Leeds School of Social Sciences

Cold Case Unit: 32 years since the disappearance of Charles Horvath-Allan

The 26th May 2021 marks 32 years since Charles Horvath-Allan was officially last seen alive in Kelowna, Canada.

Charles Horvath-Allan

On Friday, I got to spend time with Charles’ mum, Denise, to talk about Charles and obtain further information from her about his disappearance, and suspected murder. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance are anything but straightforward; a complex web of people and places have emerged over these 32-years, all suggesting Charles’ was killed. Denise is now fighting, not to apprehend the people responsible, but to bring Charles back home to lay at rest with his beloved nana in the UK. 

Denise has spearheaded the search for Charles over the years, going back to the 26th May 1989. On this day at around noon, Charles finished a four-hour shift at a local amusement park, cashed a cheque at the Royal Bank, Orchard Park, for around $20, and went on his way. The police accept that Charles disappeared, or likely died, on this day, but Denise has found information to the contrary. In the small tourist town of Kelowna, British Columbia (BC), Charles was known by many; friends and acquaintances of his have come forward over the years to recount seeing Charles months after this last official sighting. This information suggests Charles was still alive around August 1989. Irrespective of the date he was last seen, he has not been seen or found since 1989. Where is Charles?

Described as naïve and carefree, Charles was spending time in Canada to learn about his place of birth and obtaining new experiences, before returning to the UK later. The trip to Canada was an early 21st birthday present from Denise, but she does not yet know if he even made it to this significant event. Plenty of information about Charles’ disappearance is available online, and the purpose of this blog is not to provide a summary of the case. Instead, it is to appeal to those who have information, irrespective of how small, about Charles and his disappearance in 1989 from Kelowna, BC.

After spending time with a woman who has relentlessly searched for her son, you barely touch the surface in the battles she faces daily. People have thankfully come forward over the years to share information about Charles, whether that’s telling Denise about how they became friends, or to inform her of how he died. Denise has had to endure the details in the ways Charles might have died, and whilst this is traumatic alone, the battle with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has made this even harder. As Charles’ case is a cold case, the police require new information and definitive leads in order to allocate further man hours to the case. So far, Denise has provided the finances to search for locations where Charles’ remains may be and has conducted her own research into people who may have been involved. As it has now been 32 year since Charles was last seen, time is not on Denise’s side. Recently, several people who knew about Charles’ fate have passed away without providing testimony to the police. 

All Denise now wants is to find Charles and bring him home. If people have information, come forward and share your knowledge with Denise and the police, or anonymously through Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers BC Canada, so that Charles can be recovered after 32 long years.

Find out more about the work of our Cold Case Unit

Charles Horvath-Allan looks up at mother, Denise

Kirsty Bennett

Lecturer / Leeds School Of Social Sciences

Kirsty Bennett is a lecturer in Criminology, with a specialism in policing. Kirsty's area of expertise is cold case homicide reviews, missing persons, no-body murders, and major crime reviews.

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