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HOUGHTON COUNTY — Local 3 has covered the case of Leah Harding since the Houghton County woman went missing four years ago. Yesterday, we began with part one of Leah’s story. You can find that here. Today, we continue with part two of the three part report.
Leah hadn’t been seen or heard from in two weeks. The last person she was seen with was her boyfriend Camiel VanHaecke, who previously served time for kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, and criminal sexual conduct. They were last seen on April 30, 2015 at the BP gas station in Baraga. From there, Camiel says he dropped Leah off at her mom’s house.
“No, he didn’t and at that point I knew something horrible happened,” says Leah’s mom, Camie Harding.
Camie reported Leah missing to the Houghton County Sheriff’s office. She says it took officers days to come out to investigate. In fact, the first person on scene was Michigan State Trooper Pat Butler who was not even assigned to the case.
“The Detective at the time, Rosemergy, never sat down with her. Never did a face to face interview with her. You gotta hear the rage, you gotta hear the emotions, you gotta listen to it. That’s where I helped, is because I took the time to listen to her.” explains Butler, now a retired Michigan State Trooper.
Butler goes on to say that she was allowed to look at the file the Sheriff’s office had on the investigation. She says they had a mass of information about Leah’s case making it clear to her that they put in a lot of hard work. But one major item seemed to be missing…nowhere in the file did it say police interviewed Leah’s boyfriend on her disappearance. Again, he was the last person Leah was seen with.
“Who knows if he ever interviewed him. It’s not in their records,” says Butler.
Butler says maybe she was just not given that information, which certainly could be the case.Remember, yesterday we learned that a text was sent from Leah to her cousin saying if anything happened to her to look at Camiel who had been abusive to Leah. According to the family, that text was never viewed by police. Leah’s family says they feel the Sheriff’s office did not do all they could during the investigation.
“We need your help to find and bring Leah home or do your job and question more,” says Brandi Cote, Leah’s cousin.
So what does Leah’s family think happened? They believe that Leah knew and perhaps helped Camiel break in to cabins, something he was later arrested for, and confronted Camiel during an argument threatening to turn him in to the police. Leah’s mom believes Camiel killed Leah to avoid going back to prison.”
She says, “Camiel killed Leah. I knew it at that point.”
When asked by reporter Korinne Griffith if she thinks Camiel was capable of killing Leah, retired Trooper Pat Butler said this:
“Oh yes. Not a doubt in my mind.”
No charges were ever brought against Camiel in the Leah Harding case and these are just allegations.
We will have more on Leah’s story and what’s happened in the four years since she’s gone missing, including an update on her daughter Carly, tomorrow on Local 3 News at 6/5c.
If you know anything about the disappearance of Leah Harding, contact the
Houghton County Sheriff’s Office at (906) 482 – 0055.
You can also submit an anonymous tip online at www.crimestoppersusa.org.
See PART ONE of this story HERE.