Marshal Iwaasa was 26 years old when he was last seen seen on November 17, 2019 in Lethbridge, AB. He lives in Calgary, AB but on November 17 he went to Lethbridge to visit his mom. Six days later, his truck was mysteriously found burned down in the backcountry of Pemberton, BC. Marshal’s family and friends have helped his story reach nation-wide headlines, but his case remains unsolved.
“Once you get to know him, he comes out of his shell”Paige Fogen
Marshal Iwaasa was born on January 3rd, 1993 in Lethbridge, AB. He has one older sister, Paige Fogen. Paige says Marshal has always been a pretty quiet guy. “That’s the biggest difference between me and him. He’s quite introverted and shy, but once you get to know him he comes out of his shell.”
Marshal enjoyed playing rugby and football. He had a core group of friends from junior high all the way through high school, and when he started new hobbies like going to the gym, he met people there too. “He fit in with a whole bunch of different people” says Paige. After graduating high school, Marshal worked for a few years.
In 2014 Paige moved to Hawaii with her husband, but despite the distance between her and her brother, they remained close. Marshal would visit her every Christmas, and since their birthdays are seven days apart, they celebrated them together too. “It’s like a big part of what he does.” she says.
Before Paige left for Hawaii, her and Marshal decided to get a storage locker for their belongings. They picked a storage locker that had 24 hour access, and required a unique code to get in.
In 2018, Marshal decided to go back to school. He moved to Calgary in August and enrolled at SAIT, a community college, where he studied software development. “He was trying to be an adult, he had just gotten his first apartment,” says Paige.
”I noticed that when he got into SAIT, it was harder to get a hold of him” she says she attributed his distancing to being in school and stressed with homework and finals. However, they would still talk every week or two.
In July-August of 2019, Paige and her husband flew down to Canada for a couple of weeks to go camping with her in-laws and attend a family reunion. She says Marshal was treated like family by them and was invited to tag along. “Everything seemed fine. He talked to me about what it was like in school, how he was doing, what he wanted to do. Nothing seemed too off”
In the two months leading up to his disappearance, Paige says Marshal was taking weeks to reply to her messages. This was around the time when they would book his flights to Hawaii for Christmas, so she tried to get in touch with him about that. “Before he went missing it was harder to get a hold of him, I did notice that. Me and my husband had talked a lot about ‘is he avoiding us?’”
She says she thought he may have been using apps like snapchat to contact people, and since she doesn’t use snapchat, she reached out to a few of his friends to see if they could get a hold of him. However, they could not. The last time he messaged her was in October.
Photo By Lara Fominoff, Lethbridge News NOW
On November 17th, Marshal went to Lethbridge, AB to visit his mom and get a computer box from his storage unit. He attempted to get into the unit just after 11:00 p.m., but it was closed. Paige says they initially rented a unit because it had 24 hr access, but the owners of the facility changed at some point and the hours of availability changed – so they could no longer access the facility between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. She believes Marshal likely did not know this, which is why he tried to access it when it was closed.
Paige believes Marshal slept in his vehicle until 6:00 a.m. when he could access the unit. She says that was not out of character as they had slept in his vehicle before when they missed border hours. When Marshal finally could access the unit, he was there for about two hours, and then left.
The video footage that would have been available, was automatically erased after a few days, so it was too late for the police to access it. Therefore, it is not known whether he was alone, or what he took out of the unit. However, when Paige went back with the police to do a search of the unit, she says nothing significant was missing.
On November 23rd, Marshal’s truck was found burned-down in the backcountry out of Pemberton, B.C by hikers, who alerted police. Police did not get to the site until the 25th – which is when they reached out to Marshal’s family. When his family couldn’t get a hold of him, they reported him missing that same day.
Police went through his phone records. They found that Marshal’s phone had been cut off since early November, meaning he was not paying for a phone plan. Paige says she did not know this, but it didn’t surprise her when she found out. She thought he maybe couldn’t afford a phone plan, but didn’t want to tell anyone.
“That would be exactly my brother. If he couldn’t afford it, he would turn it off.” She says there were other times when he would go without a phone plan for a couple of months and be ok with it. He would just message her through email or whatsapp. “He was so nonchalant about not having a phone,” she says.
Police also found out he was not enrolled in school prior to his disappearance, and his family was not aware of this. In an interview with Global News, Marshal’s mom Tammy Johnson reacted to the news by saying “Marshal just wasn’t ready to tell us he wasn’t going to school, that would be a hard thing to do, to tell your family,”
DISTANCE FROM LETHBRIDGE, AB TO PEMBERTON, BC
TIMELINE of Marshal’s disappearance
November 17, 2019
Marshal went to Lethbridge to visit his mom and grab a computer part from the storage locker.
November 17, 2019
At around 11:30 p.m., Marshal attempted to get in the storage locker but couldn’t access it because it was closed, so it is believed by family that he spent the night in his vehicle until the next morning. This was not out of character for him to do.
November 18, 2019
At around 6:00 a.m., Marshal finally got in the unit and was in there for about two hours.
November 23, 2019
A group of hikers found Marshal’s burned-down truck in the backcountry of Pemberton, B.C and were suspicious, so they contacted the RCMP.
November 25, 2019
Pemberton RCMP visited the truck site and contacted Marshal’s family to let them know his truck was found. After several attempts to contact Marshal failed, his family reported him missing.
