to investigate
The OPP thought a cigarette butt found in Turner’s vehicle might lead to that closure, but DNA testing done it last year showed he’d been the only one smoking it.

Regardless, OPP officers in North Bay continue to investigate.

Still no sign
This much about Robert Turner’s last days is known.

He had gotten into a 1959 blue Vauxhall June 20, 1969, and left his North Bay home, nattily attired and well groomed.
That was the last time his family would see him alive.

Beverly Turner became concerned that evening when her normally punctual 39-year-old husband didn’t return for dinner and filed a missing person report.

Two days later the Vauxhall was found in the parking lot of a Sault Ste. Marie shopping centre, but there was still no sign of Turner.

His bound and gagged body was discovered in the Veuve River, west of Warren, July 24, 34 days after he’d departed his home.

Trail goes cold
The subsequent police investigation showed Turner had been asphyxiated before being tossed into the river, and that he’d been dead less than 72 hours prior to the discovery of his body.

He was clean-shaven and bare-chested, and, with the exception of the shirt, wearing the same clothes he’d left North Bay in.

The trail goes cold from there.

There were other circumstances, but they haven’t been conclusively linked to the murder, Cardwell said.
For example, Turner had had an extra-marital affair, but both his girlfriend and her husband had been cleared.

“That aspect was extensively investigated,” Cardwell said, “and I’m confident that affair does not have anything to do with Turner’s demise, although that possibility still remains.”

The other thing that intrigues Cardwell is where Turner had been during the 34-day period.

“He was obviously someplace where he was able to care of himself because he was clean-shaven and well fed,” Cardwell said.

Piece of the puzzle
Many of the tips received—and they come from as far away as 200 kilometres from North Bay—include new information, Cardwell said, but none, to this point, have led to the answer.

Still Cardwell holds out hope that someone who has the critical piece of the puzzle will come forward.

“As time marches on the odds of resolving this case diminish,” Cardwell said.

“Still I always maintain that as people grow older and mature, their views on things that have happened in the past changes, or perhaps they’ve been in a relationship that’s changed, and then they feel more comfortable about contacting police with the information they have.”

Get some answers
Cardwell acknowledges there’s a “distinct” possibility the killer may no longer be alive.

“Even if this case doesn’t end up involving the court process, by being able to solve it, it still allows us to take a look at the person responsible,” Cardwell said.

“It also allows the family of the victim to get some answers and move on with their lives.”