Police in Lethbridge have located two missing sisters in the United States and closed a cold case that has spanned over 30 years.

Anna Hakze and Kym Hakze were last seen by family members in the mid-1980s in Edmonton.

Police say Anna was estranged from her family at the time but the two sisters were very close.

They were reported missing by their mother in 2003 after she hadn’t seen or heard from them in over ten years.

Police investigated a number of tips and leads over the years and even submitted DNA from the family during the Robert Pickton trial to rule the sisters out as victims.

“We had some original information that they might be in the Vancouver area so with all the Pickton murders we had submitted some DNA and stuff like, other evidence like that, out that way to determine potentially, if maybe they suffered the same fate out there. That obviously came back negative and wasn’t determined to be part of the Pickton murder investigation,” said LPS Staff Sergeant Scott Woods.

The women’s fingerprints were also provided to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System operated by U.S. authorities in an attempt to locate them.

Police in Lethbridge put out a plea for information in 2015 to generate new leads but failed to turn up anything new in the case.

In January, Lethbridge police reviewed the file again and noticed that a theft report was filed with police in Vancouver in 1999 by a woman with the same last name as an alias that was known to be used by Anna.

Investigators requested the file and when they contacted the woman they found out she was not Anna Hakze but she was able to provide police with information that corroborated a tip they received in the case in 2012.

The woman in Vancouver had also saved a 1984 newspaper article that advertised a book written by another woman with the same name and said she held onto it because she had never met anyone else with the same unusual name.

In 2012, police investigated the tip thinking it might be the missing sisters, as it identified two women, one an author and the other with a name that was known to be used as an alias by Kym.

Police attempted to contact the author and her publisher but neither responded to their inquiries and they were unable to locate the other woman.

Investigators continued to dig for information and came across the author’s name during online searches that included a photo and information on where she was currently living.

“We certainly didn’t have a lot of the technology, the abilities to search for people thirty years ago, twenty years ago, that we do now, which certainly has assisted us on this one specifically,” said Woods.

Record searches using the name turned up nothing but police did find records in the name of the author from the old newspaper clipping and obtained a number of documents related to it including one that listed a sister as next of kin.

A fingerprint comparison was done and confirmed that the two women were the missing sisters and in February police in the U.S. confirmed Kym’s true identity.

Ken Hakze, 57, Anna and Kym’s brother, lives in Edmonton and spoke to CTV’s Terry Vogt by phone.

He says his parents came from Holland and that his father worked in the mines near Coalman before they all moved to Lethbridge for another job opportunity.

“We primarily were raised in Lethbridge for the next 18, 20 years there,” he said. “It was in Lethbridge that my dad died in, I believe, the early 80s and the family was still intact at that time.”

He says the family fell apart when his dad passed away and that his sisters disappeared soon after.

“So we never really got a pinpoint of exactly where they were even though we went through a number of agencies, anywhere from police to social services, we hired a private investigator to locate them, could never do it so we were assuming for a while there that they were deceased because we just hadn’t heard anything for a lot of years. We always were hoping they were alive though.”

He says he was between the ages of 19 and 21 when they disappeared and that he found out that his sisters had been found last week.

“There’s always been a longing to connect with them, ever since we realized there was a disappearance there. So it’s been with me since day one and my heart’s desire is to see them now and to talk to them and to see them,” he said. “It was like a door opened up. Always had a longing to see them, it was all of a sudden like a second chance, a door to open up, and I have a deep desire to connect with them now regardless of the absence for so many years.”

Police say social media played a big part in tracking the sisters down.

“Recently it was huge because like I said the open-source checks that we did, specifically this book and author, is ultimately what led us down the path to get the resolution on this that we ended up with,” said Woods.

Police in Lethbridge called Kym and she told them that they were unaware they had been reported missing, after walking away from their lives in Canada.

Investigators have not spoken with Anna but say Kym, who now goes by another name, has had contact with her and police in the U.S. have confirmed Anna’s residency.

“It’s tough to explain for us because we deal so much in the reality of tragedy and having to give families, you know, a lot of difficult news so to actually be able to go to a family and give them the closure on a positive note, because so many times it ends up not being what they want to hear or we’re stuck in a spot where we have been for the last number of years where we just can’t give them the answers so it’s one of those ones where we’re certainly going to enjoy it as I’m sure the families were relieved to have it off the books as well,” said Woods.

The sisters are now 67 and 53 years old and their brother says that they have been given his contact information and he is hopeful that they will reach out to him.