In November, Denise Horvath-Allan flew for the 15th time from the UK to Kelowna, British Columbia. The 69-year-old says it will be her last such trip, but not because her business there is finished. As James McMahon explains in a piece for MEL Magazine, Kelowna is where her 20-year-old son Charles was last seen alive, just shy of 30 years ago. Denise had bought him a plane ticket to Canada in advance of his 21st birthday; he planned to cross the country during a "gap-year pilgrimage to explore his roots" (he was born there, and his father lived in Ontario). McMahon recounts Denise's final two interactions with her son: a 20-minute phone call on April 17, 1989, and a fax he subsequently sent regarding flights for their planned trip to Hong Kong. "Then, nothing," McMahon writes.
The last confirmed sighting of him in the city was on May 26 of that year. Denise phoned police around then after not hearing from Charles for a while, but "their response was to say that 20-year-olds aren't obliged to phone their mothers," she tells McMahon. They didn't open a missing person's file until Aug. 10. McMahon explains that Charles had been staying at the Tiny Tent Town campsite and runs down two rumors on what befell him—in one, he ended up in a septic tank; in the other, a lake. Denise has, for all her efforts, been unable to get the tank tested for DNA. As for the camp, she felt it has "stench of evil." McMahon elaborates on the underbelly of Kelowna itself, which for all its beauty has some dark corners. Meanwhile, Denise is "'running out of life' to find her son." Read the full story here. (Read more Longform stories.)