Amber Tuccaro, a 20-year-old member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation tribe, mysteriously disappeared after hitchhiking in Alberta in 2010.
Her tragic case remains unsolved, but Tuccaro managed to capture audio of her suspected killer’s voice – a key piece of evidence in the puzzling case. Still, critics argue poor police work has stifled the investigation.
Tuccaro’s determined family continues to demand justice and accountability. Read on for the full story of Amber Tuccaro’s disappearance and the ongoing fight to find her killer.
Who is Amber Tuccaro?
Amber Alyssa Tuccaro was born on January 3, 1990, in Alberta, Canada. She was a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation tribe and grew up in the Fort Chipewyan area.
At the time of her disappearance in 2010, the 20-year-old Tuccaro was living in Fort McMurray with her mother, Tootsie Tuccaro, and her 14-month-old son Jacob.
She was very close with her family, especially her mother whom she kept in daily contact with through frequent text messages.
Though she loved her son deeply, Tuccaro struggled financially to provide for the two of them as a single mother.
She moved between her family’s home in Fort Chipewyan and a local women’s shelter in Fort McMurray called The Waypoints Shelter.
The situation was difficult, but Tuccaro remained extremely devoted to her young son.
Her background provides insight into the systemic issues that Aboriginal women face, including poverty and lack of resources.
Days Leading to the Disappearance of Amber Tuccaro
In August 2010, Amber Tuccaro flew from her home in Fort McMurray to Edmonton, Alberta with her 14-month-old son Jacob and a female friend named Evangeline.
They booked a room at the Nisku Place Motel in Nisku, Alberta to save money instead of staying in Edmonton.
On August 17, 2010, the day they arrived at the motel, Tuccaro decided that she wanted to go into the city of Edmonton that night rather than waiting until the next day as originally planned.
She left her infant son Jacob with Evangeline at the motel and set off to hitchhike into Edmonton.
Tuccaro’s mother Tootsie Tuccaro became worried when Amber suddenly stopped responding to her frequent text messages. The two normally stayed in close communication throughout each day.
When Evangeline was unable to reach Tuccaro either, she contacted Tootsie the next morning to report that Amber had left during the night and not returned.
Disappearance of Amber Tuccaro
After Amber Tuccaro failed to return to the Nisku motel on August 18, 2010, her friend Evangeline contacted Tuccaro’s mother Tootsie to report her missing.
Tootsie Tuccaro then called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to officially report her daughter missing.
According to Tootsie Tuccaro, the RCMP did not take Amber’s disappearance seriously at first. She says the police told her “well maybe she’s out partying and she will call or whatever” and did not seem concerned.
The RCMP did not interview Tootsie Tuccaro about her daughter’s disappearance for 4 months after she was reported missing.
They also reportedly told the family they needed to wait 24 hours before investigating since Amber was an adult.
On August 28, 2010, just 10 days after Tuccaro’s disappearance, the RCMP issued a press release stating they did not believe Amber was in any danger.
They claimed to have a sighting of her in the Edmonton area and closed her missing persons case.
However, it was later revealed that this alleged sighting of Tuccaro was never confirmed. The RCMP provided no proof that she had actually been seen and was safe.
Her family immediately demanded that the RCMP re-open Amber’s missing person case, which they reluctantly did.
The RCMP’s unwillingness to take Tuccaro’s disappearance seriously right away likely stalled the investigation from the very beginning.
Criticism of RCMP Initial Investigation
The RCMP faced heavy criticism over their handling of Amber Tuccaro’s disappearance in the initial days and weeks after she went missing.
According to the Tuccaro family, the police downplayed their concerns and failed to adequately investigate the case right away.
Some key criticisms of the RCMP’s early investigation include:
- Telling the family that Amber was “probably out partying” and dismissing their concerns that something was wrong
- Failing to interview Tuccaro’s family and friends for 4 months after she went missing
- Removing Amber from the missing persons list after just one month based on an unconfirmed sighting
- Destroying Tuccaro’s belongings from the Nisku motel, losing potential evidence
- Not contacting the woman (Evangeline) who traveled with Amber to Nisku and was the last to see her
- Waiting a full year before releasing the audio recording of Amber’s call with her suspected killer
An independent review by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission in 2018 found the RCMP’s initial investigation was “deficient” and that officers did not follow policies and procedures.
The RCMP’s mishandling of the early stages of the investigation resulted in lost time, evidence, and trust from Tuccaro’s family.
Discovery of Remains of Amber Tuccaro in Edmonton Metropolitan Area
On September 1, 2012, over two years after Amber Tuccaro went missing, her remains were discovered by horseback riders in a field in Leduc County, Alberta.
Leduc County is part of the greater Edmonton metropolitan area and is located southeast of the city.