Initial Search Efforts
Marshal’s vehicle was found by hikers, who also discovered some of his clothing and items around the vehicle location. One of the hikers, James Starke, told Global News reporters that he and a group of friends had set out to visit the remote Brian Waddington Hut north of Pemberton, B.C.
“At the trail head, we came across a pickup truck that had been completely torched, but it looked like it had been torched, you know, extremely aggressively,” James Starke said. The group felt uneasy about the situation so they took photos, and drove back into an area with cellphone service to call Pemberton RCMP.
In a press release, Investigators say there is a “discrepancy between photos taken by the original hikers who located the scene and called police and RCMP photos taken when officers arrived some time later.” Police do not indicate what time they received the tip and what time they followed-up on it.
They say “It is possible other backcountry users encountered the items prior to RCMP arrival, and police are asking anyone who may have happened across the scene and inadvertently disturbed the items, to come forward.” When police arrived on scene, they examined the truck where it was found because due to the winter conditions at the time, it was “physically impossible to have a tow truck access and remove the truck”
Police say all evidence that was seized from Marshal’s vehicle was forensically processed and retained for potential DNA testing. Right now the evidence cannot be DNA tested by the RCMP crime lab unless officers have reasonable grounds to believe a DNA-designated criminal offence has been committed. They say “At this time no such evidence or grounds exist.” which means they have deemed Marshal’s disappearance as suspicious, but not criminal in nature.
Police found that prior to his disappearance, Marshal hid the fact that he had stopped attending post-secondary classes prior to his disappearance. They say, “In examining Iwaasa’s personal affairs in the months leading up to his disappearance – including interviews with close friends as well as his financial, medical and social media activity – there is evidence to suggest he was experiencing stress in his life and had become withdrawn.” It is unclear whether this conclusion is based on the investigator’s personal judgement, or a psychologist or other expert evaluation.
Investigators say they continue to monitor Iwaasa’s personal affairs including potential personal contacts as well as social media, phone, medical and financial activity. They state they have not found any “footprints of life.” Although police have shared most of their findings with Marshal’s family, not everything has made public to protect the integrity of the investigation. This includes additional details and insights into the circumstances, scene and evidence.
Investigation & Search
November – December 2019
RCMP conducted a ground search and retrieved cellphones and a laptop, as well as other electronics, his current passport and an expired passport. According to Paige, Marshal always carried his passport in his glove compartment, along with old, broken cell phones.
Searches of the area were conducted by helicopter, ground personnel, dogs and underwater at a nearby creek, but RCMP found no sign of him. The search was suspended for the winter.
Police appealed to gas stations and convenience stores along any of the possible routes to check their surveillance video for Iwaasa, or his truck — a dark blue 2009 GMC Sierra, with Alberta licence plate BLL 1099.
Ground search was conducted by family and friends in Lethbridge Alberta.
Lethbridge police confirmed with Marshal’s family that he was seen at Sherring and Churchill Industrial Park around 8:30 a.m. on November 18.
The family made a plea to anyone in the Sherring and Churchill Industrial Park area or businesses nearby to review their security camera footage from November.
Police issue a press release stating a new search was underway. A helicopter and all-terrain vehicles are being used to access the search site. Police said an RCMP fire investigator, several private investigators and members of the Canadian Search and Disaster Dogs Association would be conducting a ground search.
Paige and her husband relocate to Canada from Hawaii to be a part of all search efforts.
A team by the name of 4LOW B.C. reached out to Paige and family and offered to take them to the truck site in Pemberton, B.C.
They took vehicles equipped and well-prepared to drive in the rough terrain. Paige says they studied the map to the site extremely well so they knew exactly where they needed to go. The drive should have only been 13 hours from Lethbridge; However, it took the group 32 hours both ways due to unexpected incidents and several patches of area where there is absolutely no cell service.
She says Marshal had no ties to British Columbia and would not have known the area at all, let alone the backcountry of Pemberton. She says after visiting the site it solidified to her that Marshal did not go there out of his own will.
She also says her family has reason to believe Iwaasa’s vehicle has been stripped of parts after examining it at the site.
Paige also remembered that Marshal had just paid off his truck in full in September, so she does not understand why he would completely burn it. She also says some broken gaming devices were found which she believes were not Marshal’s.
Paige and her family are wanting Marshal’s case to be deemed criminal in nature so it can be investigated by a specialized team of investigators, which could lead to a new break through in Marshal’s case.
To date, police say they have looked into and checked all available avenues and known sources of information to determine Iwaasa’s movements including CCTV footage from businesses, highway traffic monitoring images, national park/gate camera footage and made requests for dash cam footage from members of the public. At this time there is no known CCTV footage of Iwaasa or his vehicle after he went missing.
Iwaasa has been listed as missing with the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR) and his DNA and dental records are on file to aid in identification if remains are later located. Investigators say they are conducting interviews with several individuals who may have information on Iwaasa’s disappearance, continue to check various databases and will follow-up on new leads.
Iwaasa is described as five feet, 11 inches tall and approximately 170 pounds, with brown eyes, a moustache and shoulder-length brown hair, usually worn tied back. He was last seen wearing a green hoodie, grey tuque, red high-top shoes and black pants.
Anyone with information about Marshal Iwaasa is asked to come forward. LPS has jurisdiction of the investigation and can be reached by calling 403-328-4444. To remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at http://www.p3tips.com.
REWARD AVAILABLE FOR ANYONE WITH INFORMATION LEADING TO THE WHEREABOUTS OF MARSHAL
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