Arctic Manhunt is a dramatic forensic documentary that attempts to identify the mystery man at the centre of one of the biggest manhunts in Canadian history. Equal parts criminological exam footage and creative re-enactments, this episode of Pure History Specials offer a stylized, moody investigation into one of Canada’s greatest unsolved mysteries.
On Christmas Day, 1931, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with the assistance of Aboriginal trackers, approached a rural cabin near the Arctic Circle. They were there to question an unknown trapper about vandalized trap lines but were met with open fire instead of answers. Over the next 49 days, one of the largest criminal searches in Canadian history ensued, taking the RCMP above the Arctic Circle where they had to endure harsh weather conditions on top of firefights with the mysterious fugitive they were pursuing. Ending with the trapper’s suicide, police found $2,400 in cash on his body but nothing to identify him or indicate why he was on the run.
Some speculate he was a Chicago gangster connected to Al Capone while others suspect he may have been a murderer responsible for a string of unsolved homicides across the Great White North. Others have posited that he was just a down-on-his-luck farmer from North Dakota. Despite photographs and fingerprints, police agencies across North America failed to identify the mystery man time and again. Almost 80 years later, forensic experts dig up the remains of the fugitive to try and determine his identity once and for all.
Through skeletal remains and facial reconstruction technology, forensic scientists piece together a narrative of the RCMP’s pursuit of the mystery man through the Canadian wilds, but their only hope of finding a positive identification rests in obtaining a reliable sample of DNA from the fugitive’s remains. Criminal profilers offer additional insight in an effort to fill in the details of who this fugitive was, and what he was running from.
Arctic Manhunt weaves through time, taking viewers to the past where they imagine the events of the manhunt, and into the forensic labs of today where scientists work to close the book on this decades-old cold case.