March 6, 2018

On a mild November night in 1984, a petite, blonde woman just shy of her 20th birthday left a St. John's bar with plans of returning 20 minutes later.

Now, more than three decades later, Pamela Asprey's family still waits for news on their lost loved one, and investigators continue to be stumped by one of the oldest missing persons cases in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Asprey had left her home in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in central Labrador in 1981, after her father died of a massive heart attack.

Soon after, Asprey moved to St. John's with her mother. The third of six children, Asprey often travelled to the Maritimes and as far as Winnipeg, where one of her sisters was living. 

She always hitchhiked.

"She was blonde, she was little, she was sassy, she was mouthy," Alice Lefurgey, her aunt, said in an interview.

Lefurgey, who shares the same steel blue eyes and spunk as her niece, is now 72. She was still in her 30s when Asprey vanished. 

To this day, she reflects fondly on her daredevil niece, who she says was always welcome in her New Brunswick home.

"No matter what trouble Pam was in, she came to me. She hitchhiked from Goose Bay, I don't know how many times," she said.

"If she were alive, she'd be back with me now. That's the only thing that tells me that something's happened to her."

Nov. 12, 1984

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's timeline of what happened to Asprey begins on McGrath Place off Higgins Line in the east end of St. John's.  

According to witnesses, Asprey left her boarding house at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, 1984.

Like always, she hitchhiked, and was picked up a short distance away from her home. Police later identified and spoke with the driver. 

The driver took Asprey to Martin's Lounge on Water Street — it's now known as Erin's Pub — where she spent several hours socializing with friends. Nothing was out of the ordinary. 

Asprey told her friends at the bar that she was walking to Duckworth Street and she'd be back in 20 minutes.

Perhaps she was so certain she'd be back that she left her wallet behind. 

Around 9 p.m., Asprey told witnesses that a man in a dark blue vehicle was attempting to pick her up. Witnesses described the driver as having a large build, and wearing a baseball hat.

Asprey, who was working in the sex trade, got in the vehicle with him in front of the War Memorial. 

The car pulled away.

That was the last time anyone saw or heard from Pam Asprey.

Reported missing 2 days later

"She didn't show up Monday night, she didn't show up Tuesday night. And on Wednesday morning, I called police," roommate Beth Bishop said in an interview with CBC News three months after Asprey vanished. 

Her disappearance frightened women in the area, and sparked rumours of a possible serial killer on the loose.

Asprey was the third woman to go missing under similar circumstances in downtown St. John's since 1978. The others were named Sharon Drover and Henrietta Millek. 

Teenager Dana Bradley was also found dead in 1981, in a murder case that remains unsolved. 

"Truthfully, I think she's dead. I'd say some maniac or someone got her," Marion Hiscock, a bartender at Martin's Lounge, told CBC News in 1985.

"It seems like every year now in the winter months around Christmas time, there's girls missing."

It's important to note, though, that police have no evidence to connect the cases. 

Asprey's disappearance hit the Evening Telegram weeks later. The small story was sandwiched between letters to Santa and Christmas sales — with the headline: 'City woman missing.'

Since then, very little movement has happened on the case. Police were left with no clues.

 'My love for her is unconditional and my looking for her is unconditional. And I don't think it will stop until the day I die.' — Alice Lefurgey

No evidence. No leads. No suspects. 

A Canada-wide search was launched because of Asprey's propensity to hitchhike. But it didn't turn up anything.

Both Asprey's aunt and sister said Asprey had told them she was in a relationship with a Portuguese sailor.

Lefurgey said her niece told her the mystery man was arriving in St. John's in December and they had plans of returning to Portugal. That never happened. 

Last Seen Ep. 1: Who took Pam?

Who was driving the blue car?

Throughout the years, the file has been passed down to different investigators. RNC Insp. Tom Warren is the latest to inherit the file.

With so many changes in investigative techniques and technology since 1984, Warren's task is a difficult one.

"It's just going over the file from Day 1, from the very first person that provided a witness statement, advising that Pamela left her residence for downtown and looking at that statement in its totality and looking at the amount of statements we have obtained," Warren said.

"More so the last couple of years, trying to concentrate on the owner or the person operating that blue vehicle on the night in question."

Warren said it's a possibility Asprey was killed by the man who picked her up that night.

It's also a possibility that she was dropped off somewhere else. 

Without finding the driver, it will likely remain a mystery that's growing colder by each passing November. 

'She wasn't garbage'

Back in Pine Glen, N.B., Lefurgey is constantly reminded of her niece, but tries her best not to theorize on what may have happened.

The possibilities are too painful. 

"She did whatever she had to do to get along, to make a living and that to me is totally acceptable," Lefurgey said.

"No matter what she did, I loved her. And my love for her is unconditional and my looking for her is unconditional. And I don't think it will stop until the day I die."

Every November, Lefurgey writes a Facebook post about her missing niece in hopes it'll help solve the mystery.

She reflects on stories she remembers well, like when Asprey shipped her luggage to her aunt's with a note inside saying she'd see her soon. She was hitchhiking there. 

"Whoever killed her, I want them to know they took someone of value. She wasn't garbage. She was a valuable person … in my life, in her brother's and sister's lives," Lefurgey said.

"May God have mercy on their soul. I forgive them ... That's hard, but I do."

CBC's special series Last Seen takes a deeper look at missing persons cases in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The next instalment will be released on March 13.