RCMP suspend southern Manitoba search for missing woman

By | February 11, 2019

RCMP called off the search for a missing 25-year-old woman from Schanzenfeld​, Man., hours after announcing human remains were found near the small southern Manitoba community.

The search for Maria Pluschnik has been called off, RCMP Cpl. Julie Courchain told CBC News Monday night.

The move follows an announcement by RCMP Monday afternoon after a volunteer searcher located human remains of one person in a secluded ravine in the rural municipality of Stanley near Schanzenfeld. The remains were found within miles of where Pluschnik’s abandoned vehicle was found on Sunday.

RCMP have not publicly confirmed the identity of the remains.

Pluschnik was last seen on the evening of Feb. 7, leaving Stanley, police said in a news release Monday. Schanzenfeld is about 100 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, just south of Winkler.

She was driving a green Dodge Caliber, which was found abandoned south of Schanzenfeld three days later, on Feb. 10, at the intersection of Road 22 W. and Road 8 N., police said.

Pluschnik’s family told CBC News that she had just moved back to Schanzenfeld last week after living in Winnipeg for three years. She worked in restaurants in Winnipeg and was taking culinary classes. Her family immigrated to Canada from Germany when she was about 10 years old, her brother Michael said. The night she went missing she told family she was going to McDonald’s.

RCMP have been searching for Pluschnik with police dogs and on snowmobile since she went missing. (Submitted by family)

RCMP say they believe Pluschnik may have been headed to a business in Winkler, but officers don’t believe she made it there.

“It looked like she had gotten stuck in a snowdrift,” RCMP Courchaine said, and it appears the vehicle may have been stuck for some time.

“She had left her cellphone at home,” Courchaine said.

Much of southwestern Manitoba was under an extreme cold warning on Feb. 7. Temperatures dropped to a low of –25 C in Winkler.

Courchaine said Pluschnik’s vehicle was found just over three kilometres from her residence and just over two kilometres from other residences.

Pluschnik’s car was found stuck in a snow drift outside of Schanzenfeld, Man. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC )

Officers have been out searching the area, including on snowmobiles and with police dogs, but haven’t found any trace of Pluschnik.

Officers still aren’t sure of the circumstances of her disappearance or if foul play may have been involved.

“Right now there’s nothing to indicate that they are suspicious,” said Courchaine. “There’s nothing that would lead us to believe that. However, things can change.

“We want to find her safe.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 204-822-5469.

RCMP continue to investigate.