Denise Allan, mother of Charles Horvath

Denise Allan, mother of Charles Horvath, is shown at a September 2018 news conference at Kelowna RCMP headquarters with a photo of her son projected on the screen behind her. 

The family of man who went missing more than three decades ago while visiting Kelowna has been granted a measure of closure.

A judge in London has granted a death certificate for Charles Horvath.

Horvath’s mother Denise Allan made the application, which was granted on Aug. 14 by the Royal Courts of Justice Chancery Division London, England.

The claim required a notice to run in this newspaper months ago, asking if anyone wants to intervene in the case by coming forward with information that he was still alive.

At age 20, Horvath left his home in England to backpack across Canada. He arrived in Kelowna in May 1989. He stayed at Tiny Town Campground beside Gyro Beach (which is now a parking lot), and got a job at the Flintstone theme park.

Allan was last in contact with her son on May 11, 1989, via fax. The last time he was seen or heard of was May 26, 1989, when he cashed his Flintstone’s paycheque at the Royal Bank branch near Orchard Park mall.

When Allan didn’t hear from her son to finalize arrangements to meet her in Hong Kong, she reported him missing. Horvath officially became a missing person on Aug. 10, 1989.

For decades Allan held out hope Horvath was alive. However, in September 2018, she came to Kelowna with resignation and final appeals.

“I know that someone murdered Charles,” she said during a news conference at Kelowna RCMP headquarters. “His remains are out there somewhere. I know there are people out there in Kelowna who know what happened to Charles and are afraid to come forward. I’m appealing to them personally.”

Allan also made it clear she was no longer after vengeance or justice. She simply wanted the closure of finding Horvath’s remains and burying them beside his grandmother in a cemetery in Cambridge, England.

“I just seek answers,” she said. “I’ll never understand what my son did to deserve such a violent end, but I want you to know I forgive you.”

She said one of the strongest leads in the case was also one of the first.

“On May 19, 1989, when Charles was at Tiny Town, 75 bikers from the U.S., on their way to party at the Falkland Stampede, stopped at the campground,” she said.

“There was someone who said something about a polite Englishman being killed by a biker trying to earn a gang patch. I know something terrible happened to him. He was a six-foot-tall, handsome young man who thought he was worldly. But, sadly, he was a dreamer. He was naive. He’d believe anything anyone told him.”

Nothing has come of that early tip.

Police are still looking for answers. Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 or

— with files from Steve MacNaull