Tuccaro’s incomplete skeletonized remains were found by the riders around noon that day. The RCMP were called to the scene and secured the area.
The location was a rural farmer’s field near the area of Township Road 510 and Range Road 233.
The remains were positively identified as Amber Tuccaro through dental records.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy and concluded she had been murdered, but the exact cause of death could not be determined due to the condition of her remains.
Notably, the field where Tuccaro’s body was located was a 17-minute drive away from the Nisku motel where she was last seen.
This matched the duration of the chilling phone call recording between Tuccaro and her suspected killer as he drove her away from the motel.
The discovery of her remains two years after she first disappeared prompted Amber Tuccaro’s family to sharply criticize the RCMP’s handling of the investigation.
They believed police could have found her sooner if they had searched more thoroughly near the motel.
Phone Call with Suspected Killer
On August 28, 2012, the RCMP released a chilling audio recording of a phone call between Amber Tuccaro and an unidentified man believed to be her killer.
Tuccaro had made the call on August 18, 2010 – the night she disappeared – to her brother who was incarcerated at the time.
The call lasted 17 minutes and was recorded by the correctional facility, as all inmate calls are.
In the portion of the call released by the RCMP, Tuccaro can be heard questioning the man about where he is taking her.
The man claims they are heading “north of Beaumont” and “east” towards 50th Street in Edmonton.
However, investigators believe the man was lying and actually drove Tuccaro southeast of Nisku into rural Leduc County.
The call captures Tuccaro realizing the man’s intentions are sinister as she presses him on their route.
At one point, Tuccaro directly confronts the man, saying,
“You better not be taking me anywhere I don’t want to go.”
The man insists he is taking her to Edmonton. Based on the call, the RCMP is certain this man is responsible for Tuccaro’s murder.
The call proved that Tuccaro was trying to secretly record her interactions with the driver, likely sensing she was in danger.
Her quick thinking provided key evidence, even if it tragically could not save her life.
Continued Failure in Investigation
Even after Amber Tuccaro’s remains were discovered in 2012, the RCMP continued to face criticism over their handling of the investigation into her disappearance and murder.
The police eliminated a suspect based on weak evidence after multiple witnesses identified him as the voice on the recorded call with Tuccaro.
This suspect had a criminal record of violence against women, but RCMP determined he was not a person of interest despite the witnesses.
In another misstep, the RCMP did not aggressively pursue other strong leads that came forward.
A man contacted the RCMP saying his father, a convicted murderer, may have been involved in Tuccaro’s case and other disappearances.
However, investigators seemingly did not take his statement seriously.
On July 25, 2019, Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki publicly apologized to the Tuccaro family for the “deficient” investigation and said the RCMP’s investigation “was not our best work”.
This apology came 11 months after the release of a scathing 120-page report in 2018 detailing the RCMP’s severe mishandling of the case.
However, Amber’s family rejected Zablocki’s belated apology, as it did little to provide justice.
The 2018 report highlighted the continued failures, missed opportunities, and lack of urgency by the RCMP in solving Tuccaro’s murder.
Despite having critical evidence, the RCMP’s compounding mistakes prevented justice. Her killer still walked free.
Family’s Continued Fight for Justice
Despite the failures of the investigation, Amber Tuccaro’s determined family continues to fight for justice and accountability.
Amber’s mother, Tootsie Tuccaro, is now raising Amber’s son Jacob, who was just 14 months old when Amber went missing.
“We’re never going to give up, ever. We’re not going anywhere and he [murderer] needs to know that. The people who are not coming forward and know who he is, they’re just as guilty.”
In July 2019, the Tuccaro family rejected the RCMP’s formal apology for the deficient investigation, seeing it as too little too late.
They continue to demand the RCMP be held accountable for their missteps.
The family has also increased the reward money for any information leading to an arrest to $5,000.
They started a social media campaign called “Justice for Amber” to raise awareness of Amber’s unsolved case.
The family pleads for anyone with any information at all to come forward. They believe answers are still out there.
Amber Tuccaro’s tragic story illustrates the broader crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.
Her disappearance exposed failures in the justice system that prevent accountability and closure for families.
The events leading up to Tuccaro’s disappearance highlight the risks of hitchhiking, a common way for indigenous people to travel due to lack of transportation.
Though a difficult unsolved case, Tuccaro’s determined family continues demanding answers. Share this story to raise awareness of Amber Tuccaro and the fight for justice for indigenous women.
Tuccaro is one of many indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered in the Fort McMurray area. It is part of a broader pattern of violence against native women in Canada.
The Tuccaros’ perseverance provides hope that Amber’s killer may still one-day face consequences. But only by working together as a society can we solve these cases and bring real change.
As of 2023, Amber Tuccaro’s case is still sadly unsolved.
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