'Somebody's going to get closure': Missing woman's dad waits for news from B.C. search
From the other side of the country, John Simpson is watching the search of a rural north Okanagan property with trepidation.
Simpson's daughter, Ashley, disappeared in April 2016 after telling her family she was hitchhiking home to Ontario from Salmon Arm. She is one of at least five women who've gone missing in the region since early 2016.
On Saturday, police discovered human remains on a property in the Silver Creek area between Salmon Arm and Vernon, but they have yet to be identified.
"We're sitting on the edge pretty bad here," Simpson told CBC News on Monday. "We're hanging in here. We're waiting to hear. All we know now is somebody's going to get closure on something. They found remains — it's gotta be somebody."
Ashley, then 27, had been planning to return to Niagara-on-the-Lake to work in the family's lodge and attend her sister's baby shower, according to her father. She'd recently been laid off and didn't have a vehicle or money to pay for the trip home.
Simpson said he's spent his life savings travelling to B.C. to search for his missing daughter, and police have told him that they strongly suspect foul play in her disappearance.
"We would like to find closure and move on with our life and bring our daughter home so she's here with family and friends," he said. "We still have a string of hope that she may be alive, because we have no information otherwise, whether she's here or whether she's gone."
Mounties have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road since last Thursday, and a second search is underway 15 kilometres to the northeast, near Springbend Road and Highway 97B.
Investigators have not said whether they've found the remains of one person or multiple people, but they say the discovery is suspicious.
According to Jody Leon of the Splatsin First Nation, as many as six women have recently gone missing in the area.
"People are feeling really uneasy. People are feeling a level of shock, of disbelief," Leon said.
She's helped in the searches for Ashley Simpson and 27-year-old Caitlin Potts, who was last seen in February 2016. The missing also include Nicole Bell, Deanna Wertz and Traci Genereaux.
Leon put together a rally over the weekend to denounce violence against women and show support for the families of the missing women.
"People needed a place to come, even though we don't know conclusively what happened. It was a place for people to come, for people to express their concerns," she said.
The property where the remains were found is on the same road that was the subject of a recent police warning, after a man allegedly threatened a woman with a gun in August.
A man by the name of Curtis Wayne Sagmoen was charged with firearms offences and other charges in connection with that investigation. He remains in custody.
Mounties will not say whether Sagmoen is a suspect in the investigation into the found remains.
With files from Greg Rasmussen and Briar Stewart