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BEYOND LOCAL: Here's what's known about the ongoing Timmins area manhunt

OPP, Ministry yet to confirm why Kettle Lakes Provincial Park — which is in the area being searched — is closed or when it could reopen
Kettle Lakes Provincial Park has been closed since Friday, June 7.

It's been just over two weeks since most area residents first heard the name Lucas MacDonald. 

Since the 43-year-old was named as someone police want to talk to in connection with a Matheson-area murder, there has been little communication from South Porcupine OPP on an intense manhunt in the city's east end. 

Over the past week, police have issued multiple advisories on social media warning people to expect increased presence in certain areas. A provincial park in the search area is closed to the public — though neither the police or the park have publicly confirmed if it's due to the investigation — and a police helicopter has been regularly spotted in the air.

As the public speculation about the search grows, police have released few details to residents in the affected area. Multiple interview requests to OPP by TimminsToday have not been fulfilled. 

What's known so far

On May 23, the body of 30-year-old Marcel Thoma — who, according to his obituary, was a Master Bombardier with the 2nd Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Garrison, Petawawa — was found in a wooded area in Egan Township, southwest of Matheson. The first information released from South Porcupine OPP said it was a suspicious death, with police later saying it was a "firearm-related" murder

Thoma was last heard from on May 17 and had been reported missing, though OPP never issued a media release. The missing person graphic was only posted to the Ontario Provincial Police - North East Region social media channels.

Since the suspicious death news release, MacDonald has been identified as someone who the police want to talk to.

OPP has not formally named him as a suspect. They have consistently said that he "may have information" about the murder and may have a gun.

The manhunt

The OPP Critical Incident Command (CIC) is directing the search for MacDonald. It has help from the OPP's tactics and rescue unit (TRU), emergency response team (ERT), canine unit, aviation, the snow machine, all-terrain vehicle and vessel enforcement (SAVE), and South Porcupine OPP officers. Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) staff have also been involved.

The investigation into the murder is also ongoing. 

That involves the South Porcupine OPP crime unit, under the direction of the criminal investigation branch, as well as the forensic identification services, the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service.

The investigation, according to social media posts from OPP, has been on Highway 101 from Retreat Road in the east end of Timmins to Shillington, as well as the Municipal Road area, which is north of Highway 101.

Police started sharing advisories about the increased police presence on social media a week ago. Friday was the first time a photo of MacDonald was attached to it, confirming the reason for the searches.

Residents have reported clusters of armed officers in those areas, and a low-flying helicopter has been circling most recently as today.

On Friday (June 7), Kettle Lakes Provincial Park on Municipal Road was closed to the public. 

Seasonal campers were told that it's for at least a week. There is no notice of the closure on the Kettle Lakes Provincial Park Facebook page or the voicemail at the park.

At the main entrance, there are closed signs. An alert now appears on the Ontario Parks website advising people that the park is temporarily closed for camping and day use until further notice.

TimminsToday has called Kettle Lakes Provincial Park and emailed the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to confirm why the park is closed and how long it's expected to last. The Ministry has responded to say it's looking into the inquiry. This story will be updated when a response is received.

Who they're looking for

MacDonald is 43 years old. He grew up in Timmins and the police news releases say he's now living in Egan Township.

He is described as 5' 8" and 150-160 pounds, with dark collar-length hair with some grey, and a thin short beard. He was last seen wearing a ballcap with a bandana underneath it and wrap-around sunglasses. 

OPP is trying to locate Lucas MacDonald, 43, of Egan Township. He is a person of interest in homicide investigation and has two warrants out for his arrest for unrelated matters. OPP photo

There are also two outstanding warrants out for his arrest for breach of recognizance in unrelated matters.

"Residents and visitors to the area are reminded to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to police," said OPP in a news release issued on Friday (June 7).

If you see MacDonald, police warn people to use "extreme caution", don't approach him and call 911.

Anyone with information is asked to call OPP at 1-888-310-1122. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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