For a week a police investigation at the Hidden Valley Campground in New Brunswick was the biggest mystery and best kept secret in the province – making headlines across Canada’s Maritime provinces.
Now one of the men who found his campground and business at the center of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) search has broken his silence, according to the Saint John Telegraph-Journal.
The Mounties, David Weaver said, were looking for a body the campground that he and his father John own. After a week of searching, no body was found and the search was called off Friday (June 26).
The search decimated the Weavers’ business for a week.
The RCMP never divulged what it was searching for. David Weaver said the RCMP told him the tip came from a former resident of the area who is now incarcerated at Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario.
“This guy made an accusation out in Ontario, that he was here, he stayed here and he supposedly buried a body,” Weaver said. “I knew this guy who said this and he’s in Kingston Pen right now.
“He was just trying to be tough,” Weaver said about why the man would have given the police such information.
Last Monday, a dozen RCMP officers, including the forensic team from Fredericton, descended on the idyllic 630-acre campground that is a 35-minute drive from Saint John.
Sgt. Claude Tremblay of the RCMP wouldn’t confirm or deny Weaver’s assertions.
“We were told we were going to find something in a certain spot and we didn’t find anything, so it’s irrelevant what we were looking for at the time,” Tremblay said.
Those details, he said, will never be released.
Police cordoned off the campground and allowed in only two campers who were long-term residents.
“I won’t make up the money that I lost,” Weaver said. “I won’t get that back.”
Tremblay said the campground’s owners should contact the RCMP if they suffered financial losses during the search.
“That’s a case for him to make to the RCMP,” Tremblay said.
Beyond the lost business, the disruption took a even more dire toll on the family. John Weaver, David’s father, was admitted to the Saint John Regional Hospital Sunday night with high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate.
“I believe he’s OK,” his son said. “They’re just going to run a bunch of tests. He’s not overly well to begin with, but all this hoo-hah that’s been going on just sent him over the edge. Stressed him right out.”
The father and son were tight-lipped when speaking with the media while the search was going on. Police had said early on that the Weavers were not the target of the investigation.
“I can’t blame them for doing their job, but they could have given us some heads-up or warning,” Weaver said of the RCMP. “It’s not like they just thought about it that day.”
The father and son built the campground in 1995.
Hidden Valley, which has 56 sites and cabins, lost a number of bookings after police shut down the campground. Weaver said campers began to trickle through the gates after the RCMP left Friday, but much of the traffic consisted of busybodies.
“More onlookers than anything. Period,” Weaver said.
The owner of the New Brunswick campground that is currently at the center of a mysterious investigation said he fielded 167 phone calls from nosey people searching for details on Tuesday evening (June 23), according to the Saint John Telegraph-Journal.
John Weaver is the owner of Hidden Valley Campground in Kingston. At the end of a tar and gravel road court sprinkled with the odd house along either side, the campground has become the focus of an investigation that began Monday at noon.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) say there are 12 officers at the site, including a forensic team from Fredericton.
“It’s get nerve-wracking to answer the phone and keep answering the same question,” Weaver said.
“I have people coming out of the woodwork, calling me up, seeing if I’m all right and they don’t even like me,” Weaver said, with a little laugh. “It’s getting frustrating.”
Weaver said there are 56 sites on 630 acres.
“I have a canteen with no customers. I have a campground with no customers.”
The campground, Weaver said, is staffed 24-7 so if someone committed a crime on his property, it would have been hard for it to go unnoticed.
“There’s not too many activities that can go on at this campground or soil turned over or anything like that, that I wouldn’t notice.”
Neither the police nor Weaver will say what the RCMP is searching for. Weaver did confirm that police haven’t used any of the earth-moving equipment on the site.
The search warrant the RCMP handed to Weaver was sealed, and even Sgt. Steve Gourdeau of the Hampton RCMP wasn’t privy to its contents.
‘We haven’t done any digging at all,” Gourdeau said.
Some TV and radio reports had said the RCMP had a person of interest and that Weaver was a suspect, but Gourdeau said those reports were wrong. “I did not speak those words,” Gourdeau said.
There are no suspects or persons of interest, he said. Just a tip that may prove to be nothing more than a hoax
The RCMP, he said, is not targeting a cold case such as a missing person or an unsolved murder. Police received tips from a number of sources that point to something criminal, Gourdeau said, but that was as far as he would go.
“We’re not being secretive. We’ve got to deal with facts. To say anything at this point would be speculation.”
“Nothing,” Gourdeau said, when asked if anything had been found. “Zero.”
Under a sweltering sun Wednesday afternoon and a swarm of bugs, an RCMP officer checked a lone car as it approached the gate. The man is one of only two long-term campers allowed beyond the gates.
Driving a shiny Mercedes with a for sale sign in the back window, the man held up a copy of the newspaper to the lone RCMP guard.
“You made the news,” said the man.
He then drove through the white, wooden gate and disappeared behind the trees.