Almost five years to the date since RCMP reported a high-risk man from Port Alberni, BC went missing, he was found alive.
Despite this typically being a positive update, the case has taken an unusual turn as the man who was found insists he is not the missing person.
In October 2017, Brandon Gabriel Cairney was meant to make it into an appointment, but he was never seen or heard from again by his family.
The 31-year-old’s loved ones and police said they were worried about his well-being because he had a brain injury and faced daily challenges.
But on Friday, September 23, the host of the Island Crime podcast that highlights missing persons’ cases received a message saying, “one of your Vancouver Island missing men turned up.”
Journalist and podcast host Laura Palmer narrowed down whom the tipster was referencing after she spoke with Brandon’s uncle Mark Cairney.
In an updated podcast episode, Mark said RCMP told Brandon’s family he had been found in Burnaby sleeping on a park bench.
The man they found was identified as Brandon because his fingerprints matched, but “he insists he is not Brandon,” Mark told Palmer.
“He has apparently been in the US for the last five years, going by a different name,” he said. “It sounds like he wishes to carry on with who he claims to be and seems to have no desire to contact family. We’re all trying to let it sink in. We’re grateful that he’s alive. It’s good to know. And we’ll let him continue on. If he chooses to contact any of us, that will be great. But that’s his choice.”
— Laura Palmer🎧 Island Crime 🔎 (@palmerla) September 24, 2022
Burnaby RCMP confirmed with Daily Hive that the man reported missing in 2017 in Port Alberni was found Thursday, September 22, and was arrested on an outstanding warrant
“The details of his locations and actions for the previous years are still being determined, however, unless there is an operational need, we cannot confirm his identity,” Mounties added.
Mark also told Palmer that a police officer described the missing man as polite, non-confrontational, and seemingly healthy.
“That’s all we know at this time. So we’ll see what the future brings,” Mark said.
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Mark added that the Canadian Border Services Agency was involved.
He said the CBSA released Brandon and helped take him back across the border.
The CBSA was not able to provide much detail to the family Mark said because of confidentiality.
“He’s an adult. He didn’t show any interest in connecting with anybody,” he explained.
Daily Hive has reached out to Port Alberni RCMP but did not receive a response in time for the deadline.
When reaching out to the CBSA for more information about this unusual case, the agency declined to comment.
The CBSA explained it is bound by the Privacy Act in regards to personal information and does not provide details on specific cases.
“What we can tell you is that the CBSA works closely with Canadian and US law enforcement partners to ensure the safety and security of our shared border. This includes cooperating on activities such as identifying wanted or missing persons,” an email response reads.
It’s not clear why Brandon returned to Canada.
“It almost is anybody’s guess,” Mark said.