‘This is a needle in a haystack’: Family of missing Nottawa woman longs for closure

It’s been 10 years since Lindsay Stubbs last saw her sister. A decade of wondering when and if the two would ever share another moment together.

Kelly Coleman was last seen on Aug. 3, 2011. She was 34 at the time and left behind her then 12-year-old son, her boyfriend and a family desperately searching for answers.

For Stubbs, the tragedy of not knowing what happened to Coleman shows in those tender moments when she recalls childhood memories of spending time at a park, shopping, enjoying an afternoon of fishing, or helping her sister move into a new house with her boyfriend.

Kelly Coleman

“She loved photos,” Stubbs said. “She would always get me to help her and do scrapbooking or putting together a new photo album, just so she had memories all the time. She made sure to be there for me.”

Stubbs last saw Coleman in Barrie on July 30, 2011, at a birthday celebration. However, the family didn’t report her missing until January 2012, when Coleman hadn’t responded to their calls and messages.

“Sometimes with a lot of people, she would go months without talking to them,” said Stubbs. “I’d speak to her every day for three months straight. And then sometimes a month would go by, but we would never think anything of it.”

Kelly Coleman

Coleman’s boyfriend at the time, Steve George, told the OPP he dropped her off at a Mac’s Convenience store in Barrie on Aug. 3, 2011. According to Stubbs, George told her two different stories, first saying he dropped Coleman off at the south-end Walmart and then saying he came home from work to see Coleman’s stuff all packed and gone, along with her.

“This is a needle in a haystack,” said Tony Markic, the OPP’s lead detective on the case. “Cases tend to stick with detectives for a long time. Everybody has that one, and this is the one for me.”

Markic said the OPP believes Coleman never left her residence in Nottawa and instead met with foul play on or before Aug. 3, 2011.

He named George as a suspect, citing a lack of co-operation from him in the investigation.

But George said he was co-operative and that he didn’t kill Coleman.

Kelly Coleman

“I dropped her off in Barrie like she asked to be. That was the last I’d seen or heard from her. Maybe she just moved on. She always said she was going to,” said George.

George said he and Coleman were in a relationship for six years. As time went by, however, he said he felt the relationship deteriorated.

According to Markic, the OPP executed a search warrant in 2015 at Coleman’s Nottawa residence, hoping to find evidence of human remains or anything that would point to foul play. Police believed Coleman’s disappearance was linked to her possible death.

Kelly Coleman

The search turned up evidence of Coleman’s unpacked belongings, which Stubbs said George refused to give her. It also raised doubts about George’s version of events, in which he said he dropped Coleman off in Barrie with all her belongings.

“I know where I dropped her off,” said George. “I dropped her off at Mac’s… at the same road as the Walmart in Barrie. That’s where the confusion came.”

Kelly Coleman

As for Stubbs, she believes Coleman’s history of drinking and other mental health issues might make people value her disappearance less. She said she’s concerned about painting her step-sister in a bad light that would take away the urgency to find her.

For now, Stubbs and her family have come to terms with Coleman’s disappearance, but she wants to know what happened to her, in hopes of bringing her family closure.

“I love my sister. I want to find her.”

Kelly Coleman

Correction – Aug. 31, 2021 – This article has been edited from a previous version that misstated the date that Lindsay Stubbs last saw Kelly Coleman. It was also edited to clarify that Stubbs and Coleman are sisters (half-sisters), not step-sisters.

Leave a Comment