The communities of Silver Creek and the Shuswap are reeling with the news of the extensive search taking place at the Salmon River Road property and the discovery of human remains on that site.
One neighbour, who asked not to be identified, called the situation a bad dream.
“It’s like some TV crime show, except it’s happening right down the road. It’s pretty scary to think of what might have been taking place almost right under your nose.”
Police note there is one man in custody, Curtis Wayne Sagmoen, however, no specific criminal charges have been laid against Sagmoen in relation to the search of the property at this time.
According to court documents, Curtis Wayne Sagmoen is currently in custody and charged with the following: disguising face with the intent to commit offence, intentionally discharging a firearm while reckless, uttering threats, careless use or storage of a firearm, possessing a weapon for dangerous purpose and possession of controlled substance.
The majority of charges against Sagmoen, who was born in 1980, stem from an incident in Falkland on Aug. 27.
His first court appearance was on Oct. 17 at the Vernon law courts.
Sagmoen’s address is listed in the phone book as 2290 Salmon River Road. RCMP began a search of that property on Thursday, Oct. 19.
The Observer has learned Curtis was living with his parents, Wayne and Evelyn Sagmoen, on a semi-permanent basis.
Neighbours of the property indicate Curtis was known to leave for work in either Northern Alberta or B.C. for periods of time and then return to the home and help with farm work.
Both the father and son share a similar name, with the father commonly known as Wayne and the son going by Curtis.
A neighbour who also notes her family was friends with the Sagmoen family, including Curtis, says they are in complete shock at what is happening at the property and the confirmation of human remains being found on site.
“I guess there is a lot we don’t know, that’s important to remember, but it is like a bad dream,” said the neighbour, who asked not to be identified. “They were just the sweetest people, all of them. My kids loved to go over there and see their horses, we’d pick apples, we’d help them out from time to time, like neighbours do. We helped clean horse stalls, that kind of thing. There were times when her husband and son would be away working at the camps or something, and so we’d give her a hand.”
The neighbour says the family farm, which is about 27 acres in size, was a source of revenue for the family, with some horses, cattle, chickens and even a couple of buffalo. The Observer has learned RCMP have brought in outside contractors to care for the animals as none of the residents are being permitted to live on the property at this time.
“They were kind of private, but we got to know them over the years,” says the neighbour, who said they met the family after a Silver Creek community New Year’s party about five or six years ago. “They were hardworking and would help you out if you needed something – Curtis too.”
The neighbour describes Curtis as “a bit rough,” skinny with light brown hair, blue eyes and approximately 5-foot-seven in height.
“He had no teeth, and he was not always the best-kept guy, dirty clothes and kind of messy. But he was always polite and sweet, smiling and would always say hello.”
She says Curtis never showed serious signs he was a drug addict or acted in strange or threatening ways.
“I never would have let my kids around him, if that was the case. He didn’t give that impression at all. He was rough looking, that’s all,” says the neighbour. “I always thought he was a real nice guy and they were a really nice family.”
“When I first saw the cops, I thought, maybe drugs, but I never, never thought of anything like what is going on there today.”
On Oct. 13, Vernon RCMP reported they were investigating an Okanagan man in relation to an alleged incident involving threats made to a woman. Police said they initially responded to the incident on Aug. 28.
Police said the victim reported that upon arriving at an agreed upon location, the male suspect had allegedly produced a firearm and threatened her.
The victim was able to flee the scene unharmed. Subsequently, investigators arrested a 36-year-old man who resides in the area of Salmon River Road, and is known to frequent the Okanagan and Shuswap areas.
That man was later released however, and no charges were laid. But police released a description of the man and encouraged the public, “and especially escorts and sex workers that they take any measures that they deem necessary to safeguard their personal safety.”
The RCMP’s description of the suspect in the threats case stated: the man is five-foot-six; weighs 140 pounds with blue eyes and dirty blond hair.
Curtis Sagmoen was born in 1980, making him 36 or 37-years-old, depending on his birth date.
Sagmoen is due back in court Oct. 26 in Vernon.