After a thorough investigation spanning close to two months, Merritt RCMP and the Southeast District Major Crime Unit have deemed the disappearance of Merritt cowboy Ben Tyner as suspicious.
Tyner was reported missing on Jan. 28 when his riderless horse was discovered on a logging road off Hwy 97C near Winnie Flats.
According to Sgt. Jannelle Shoihet, initially, there was nothing to indicate criminality. She adds that after reviewing all the evidence, a few pieces aren't adding up.
"Having investigated for the last two months, investigators are putting all the pieces together, it's like a big puzzle and a couple of the pieces aren't quite fitting where they should be fitting," said Shoihet. "It's leading them to believe that Mr. Tyner did not go missing of his own volition. There is some criminality related to his disappearance."
Shoihet mentioned that Tyner was well liked by the community and had never been involved in criminal activity.
"It could have been anything really, at this point we can just say that we are still holding up hope that he will turn up but his body has not yet been recovered and he hasn't walked home so until we have some definitive evidence to support he isn't coming home, we're going to continue to hold up hope."
RCMP recently received some dashcam footage in regards to the investigation, but nothing that has pushed it forward.
"We did get some information turned over to us...I think we are still missing a couple of pieces in regards to that as well so, if you have not already, if you are in possession of dashcam video from that weekend (January 27th-28th) and you were in and around the Merritt area and haven't turned it into police we would be interested in seeing that."
Shoihet went on to say that with the Spring heat wave coming, a much larger patrol and search would be conducted in the area.
Anyone with information on Tyner's disappearance is asked to call the Southeast Districts Major Crimes' tipline at 1-877-987-8477.