Image: Harpreet circa, 1990
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: May 30, 1990
Missing From: Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: April 22, 1990
Age: 1 month old
Height and Weight: 2’0″ and 10 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Asian female, Black hair, Brown eyes, Harpreet is of East Indian descent
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A pink dress with lace trim, white socks, and a white disposable diaper
Details of Disappearance
Harpreet was last seen in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada on May 30th 1990. She was last seen sleeping inside of her family’s 1979 white-over-yellow Chrysler Córdoba at 8:30 pm which was parked in the parking lot near the Zellers store at Coquitlam Shopping Centre. Her parents, Awtar and Daljit Paul, said they left her asleep in the car for approximately 15-30 minutes while they shopped inside with two other children, including their three year old daughter, Sonia.
When they returned to the car, they discovered that both Harpreet and her gray baby car seat were missing from the vehicle. They immediately reported her missing and an extensive search began for the infant. Police searched washrooms, dumpsters, and a bush area adjacent to where the car was parked when the child disappeared. A BOLF (Be on the lookout) alert with Harpreet’s description and her car seat description was sent to neighboring police detachments, border crossings, and airport authorities.
Roadblocks were also set up and the media covered the story extensively when it first happened. Despite all of their efforts, authorities were unable to locate the child or any evidence as to what happened to her. Police classified the case as a probable abduction and theorized someone took the child from her family’s car while they were shopping. It was theorized the suspect could’ve been a woman longing for a child but that she couldn’t have one of her own.
Police did a reenactment of the disappearance at the mall in the days following the girl’s apparent abduction and while it generated a response from the public, no solid leads were developed as a result of it. Several unidentified sets of fingerprints were found on the interior and exterior of the family vehicle. These prints were all lifted and sent for testing. While most of them were identified, police had trouble identifying a set of fingerprints found near the gas tank.
Following the abduction, there were various rumors that Harpreet’s family had involvement of some type in her disappearance. Her parents dismissed these rumors and maintained they knew nothing about what happened to their daughter.
Police would like to identify an unidentified male in regards to Harpreet’s case. Around the time the child vanished, a man with a baby was seen boarding a bus at the mall. The individual was described as being a Caucasian male with black hair and a mustache. The man was described as being burly and was approximately 40 years old in 1990. He’s been described as resembling actor, Tom Selleck. The man was not carrying a diaper bag and the baby was not wrapped in a blanket.
Police have stated they are not calling this man a prime suspect in the case because the baby he was carrying was wearing different clothing than the ones that Harpreet was last known to be wearing. However, police acknowledged it doesn’t take long to change a baby’s clothing and would still like to identify and question this individual. It is believed he got off the bus in New Westminster.
Police also investigated a report from a witness who said an unidentified woman attempted to abduct her baby at the Coquitlam Shopping Centre in 1986. The mother managed to spot the woman and chase down the abductor before the woman dropped the baby and fled. Police do not know if the woman in the attempted abduction was involved in Harpreet’s abduction four years later but it’s unclear.
Harpreet’s parents were deeply devastated by her disappearance. They married four years before their daughter disappeared and the family had immigrated to Canada the previous June. Her father had a 22 year old daughter from a previous marriage at the time. They appeared on television several times to plead for the safe return of their daughter and her father once offered a $500 reward to anyone who could provide information leading to his daughter’s return.
Harpreet’s disappearance remains unsolved and there’s been no sign of her since 1990.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Coquitlam Detachment 604-945-1550