Convicted killer missing from Mission Institution

Former Kelowna resident Robert Raymond Dezwaan was serving a life sentence for killing a teenager

Police are on the hunt for a convicted killer who went missing from Mission Institution on Friday, according to a Correctional Services of Canada release.

Robert Raymond Dezwaan was serving a life sentence for killing a 16-year old girl Merritt girl in 2001.

Prison officials discovered he was missing April 14 after a 3:45 p.m. count in the minimum security section of Mission Institution.

Dezwaan is 53-years-old and described as:

  • 6-foot-1
  • 186 lbs
  • fair complexion
  • green eyes
  • bald head

According to file information from a Merritt newspaper at the time, Dezwaan, then 38, had been living in Kelowna when he killed Cherish Oppenheim and abandoned her body in the woods off the Coldwater Road in Merritt.

They reported that the teenager was strangled, likely from behind, with a rope or cord. She also suffered multiple injuries including a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage which was probably caused by being hit with a large rock found near the body.

In February 2003 Dezwaan pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years. Dezwaan had originally been charged with first degree murder in Oppenheim’s death. He was scheduled to face trial at the end of March 2003.

Dezwaan’s previous record included charges of possession of narcotics, possession of stolen property, break and enter and forcible confinement which dated back as far as the 1980s.

Anyone with information about Dezwaan’s whereabouts is asked to contact their local police.