Hands coated in muck, Mike Mildon kept on digging into a six-foot hole, seven hours into a search for his long-missing relative Harold Heaven.
“Just a little more,” he said as he reached in for another handful of mud.
The lead in Mildon’s search for answers on the Minden man who disappeared 86-years-ago ended in disappointment Aug. 12. He and fellow documentary filmmaker Jackson Rowe – surrounded by their crew and dozens of Heaven family members – did not uncover the body they expected to find in a spot on family property.
The duo have been working on a documentary titled “For Heaven’s Sake,” about their search for Heaven. Mildon said they used ground-penetrating radar in February on a spot long-rumoured to be Heaven’s resting place in family stories. The results found it looked similar to a cemetery site and could contain a body.
After delays due to winter and the pandemic, they went to work digging. But all they uncovered was dirt and rocks.
“We had a lot of confidence going into that. It hurts, it really sucks,” Mildon said. “The whole family was around – we wanted to give them something.”
Heaven went missing in 1934, his case going unsolved by police, though their reports indicated they suspected suicide. Mildon and Rowe have said they think there is more to it, including the possibility of manslaughter, and they are not discounting any theory.
“There’s always rumours people talk about,” Rowe said. “It’s just difficult for us to sift through and take them all seriously as we’d like to. We’re going to regroup.”
But the Heaven family who came remained in high spirits even after the disappointing end as they cheered the documentarians on.
“Now, we can tell our kids and grandkids the story,” family member Emma Cornfield said. “Of how we dug the holes. We now have new campfire stories.”
“My whole goal was to give them an answer today,” Mildon said. “It sucks on that front, but there was so much love and support around, that I think everyone saw it. Very thankful.”
Rowe said Minden has been an excellent community to work with throughout their months-long search.
“Almost everyone we came into contact with was supportive and was happy to talk,” Rowe said. “Really paints Minden in a lovely light.”
The filmmakers said they did not have any specific strong leads after this, but they’ll keep going.
“It’s not done yet,” Mildon said. “We learned about perseverance and what it takes to solve something like this. It’s not as easy as some people make it seem.”